First he welcomed us into his heart with the release of his So Far Gone mixtape in 2009; now, he’s welcomed us into his home.
This week, Drake gave Architectural Digest a tour of his puzzlingly large mansion in Toronto for its May issue. The Canadian rapper dubbed the formidable building “The Embassy,” a possible nod to the home’s distinguished size—at 50,000 square feet, it’s only 5,000 square feet smaller than the U.S. White House. But there’s no diplomacy in the way Drake, along with interior designer Ferris Rafauli, designed this home. The garishness of the cadmium-yellow lounge and the club-like indoor pool is as indisputable as Drake’s talent.
Drake debuted the completed interior on April 2 in his music video for “Toosie Slide.” Filmed solely on the property, the quarantine-friendly video is essentially a humblebrag of a house tour, disguised as a promotion for his latest single. Photos of the rapper’s architectural legacy, published in AD and posted to his Instagram, reveal a home that is made possible by having a fortune and a passion for displaying it.
We can envy his regulation-size basketball court, 3,200-square-foot bedroom suite, and roof terrace, while still hating the final product. Here are a few reasons why.
IT’S TOO BIG
“Because I was building it in my hometown, I wanted the structure to stand firm for 100 years. I wanted it to have a monumental scale and feel,” Drake, born Aubrey Graham, told AD. “It will be one of the things I leave behind, so it had to be timeless and strong.”
But at 50,000 square feet, it’s not just the structure that will be around for a long time—the environmental impact will too. The construction industry is one of the worst for the environment, contributing as much as 50% of landfill waste and 40% of global energy usage. After buying the land in 2015, Drake demolished the 1963 midcentury home (designed by late Canadian modernist architect James A. Murray) that occupied it. We don’t know exactly where those old materials ended up, but it’s unlikely they were repurposed for the new behemoth.
There was a time when gauche opulence was mainstream—think MTV Cribs, Swarovski-crystal encrusted cell phones, and flashy luxury cars with neon racing stripes and chrome rims. As we sit in humbler abodes, it’s a fun exercise to wonder what Drake’s Pinterest board must have looked like to end up with a design aesthetic so deeply 2007. It’s as if the goal of the project was escapism—to a department store in Dubai, or a parody of the recent past—instead of the simple and reasonable comforts we’ve come to expect from a home.
Questionably described as “modern Art Deco,” the limestone and bronze construction looks loosely inspired by luxury, but ultimately like it’s been crafted by master counterfeiters selling convincing knockoffs on Canal Street. Drake’s house yearns both for the early 2000s (interestingly, the era right before his musical ascent) as well as bygone centuries. The result is a mishmash of styles that compete for attention and ultimately make the space feel disjointed, belying the five-year collaboration that gave birth to the design.
Drake’s 4,000-pound black marble tub is drool-worthy, as is the master bathroom that surrounds it, marked by marble floors, marble walls, and a marble vanity. The trouble with the slickness of this moody escape is that it is distressingly spaced-out. Stepping out of a bath with wet feet quickly becomes a recipe for disaster. (Couldn’t he add a tasteful bath mat?) The spiked chandeliers float above a central staircase like heavy asterisks; their weight, combined with the many turns of waxy, smooth steps, might feel like a daunting labyrinth to guests navigating the manor—especially after glasses of whiskey and champagne.
Just like plants (which don’t seem to exist in Drake’s mansion), people need light to thrive. Though the rapper’s abode has striking light fixtures in spades, it’s noticeably dark—perhaps a nod to the celebrity nightlife he knows well. The studio lounge is a dimly lit amber; the indoor pool is illuminated by soft, colorful club lights; and his collection of basketball jerseys is hung in black shadow boxes. Windows are involved in the design, to be sure, but it seems like Drake prefers his vitamin D from one carefully placed skylight.
The diamond-tufted sofa in his mirrored, two-story master closet is luxe but just as impersonal as a department store dressing room. The daybed in his recording studio, dressed with a patterned Jean Paul Gaultier textile, sits under hot magenta lights. The Bösendorfer concert grand piano, designed by Rafauli and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, gives the grand room a nice touch. But thoughtful elements like that are quickly undercut by gauche, Beaux Arts-inspired choices such as wall panels of macassar ebony framed by bronze screens. The lack of cohesion is frustrating, but strangely feels like the most honest part of the whole design scheme. For a rapper who’s channeled a different sound on virtually every album, it makes sense.