NEW YORK —
But after a late-night recording session with West, things quickly changed.
"At first for this video, I was taking myself way too serious and trying to do some, like, epic sort-of-intimate video ... that would have been cool, but the song is too fun for that," Drake told us on the Brooklyn video set. "So when we were in the studio one night — me, Kanye and Big Sean — we were actually recording a song. And 'Ye ... it oozes out of him, creativity ... he was just being creative Kanye, like, spewing out ideas, and the day after, I texted my manager — we have the same manager — and was like, 'Yo, Kanye's idea was actually the best out of all of them, see if he'll do the video.'
"I don't know if at that point he knew he was gonna be directing the video," he continued. "It was more an idea like, 'It'll be funny if we do this.' Then it turned into 'Let's do this.' "
The Kanye-directed clip is a decidedly lighter take on things.
The video was filmed Sunday at a high school basketball gym where Drake's collection of "bests" manifests as the roster of a basketball team.
"Some of us younger men, we refer to our affiliation with women like a roster," Drake said, explaining the concept. "You have key women in your life when you're single and doing your thing."
But Team Drake faces some stiff competition in the clip — the opposing females aren't so smitten with the rising rap star. Despite the humor in the theme, Drake said the film will be shot to make it have a "Basketball Diaries"-like feel. There's no "Degrassi" hook to the clip, even though a young Drake played a high school basketball player in the teen series.
Cameos for the video will include Trey Songz, Fabolous and Drake's Young Money family: Nicki Minaj, Jae Millz, Lil Twist and Lil Chuckee. Kanye was on set, of course, as was his love interest, Amber Rose, and Common. Rihanna, recently rumored to be dating Drake, was present in New York the night before, but the "Umbrella" singer wasn't on the closed set.
The "Best I Ever Had" clip marks Drake's first "official video," according to the Toronto lyricist. A previous video, "Replacement Girl," was financed by the rapper and featured Trey Songz. The visual briefly aired on BET in the past and has been revived by MTV Jams recently. But Drake said that video was made while he was discovering himself as an artist and that the "Best" clip truly showcases who he is now.
While the buzz for "Best I Ever Had" continues to grow — the song is an airplay gainer on the Billboard Hot 100 — Drake is still ironing out the details on where he'll sign as a recording artist.
He said that for now, being unsigned gives him some much-needed freedom.
"I'm almost there," he laughed. "I'm just taking my time. It's less political and better to do things like today — having a video directed by a man of Kanye's stature and still be unsigned — it just sounds better!"