Woody Allen is a pretty famous New Yorker. It would be hard to say he is the most famous New Yorker because so many artists are from there, and what’s more so many of them are happy to talk about it. Al Pacino wears his upbringing in Hell’s Kitchen as a badge of honor. Countless books and movies are set in New York, written about New York, or reference the hardened character (or caricature) of a crusty New Yorker.
Toronto? Not so much. Keanu Reeves is from here, as is Jim Carrey, Malcolm Gladwell, Howie Mandel, and dozens of other famous people. Winnipeg? You don’t hear Burton Cummings show off too much about that charming mid-western locale. Montreal? Everyone knows Celine Dion is from there but she doesn’t seem to show off too much about North America’s coolest place. And William Shatner shows off about his own mediocre self way more than most of us can tolerate, but rarely about his place of birth.
I don’t mind Drake. He is more celebrity than musician and doesn’t seem to have much of a singing voice. But neither did Madonna, and hey, this is what the kids want to listen to nowadays. What distinguishes Drake the most from his fellow Canadian celebrities is his willingness to promote his hometown. He shows up to sporting events, hangs out with mayors (even interim mayors) writes songs about us, and generally talks us up whenever he can. Very nice. And like the fat kid at the dance who was sure we would go home alone, we are so pleased and shocked to get his attention that we lavish him with every bit of praise and adulation known to mankind. You picked us? You like us? You actually admit to others you are from here? When you come home with us we will thank you with every ounce of energy we have. The Key to the city is only the beginning!
Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great that Drake isn’t as shy to promote Canada and Toronto as a lot of other celebs. I don’t think Drake purposely chose to associate with the Toronto brand because he knew he could own it fully completely (sic). But if he had, it would have been a brilliant move; find a tired brand that needs your help, promote it and get back at least as much as you give. And the two brands are doing each other a lot of good. Drake’s brand may not benefit from its TO link in the US, but here at home he has reached God like status. And Toronto can use every bit of Non-Rob Ford publicity it can lay its hands on.