It’s arguable whether rapper Drake truly “started from the bottom,” given that he lived in an affluent neighbourhood and starred on a hit TV show, but given Drake’s net worth of $88.5 million, there’s no doubting that he’s here. And at only 29 years old, expect an increase in hit songs and profits for years to come.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Aubrey Drake Graham lived a relatively normal life, though he says he saw a lot of unfortunate “character building” things in his young life, including his parents’ divorcing and his father being arrested. He quietly entered the world of celebrity when he played the character Jimmy Brooks for 138 episodes on Degrassi: The Next Generation, a series in the long-running Degrassi franchise, which has a cult following to this day. Coincidentally—or perhaps not—the character sought a career in music.
Drake’s big music break came after releasing his own mixtapes in 2006, 2007, and 2009; the second, Comeback Season, led to a single, music video and him subsequently becoming the first unsigned Canadian rapper featured on BET. Fellow rapper Lil Wayne, upon hearing Drake’s sound, immediately invited Drake to record songs and tour with him. However, despite all this, Drake remained unsigned until mid-2009, a year in which he finally had a notable net worth of $1.2 million, which included $650,000 from his third mixtape, So Far Gone. Not bad for someone who profited off his music without a label for three-and-a-half years!
The rapper’s first official studio album, Thank Me Later, was released in mid-2010 to positive reviews, with critics especially praising the honesty of many songs’ lyrics, as Drake spoke truthfully about his past instead of trying to “harden” his past with fake stories of drugs and violence to appeal to his audience. While possibly a gamble, it apparently paid off, as the album sold an estimated 1.5 million copies for earnings of $2.3 million. Drake ended 2010 as one of the highest-earning new members of Forbes’ list of “Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings,” coming in at $9 million.
2011 marked Drake’s second album, Take Care, which built on Thank Me Later‘s success with 2.2 million copies sold and $3.5 million added to Drake’s net worth. But the real money came from his second world tour, the Club Paradise Tour, which raked in a whopping $42 million. Additional revenue was obtained from not only a new record deal, but advertisement contracts with the likes of Coca-Cola, Kodak, and even Virgin America, who put his face on the sides of airplanes. Ultimately, Drake’s net worth at the end of 2011 was $14 million.
Following a gross of $20.5 million in 2012, Drake’s third and most recent studio album, Nothing Was the Same, saw lesser sales than Take Care with 1.5 million copies sold and earnings of $2.5 million, leaving 2013 with a profit of $10.5 million. However, this could be due to a variety of factors (piracy, etc.) and is in no way an indication of declining popularity.
The years 2014 and 2015 didn’t produce studio albums, but instead saw Drake returning to his roots as each year saw a new mixtape, with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late in 2014 and What a Time to Be Alive in 2015. He also toured heavily in these two years, including a collaborative tour with Lil Wayne in 2014. Earnings for 2014 and 2015 were $33 million and $39.5 million, respectively.
While perfectly capable of acting, given his time on Degrassi, most of Drake’s film and TV appearances now see him playing himself. It can be assumed that he’s too dedicated to his music at the moment to take on any bigger acting roles, though the option certainly exists, especially after Lady Gaga’s success on American Horror Story.
Aside from the aforementioned endorsement deals, Drake really only has one major source of income outside of his music: the Toronto Raptors. Named the NBA team’s “global ambassador,” Drake will be responsible for promoting and hosting a variety of events, as Toronto will be the location for this year’s All-Star Game. Drake was quoted as saying, “I do take it very seriously as a new job and a new chapter in my life.” He also hosted “Drake Nights” during the 2013-2014 game season. This was the first season since 2008 in which the Raptors made the playoffs—coincidence?
As of this writing, Drake has yet to announce a new album, but it’s only a matter of time. Until then, look for Drake’s net worth to rise as he continues building his brand until he’s an even longer way from the bottom.