drake toronto

New York Times dares to run headline asserting that Drake put Toronto on the map

Toronto as we know it did not exist prior to the birth of a teen soap opera actor named Aubrey Graham and his subsequent transformation into one of the world's most successful recording artists.

But it did exist, and has in fact been appearing on maps as the City of Toronto since 1834, more than 150 years before Drake was born.

Fans from abroad have been arguing for years that Drizzy "put Toronto on the map," and in some ways, this might be true: Never before has Toronto been able to claim a bigger star — one instrumental in not only boosting our city's cool factor, but helping us collectively (via sports) to prosper and reach new heights.

In another more literal sense, Drake likely did put Toronto on a map at some point between grades one and 12. So did I. So did you.

The map was part of a geography test.

drake toronto map

Now I love Drake just as much as the next millennial emo kid, if not more — his music, his sense of humour, his style, his everyday actions that blow up into news stories and fuel my entire industry — but it's hard to accept that any one person could make Toronto an internationally-recognized city.

It's even harder to see the New York Times running a headline to that effect.

"Drake Put Toronto on the Map. A University Put Him in the Syllabus," reads a headline recently published by the widely-respected newspaper and archived by Google before it was changed to read simply: "When Drake Is on Your Course Syllabus."

The article itself is great. Penned by Vjosa Isai and published on Jan. 22, the piece explores the artist's impact on Toronto's international reputation and highlights a novel course at Ryerson (or X) University called "Deconstructing Drake and the Weeknd," taught by lecturer Dalton Higgins.

"It is perhaps fitting that Drake joins the ranks of other musical stars whose cultural meaning has been parsed at universities; Madonna, the material girl, has been part of courses at Harvard and U.C.L.A., among other places," writes Isai.

"Councilor Michael Thompson, Toronto's nightlife economy representative, told me that name-dropping Drake when trying to generate investment for the city was a surefire way to inspire applause, interest and buzz."

None of this is untrue, but framing a city of more than 2.9 million people around one singular, 36-year-old man and his work is being taken by some as disrespectful to everything else Toronto is known for.

From The Gardiner Expressway to Ripley's Aquarium to the gat dang CN Tower, everything in the NYT article is presented in the context of the one-time Degrassi star.

"The students studying Drake need only drive into downtown Toronto for a crash course on the artist," it reads. "Traveling along the Gardiner Expressway — the elevated highway under which Drake filmed portions of the 'What's Next' music video, which was released in March — is a building emblazoned with his clothing brand's golden owl logo."

"Students who swerve around the notorious Toronto potholes that Drake raps about will arrive at Dundas Square, Toronto's equivalent of Times Square," it continues, noting the "aggressive glow from billboards that frequently promote Drake" at the iconic intersection.

This is far from the first piece of content to treat Toronto as Drake's backyard — something its author notes when referencing an infamous 2020 SNL sketch in which Issa Rae stands on "Drake Watch" for the fictional Canadian news program )"Bonjour-Hi!"

It is also far from the first thing to get people up in arms over the assertion that Drake "put Toronto on the map."

Evidence of this is plentiful on Twitter.

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada, the fourth-largest in North America, the capital of Ontario and homeland of myriad athletes, actors, comedians and musicians.

This has proven a point of contention (even facetiously) among fans of other artists.

Some Canadians simply take up contention with the oft-repeated phrase.

"Toronto's Hip Hop scene was plenty alive before Drake arrived. One could argue KOTD put Toronto on the map significantly for hip-hop heads," wrote one Twitter user a few months back.

"I'm still dying over someone saying Drake put Toronto on the map," wrote another. "Did we not exist prior to 2006?"

Others, however, agree fully that Drake is solely responsible for turning Toronto into a city that people are aware of.

"Drake put Canada on the f*cking map, specifically Toronto and has is worldwide. Everywhere you go, they know Drake," reads one tweet.

"Before Drake, no one was tryna hear rappers coming out of Toronto," says another.

Whether or not you agree that Drake made Toronto a world-class city, it's equally important to note that Toronto didn't produce Drake on its own. Not even close.

"Though Toronto has piggybacked on the glittering Drake brand, the city can’t take credit for his stardom as a homegrown talent," reads the NYT piece, citing Higgins, who told the reporter, "Toronto did not make Drake, like, at all."

"Mr. Higgins told me, adding that the same holds true for the Weeknd and some of the city's other successful hip-hop artists. They, he observed, started their careers in the United States, signing contracts with American record labels and with the support of the American music industry and its fans," concludes the piece.

"Only then did their popularity and stardom eventually trickle back to Toronto."

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