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Such vulnerable displays have invited mockery from old-guard hip-hop gatekeepers (including, oddly, Common, who called Drake "soft") and anonymous online hordes.

"There's these GIFs about me, these stupid stereotypes people have of me as this overly emotional character that cries in his room every night," says Drake.

The vibe inside is part dude ranch, part gentleman's manor, part Medieval Times: rustic wooden beams stained a deep chocolaty brown; marble-top side tables; vaulted fireplaces; craggy, cavelike walls.

"Originally, I had a sign outside that said the yolo estate," he says – he popularized the acronym, which stands for You Only Live Once, in a single – "but it got stolen three times, and it was getting a bit costly to replace it, so I just changed it to the street number.

Are those iron torches, affixed to the grotto's interior walls, belching flames? Is that a pair of majestic elk, fashioned from stone, standing sentinel up top?

Bar mitzvahed in 1999, Drake must be the only pop artist alive who can both recite from the Torah and get away with constantly using the word "nigga" in his lyrics – his mother is white; his father is black.

See and More of the Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2013Drake's coup, building on the example of Kanye West, was to flout prevailing notions about what sort of background a rapper should come from and what kinds of things he should rap about: On one typically candid song, he drunk-dials a former flame and makes an ass of himself trying to woo her.

He was a mover and a shaker, a hustler: If you had it, he could sell it for you." In a song from 2009, Drake describes visiting Western Union to wire money to his dad, and wondering whether his father's professions of love are sincere or opportunistic.

Drake's mother, born Sandi Sher, moved with the young Aubrey to several rented apartments around Toronto, finally settling in the bottom half of a town house in the upscale suburb of Forest Hill.

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