Before he was Drake, chart-topping rapper, meme icon and veritable hip-hop heartthrob, he was Aubrey Drake Graham—emerging Canadian actor, musician and teen TV star.

Born October 24, 1986, Drake is one of today's best-selling, most recognizable artists, but in the early 2000s, he got his start on a little-known (sarcasm!) teen drama series called Degrassi: The Next Generation, playing high school basketball star Jimmy Brooks.

In 2007, he departed the show to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper and dropped his debut mixtape, Room for Improvement, which, along with two additional indie projects, led to his signing with Lil Wayne's Young Money in June 2009. (Fun fact: T.I. famously passed on signing Drake — he didn't get the, ahem, "emo" sound.)

Drake released his debut studio album, Thank Me Later, in 2010. The record shot to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and his next releases were just as successful, with his 2011 record, Take Care, earning his a Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Since then, the rapper's star has only continued to rise, with more recent songs like "Hotline Bling" and "Nice for What" becoming bona fide radio chart-toppers, emblematic of the popular music zeitgeist.

Today, Drake isn't just mega-famous — he's a history-maker, holding several records, including the most charted songs for a solo artist in the History of the Billboard Hot 100.

Below, see photos of Drake through the years, from his Degrassi days to "God's Plan."

Drake Through the Years

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