While some artists use their music to express their admiration for their idols, Drake tends to pay homage to his influences in a more permanent way. Whether he hangs a large painting of Beyonce in his condo, or tattoos a portrait of his idol Weezy on his arm, Drake has turned his admiration into art and over the years, his body has slowly become his canvas.
Over the weekend, Toronto tattoo artist Inal Bersekov shared photos of his latest ink session with Drizzy on Instagram, where the rapper expanded his tribute tattoo collection to include a portrait of iconic actor Denzel Washington’s role in the Spike Lee 1990 film Mo’ Better Blues and OVO member Fif, who was fatally shot in Toronto on Thursday (Sept. 14).
As Drake’s tribute collection gradually multiplies, Billboard compiled a timeline of the rapper’s celebrity tattoos, from Aaliyah and Sade to his most recent ink additions.
Aaliyah’s Face Is Etched on Drake’s Back – Dec. 2011
In December 2011, photos surfaced of a shirtless-Drake on a tennis court that revealed a tattoo of a woman on the left side of his back. Drake has long shared his admiration for the late singer in his music. Drizzy interpolated Aaliyah‘s “Are You That Somebody” lyrics “Boy, I gotta watch my back, ’cause I’m not just anybody” in his verse for Young Money’s 2009 hit “Bedrock,” and even released a collab with the late artist titled “Enough Said” in 2012. He also penned a letter to his idol in 2010, expressing the pain he felt when she passed away in 2001.
Drake and Skepta Solidify Their Bromance With Matching Tattoos – Oct. 2015
Drake may be from Toronto, but he ties to places all across the world. Drizzy first shouted out U.K. grime rapper Skepta in the credits for his 2015 mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and eventually went on to collaborate on Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba” (Remix). Skepta sampled Drake’s voice for his hit “Shutdown,” and was featured on Drizzy’s More Life album for “Skepta’s Interlude.”
In October 2015, Skepta posted an image of Drake sporting a “BBK” tattoo, which stands for Boy Better Know, Skepta’s U.K. collective. “More than music. OVO BBK family for Life,” he wrote on the photo. Many speculated that Drake’s new tattoo meant the Toronto native was signed to BBK, and in February 2016, the 6 God confirmed that he was “The first Canadian signed to BBK.”
Drake Becomes Apart of Popcaan’s Unruly Crew – Nov. 2016
Caribbean influences can be heard in a plethora of Drake cuts, especially his most recent effort More Life. Drake teamed up with Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan for his hit single “Controlla,” and although Popcaan’s verse was cut from the Views version of the track, the two artists paid tribute to each other by getting matching tattoos. Drake tattooed Popcaan’s popular tag “Unruly” on his arm under a flaming skull, while Popcaan responded by etching the OVO owl on his forearm.
Drake Shows Sade Love – March 2017
Earlier this year, Drake posted an image of himself standing in between his mother and R&B songstress Sade, and captioned the photo “Two very important ladies in my life.” Just a few days after posting the photo, a European tattoo artist named Niki Norberg shared a photo of the rapper’s new tattoo, which happened to be a portrait of Sade and a handwritten note underneath that read “with love, Sade x.”
Drake Expands His Sade Tattoo – June 2017
The Toronto native took his love for Sade to new heights this June, adding another portrait of the singer right next to the first tattoo of the “No Ordinary Love” singer.
Lil Wayne Is Added to Drake’s Ink Collection – July 2017
Weezy was one of the first rappers to take notice of Drake’s talent, and signed the budding Toronto rapper to his Young Money imprint back in 2009. Back in July, Drizzy posted a photo of himself on his Instagram, which showed a Lil Wayne portrait on the back of his left arm. TMZ reported that sources close to Wayne said the rapper was “floored and honored” when he saw Drizzy’s tattoo. Over the years, the duo has unleashed a barrage of hit songs together, including “Right Above It,” “Love Me” featuring Future, “Miss Me,” and “Believe Me.”
Drake Honors Denzel Washington and his late friend/OVO Sound Affiliate Fif – Sept. 2017
While most of Drake’s previous tattoos were faces of his musical influences, the “Passionfruit” rapper switched things up for his most recent ink additions. Drizzy recruited Toronto artist Inal Bersekov to create a tribute to Denzel Washington and his role as trumpet player Bleek Gilliam in the 1990 movie Mo’ Better Blues. The next portrait Bersekov sketched was of Anthony “Fif” Soares, a friend of the OVO head honcho who recently passed away after being shot in Toronto. The tattoo reads “Forever Fif” above an image of Fif.