February 8, 2010

Hip-Hop Artist Drake Will Take the Stage for Slope Day 2010

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Canadian rapper Drake will headline this year’s Slope Day, according to Dan Tracy ’10, chair of the Slope Day Programming Board.

The artist announced the dates of his first solo tour yesterday, including a stop in Ithaca for the annual end-of-year concert on May 7. Drake, who began his career as an actor on the Canadian TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation, has recently risen to stardom on the strength of such hits as “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl,” performed with Young Money Entertainment.

The SDPB will make an official announcement of the decision at Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting.

Drake is the latest in a long list of hip-hop artists to perform at Slope Day. Kanye West headlined in 2004, The Game and Snoop Dogg shared duties in 2005 and T.I. performed in 2007. Last year, The Pussycat Dolls were backed by indie rock band The Apples in Stereo and rapper Asher Roth.

According to Tracy, “Slope Day tries to target up-and-coming artists.” In surveys and board meetings, “Drake was one of our most requested artists.”

Fellow Canadian hip-hop artist k-os and electronic rockers Francis and the Lights will open for Drake. A decision regarding a fourth act will be made in the following weeks.

A native of Toronto, 23-year-old Drake — born Aubrey Drake Graham — originally intended to pursue a career in acting, only making the decision to turn to music four years ago. Quickly attracting the attention of rapper Lil Wayne, he produced a series of mixtapes that garnered significant attention within the hip-hop world and led to a series of collaborations with well-known performers such as Mary J. Blige and Trey Songz.

Since last summer — when both “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl” made the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 — Drake has risen to international stardom, and in June he signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment. On Nov. 11, he was honored with Grammy nominations for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song, both for “Best I Ever Had.” He performed at the awards ceremony alongside Lil Wayne and Eminem on Jan. 31.

Typically an energetic performer, Drake has tapered down the physical demands of his show since severely injuring his ACL onstage in July.

Several logistical factors must be considered in choosing a headline act, according to Tracy. “Taking suggestions from the general [student] body, we see what’s available — artists within our price range that are in the country [and] driving through the East Coast at the time,” he said.

Veronica Fischmann ’10, selections director for the SDPB, echoed Tracy’s comments regarding financial constraints. Although many Cornell students may have liked to see Lady Gaga, Fischmann explained quite simply: “We can’t afford her.”

The Away From Home Tour, Drake’s first national tour as a solo artist, is being produced in conjunction with the Fifth Annual Campus Consciousness Tour. Its goal is to promote eco-friendly practices on college campuses through workshops and film screenings. According to Tracey, more information will be available in the coming weeks regarding Campus Consciousness’s Slope Day activities at Cornell.

Correction appended Feb. 9, 2010: The original article referenced Aubrey Drake Graham’s real name as Audrey Drake Graham. The mistake has been corrected in the article, and the Sun regrets this error.

Original Author: Ted Hamilton