Fat Joe said he regrets not signing Eminem to his label in the ‘90s, a mistake that Duck Down Records also made when an opportunity presented itself. Similarily, Murs had the chance to sign Kendrick Lamar to Warner Bros. and didn’t, Lil Wayne almost left Cash Money to join Def Jam under Jay Z’s presidency, and now we have another story to add to this "What if?" list - what if Akon had signed Drake to Konvict Music.
Sitting down with Montreality, Akon recalled the time Kardinal Offishall brought Drake to his attention. “This was before ‘Best I Ever Had,’ he said. “I honestly did pass on it, because at the time he didn’t sound like what he sounds like today.”
Akon went on to say that the early records he heard weren’t even close to the sound Drake found by the time of his '09 breakout hit. Akon continues, “He was in a position where he was finding himself.” It’s hard to argue that point as this was probably Comeback Season-era Drake. He wasn’t bad, but nobody would have guessed that Drake would become today's Drake after hearing that second tape.
While others may regret not signing an artist, especially an artist who's now more popular than the Beatles, Akon insists he has no regrets. “Ultimately, as time goes, people develop, they get better,” he said. “They become the best because of things like that [not getting signed]. Sometimes that motivates you to want to be better and take yourself to the next level.”
We all probably have that “what if” on our minds. Would Drake have evolved into the artist he is today under the Konvict Music umbrella? Was he always destined to be at the top, no matter who signed him? Akon’s label could’ve been just as much of a help as a road block, much like it was for French Montana before he signed to Bad Boy. Who knows what direction Drake's career could’ve gone in under Akon. He could have popped big like Lady Gaga or T-Pain or been a passing fad like Colby O’Donis.
As Akon mentions in the feature, being turned down is a motivating feeling to some. Drake had a tough time being taken seriously coming off Degrassi. It wasn’t until the summer of ‘08 when he linked up with Lil Wayne that things changed, and So Far Gone inspired a bidding war that ultimately Wayne won.
The rest is history, but history could have been very different.