He didn't ask permission, and after the city reviewed the matter, it decided to let the billboard remain. The billboard has the name of the album and its release date under the Toronto logo and above the city's population: 2,753,609.   Sheppard said he works every day with 16- to 22-year-olds from poor neighborhoods, and they all like Drake. "These kids feel him, they support him," he said. "Some people say he ain't got the ghetto — he doesn't know what the ghetto feels. Well, he does. We're out there."   Drake grew up in a wealthy Toronto suburb called Forest Hill. (As Brown put it, "He's not out of the hood, so there are not a lot of hood tales that would have planted the seed for any bad blood.") Sheppard thinks that Drake embodies the state of in-between-ness that is constantly being navigated in Toronto — what he calls "a schismatic and at the same time cohesive city." Many Toronto residents are first-generation immigrants. "Drake intiutively understands that, being of mixed race."  

He also broke with the more hard-core rap that previously dominated the Toronto scene. "He brings a different edge to it," Rich Kidd says. "He brings a lot of honesty to his music, brings you into his emotions. We all respect Drake — you have to respect his artistry because he's done it in a way that no one else has up here."   So Drake's claims check out.    Daniel Dale, a reporter for The Toronto Star, told me, "People are proud that he has made it so big and he hasn't forgotten where he comes from."   But how does Drake rank in the pantheon of the city's heroes? Does his shadow loom as large as that of, say, Joe Carter, the Blue Jays player who got the final out of the 1992 World Series (Toronto's first MLB championship) and then won the following year's Series with a three-run homer?   "There's an age divide," said Dale. "If you're 20 or under, you wouldn't know who Joe Carter was."

In 2010, he staged a summer music festival, the OVO Festival, and he did it again in 2011. (OVO stands for October's Very Own, Drake's entertainment company.) The festival shuts down the city, with major acts like , Jay-Z, Eminem and , plus homegrown talent like Kardinal Offishall and Drake's friend and R&B wonder boy, Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name, . "He's bringing things that would never have been possible before for Toronto," Sheppard said. "He made it happen and he's sharing that moment with LED Low Bay Light. People here respect what he's done for the city in terms of opening doors. He brought the spotlight to this city."   To promote his new album, Drake appropriated Toronto's official city logo for  placed over the expressway that leads downtown.