(Rihanna and Drake spotted clubbing in NYC, June, 2009)

With Drake’s Thank Me Later album about to drop next week, Jon Caramanica talked to Drake about the album and the events that inspired it for the New York Times. And along with calling Drake the “New Face of Hip Hop,” he asks about Drake’s duet with Alicia Keys, “Fireworks,” which was inspired by the emotional rollercoaster that hot-n-cold Rihanna took him on last year ….

On “The Resistance” he raps about an accidental pregnancy with a woman he was briefly involved with, who chose to end the pregnancy. And on “Fireworks” there’s a verse about Rihanna, who asked him last year to write a song for her new album; the two soon began seeing each other regularly, though they never publicly confirmed their brief relationship.

I was a pawn,” Drake said. The song he wrote for her never got released. “You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I’ve done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear,” he said. “I was like, wow, this feels terrible.”

I remember that Drake and Rihanna were an “item” around the time that Drake did his first SOBs show. And I heard that the very next day, he was getting flown to London to “work” with Rihanna again, but that at the time, they’re relationship was still, um…unconsummated, lol. I hope for his sake, at least that milestone was passed before she “curved” on him ; )

Drake tells DJ Flexx, “..The burning question will be answered in 5 days”
Oh word?: More Drake and Rihanna sightings, in NYC
Exclusive: Drake in London with Rihanna…..
So what about Drake’s lovey Rihanna shoutout last week??

More excerpts from the NYT piece after the jump…

In 2006 Drake, then an acolyte of hip-hop’s thoughtful bohemian wing, released his first mixtape, “Room for Improvement.” He also was testing out the rapper lifestyle, spending money — some from “Degrassi,” some borrowed from family and friends — out of step with his actual earning.

He leased a Rolls-Royce Phantom, parking it on the street outside the family’s apartment, much to his mother’s chagrin. “Who drives a Phantom and doesn’t have a place to park it?” Ms. Graham remembers asking her son. “And what’s even more embarrassing is we owe so much money and we have so many debts and bills.”

Summers were spent with his father’s side of the family, in Memphis, where one of his cousins was dating the manager of the rapper Yo Gotti. There Drake gained an affection for the energy of Southern rap, which contrasted with the headier material he had started out making himself.

The New Orleans rap star Lil Wayne heard Drake’s music in the summer of 2008 and invited him out on the road. “I sat in the same place on the bus for a week,” Drake recalled. “I was scared.” Wayne only found out about Drake’s acting past when he landed on “Degrassi” while flipping channels on the bus’s television.

In short order Drake became a key part of Wayne’s touring madhouse, and whenever there was downtime, in a studio or hotel room, he worked on songs. The outcome was “So Far Gone,” his third mixtape and one of last year’s best-received hip-hop recordings. It’s one of the most ambivalent, melancholy documents of rap success ever released, which is odd, because it was recorded long before Drake’s turn in the limelight.

On “So Far Gone” he sought to cultivate multiple audiences at once: in addition to straight-ahead rap songs, he also rapped over instrumentals from indie acts like Santigold, Lykke Li and Peter Bjorn & John. “That was supposed to be the wild and crazy project we did to get that out of our system before we put out a really generic rap album,” said Oliver el-Khatib, Drake’s longtime friend and de facto creative consultant.

Most notably, he sang — some songs in their entirety. In part that was a response to heartbreak: he’d been trying to shake loose of a destructive relationship with a manipulative woman who had taunted him with the fact that she had previously been involved with a famous rap star. The wounded R&B songs are about her. “I don’t even know if I wrote a rap song in that whole nine months,” Drake said, “because I wasn’t a rapper anymore. I didn’t believe in myself. I was someone else’s property.” (He was so uncertain about the sung tracks on “So Far Gone” that he tried to get them placed on an album by his friend the R&B singer Trey Songz — fortunately, with no luck.) (Source: NYT)