As an artist who both sings and raps, a voice coach was enlisted for Young Money artist Drake years ago. And during an exclusive interview with Jezebel, Drake’s voice coach, Dionne Osborne spoke with the publication about working with Drake, why rappers should take better care of their voices, and more.
Osborne, who previously worked with the likes of former Roc-A-Fella Records artist Teairra Mari and singer/songwriter Keri Hilson, recalled meeting Drake before his first tour. She says she was unsure if her presence would be welcomed since some artists are hesitant towards vocal coaches, but says the rapper greeted her with a big hug.
“So I show up early and the band is drilling me with questions,” Osborne said. “What are you going to do? What are you going to do to him? I start talking to them about health stuff, and they’re like, He loves his sweet tea. You’re never going to get him to give up his sweet tea. Then Drake walks in with his posse. You know how rappers never go anywhere without a big group of people. And he stuck his arms straight out and gave me a big hug and that was it…Drake is so funny. Later on he was like, ‘I looked at you and I just knew I was going to love you.’ He is exactly what you see. People say he’s corny, or he can’t be that nice, he can’t be so sweet. But I can tell you, he was raised by his mother and his grandmother. He’s had strong love from strong females. And we just totally connected. Maybe because he was an actor, I don’t know.”
Osborne recalled working with Drake around the time he released his mixtape, So Far Gone. She says that her goal at the time was to make the Canadian musician “a singer who raps” since she felt there was already so many “rappers who sing.”
“It was the mixtape, So Far Gone, and he was already pretty huge,” she said. “On our first session, I told him that my goal was to make him a singer who raps, not a rapper who sings. I know Drake loves rapping, that’s his first love. But the road is just littered with rappers who sing. They all try it. If you love music, you love singing, but not everyone succeeds. So on that first tour, we’re on the road, and Cortez Bryant, Lil Wayne’s manager, comes up to me and says, ‘Drake told me you changed his life.’ I just started laughing. He said that? But what I do think I did, honestly, was that I was the first person who treated Drake like a professional singer. I said, ‘Here’s the deal. You have to change your diet. You’re heading out on tour in the spring and not thinking about your asthma or your allergies. You’ve got to take care of yourself too. Let’s focus on helping you do your job.’”
Lastly, Osborne stressed the importance for all artists, even rappers, to take care of their voices. She revealed that she’s even suggested that she and Drake put on a workshop.
“I’ve told Drake a million times, we need to do a workshop,” Osborne said. “No one’s really telling hip-hop artists how to take care of themselves—they have short careers, they live it large and hard, with the smoking, the drinking and the partying. My point has always been that the competition is so tremendous, and you must do everything to make the most out of this moment. If you want to be those artists, if you want to be an Eminem or a Kanye, you have to go smarter, not harder. I try to get rappers to remember, you use the same vocal cords that Usher does. Imagine what Usher would sound like if he was smoking a pack a day and never touched a vegetable.”
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