It’s fair to say that rappers are not typically known for their ability to play musical instruments. In fact, there’s controversy around whether rappers can accurately be categorised as musicians at all. But what about Canadian rapper Drake, does he conform to this stereotype?
Drake has never explicitly confirmed whether he can play any instruments. However, there is a handful of evidence suggesting that he can play the piano. At present, his level of proficiency is unclear. What is clear, nevertheless, is that Drake is certainly not the type to boast about his skills.
From his familial background and interior design choices to his early Instagram posts, this article will analyse a handful of materials that indicate whether Drake can play the piano or not.
In line with his iconic approach of ‘singing as rapping and rapping as singing’, Drake has never been the type to play it safe. The same applies to his interior décor choices.
In a recent interview, Drake welcomed Architectural Digest into his 50,000 square foot, Toronto based home. It’s here that we discover that Drake owns a bespoke Bösendorfer grand piano. The piano is one of three made and was designed exclusively for the rapper by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and designer Ferris Rafauli.
Speaking of the collaboration, Rafauli said:
“Drakes world completely revolves around music, so he wasn’t going to buy just any piano. This prized possession is an authentic marriage of artistry, craft, and quality.”
The piano is also featured in Drake’s latest music video for ‘Tootsie Slide’, which amassed 12 million views in just 3 days.
A standard Bösendorfer 280VS grand piano costs in the region of $174,000 and we can assume that a bespoke design costs a whole lot more. In any case, this was definitely an expensive purchase.
But why would Drake spend so much money on a bespoke piano that he cannot play? Is it simply a decorative piece for his great room?
Instagram Never Lies – or Does It?
Since Drake first joined Instagram in December 2011, there have been several occasions where he has posted piano-related content.
Most recently, in September 2019, Drake reposted a throwback photo that he originally published on the platform in June 2012. In the picture, Drake is seen playing a Yamaha keyboard. Drake’s Mum can be seen off-guard in the background, which suggests this is a candid, rather than staged, photo of Drake genuinely having a jam.
Prior to this in April 2017, Drake posted a snap of a black piano holding ‘Lionel Richie Anthology’, which is a book containing piano sheet music for Lionel’s greatest hits. He captioned the post ‘Recovery.’
During this time Drake was travelling the globe with his Boy Meets World tour. So it’s logical to assume that Drake is referring to the piano as a hobby that helps him to unwind in his downtime.
The third instance is from March 2012. Here, Drake is seen sitting behind a grand piano. This post is captioned ‘Keys and Pies’. Similar to the last post, in March 2012 Drake was in the midst of his Club Paradise tour. So again, this picture seems to suggest that Drake plays the piano in his free time.
Elsewhere on Instagram, a Drake fan account posted a video that appears to show the rapper masterfully playing the piano. However, the clip ends with Drake saying “yo if I could play like that you guys would be so cheesed”. Upon second glance it’s clear that this is a self-playing piano, which means it’s not Drake playing.
Nevertheless, his words are still interesting. Drake says “if I could play like that”, which can be interpreted as either “if I could play to this level” or “if I could play the piano”. This doesn’t help us to determine whether Drake can play the piano, but it does appear to confirm that he’s not an expert pianist.
From the R&B beats of Fake Love to slowed down ballads like Shut It Down, pianos feature heavily throughout Drake’s discography.
Despite this, Drake has never played the piano live on stage (or anywhere for that matter). Likewise, he is not given credit for keys on any of his studio albums. The keys on his studio tracks are usually attributed to Chilly Gonzales or Noah Shabib.
This goes to show that Drake is not an advanced pianist. When it comes down to the stuff that matters, i.e. recording music, he would prefer to leave it to a professional, rather than record the keys himself.
It Runs in the Family
Before Drake had even released his debut album, he described himself as ‘last name ever, first name greatest’ on a collaborative track with some of the biggest names in rap, namely Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem.
But how was Drake so confident about his ability?
Well, music runs in his family. Drake’s father, Dennis Graham, is a keen musician himself. Growing up in a musical household, Dennis taught himself to play the drums, piano, and guitar at an early age. By the age of 18, he was performing alongside country musician Jerry Lee Lewis.
Dennis claims that he always encouraged Drake to get into music and acting as a child. In fact, in an interview with Billboard Dennis details an occasion when Drake was around 5 and he brought him onstage to play the tambourine.
So it’s not farfetched to say that Drake was raised with a zest for musical instruments. Even if he didn’t learn to play the piano fluently as a child, he almost definitely had access to one and was able to play around.
To summarise, it seems that Drake can, in fact, play the piano. He mainly plays for enjoyment and relaxation purposes in his spare time, rather than playing professionally.
As an amateur, it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing Drake show off his piano skills on stage any time soon. But who knows? Maybe it’s God’s Plan.