Akon says he didn’t have enough money in the mid-2000s to sign Drake to his label.
In a recent interview with VladTV, the 47-year-old singer and producer recalled how it was his another Canadian rapper on his roster who hyped Drake.
“Kardinal Offishall brought him to me back in 2005, I think it was. Or was it ’04? It was right before ‘Best I Ever Had’ blew up because it was like more mixtape-is, you know,” Akon said. “And at the time, believe it or not, Drake sounded more like Eminem. With that demo that I heard, he was sounding more like Em.”
Drake went on to release “Best I Ever Had” on his 2009 debut EPSo Far Gone. “It was completely different,” Akon said of the version that earned two Grammy nominations.
Akon said he wasn’t able to fight in the “huge” bidding war for Drake. “Kardi was like, ‘Ni**a, I told you this ni**a was gonna be the s**t.’ I said, ‘Well s**t, reach out!’ He said, ‘You can but the lowest bid right now is a million.’
“I said, ‘S**t, I ain’t got a million dollars.’”
Drake eventually signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment.
“Drake, to me, is worth every single f**king penny,” said Akon. “That motherf**ker is genius. He’s revolutionary.”
The singer added that Drake has been able to stay successful because he pivots. “He’s not sticking to that one pocket,” said Akon. “That’s the only way to do it. Had he stayed completely urban, forget it.”