Hip-hop phenom Drake may only be 23 years old, but his roots in the rap world run quite deep. His debut album Thank Me Later (which just dropped into stores this week) is the result of years of studying at the feet of a handful of masters, toiling in the mixtape circuit and traveling across most of the eastern part of North America in an effort to synthesize his unique style and to build his credibility.
But who is connected to the man born Aubrey Graham? As you can see in the family tree below, there are a number of branches that stretch Drake's development in a number of different directions.
There are a handful of associates from Toronto (Oliver, 40 and Niko) as well as a handful of dudes who have had his back since the beginning (including about-to-blow producer Boi 1da and R&B sex jammer Trey Songz). Then there is Drake's actual label family, lead by boss and mentor Lil Wayne and featuring fellow Young Money associates Nicki Minaj and Mack Maine (as well as Cash Money boss Birdman).
Of course, there are also a number of elder statesmen who have embraced Drake and have become part of his greater reach. That includes Kanye West (the pair collaborated on "Forever") and Jay-Z (who tapped Drake for a guest spot on "Off That," from Jigga's 2009 album The Blueprint 3).
As his skills continue to develop (and especially if Thank Me Later does as well sales-wise as everyone expects), Drake's family tree will continue to grow. But even for a rookie, he's got quite a bit of talent, charisma and influence behind him. No wonder he's the hottest thing in hip-hop.