Drake's "re-barmitzvah"

By Marcus Dysch
April 11, 2012

Canadian rapper Drake is one of the hottest names in the music industry at the moment.

His collaborations with Rihanna have propelled him to the higher echelons of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. He has written tracks for, and performed with, global megastars including Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys. Drake has almost seven million Twitter followers.

Drake – whose real name is Aubrey Graham – was born in Toronto in October 1986, the son of an African-American father and Canadian-Jewish mother, who sent him to a Jewish school and ensured he had a barmitzvah.

After his parents divorced, he began acting at the same time as taking the first steps in his music career. By 2009 he had seen a song reach number two on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

The 25-year-old’s career has since rocketed, but, it seems, he is still a good Jewish boy at heart…

Drake toured Britain last month and during his sell-out O2 gig in London he apparently waved an Israeli flag while shouting: "Shout out to all my Jewish people in the house!" (Incidentally, when the tour moved to Manchester he made a new friend – Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who he shared a curry dinner and various parties with.)

Now Drake has gone a step further to identify with his Jewish upbringing. Last October he had a “re-barmitzvah” to show his commitment to Judaism. The video for his latest song, HYFR, claims to display the events that took place at the simchah.

I’d suggest reality was a little different to the musical entertainment version, given that the latter features more expletives than a Malcolm Tucker pep-talk. After opening with footage of a young Aubrey mouthing "mazeltov" and dancing at a simchah it moves on to the modern day.

Set in a synagogue the video shows Drake apparently performing his maftir before going on to enjoy the simchah by lighting candles, smashing up a re-barmitzvah cake, being carried on a chair, and tucking into a typically gargantuan kosher buffet.

It is a truly bizarre, but somehow heart-warming, display.

The explicit language and adult themes in the video preclude me from showing you it here on a family newspaper’s website, but if you are not easily offended and want to take a look you can see it here on YouTube, where it has racked up an impressive 1.24 million YouTube hits since its MTV premiere last week. (WARNING/disclaimer: The video features repeated use of highly offensive language and is not suitable for viewing at work or by children under the age of 18).

I suspect this is not the last we’ll hear of Drake, or his Jewish roots.


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