Jaimie Vernon_Viletones

Dear Drake,

You and I have never met so I hesitate to call you by your given name, Aubrey, but it’s times like these where it’s important to talk to the man your Mama raised, and not the superstar visage the world has grown to know.


I’m sending out the Bat Signal to millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne…not his unspoken, flighty alter-ego.
There is a crisis in Gotham City. Toronto – your home, my home – is under siege. Jim Lee batmanWe are nearing the tipping point of 2005’s Summer of the Gun when 52 of Toronto’s 79 homicides were from gunshots. Do you remember the fear, the tension, and the paranoia? Or how about 2012 with the Danzig Street shootings or when Christopher Husbands shot up the food court at the Eaton Centre – a place where you and I have both spent time with our friends and families shopping, hanging out and even playing tourist in our own city. All those events have left an indelible stamp on Toronto. We’re now a city who’ve become afraid of stepping into public spaces. Our only peace of mind has come in the hope that there will be justice and jail time in many of these violent shootings.

But our resolve has been shaken once again at the hands of unknown assailants who shot up the OVO Fest after-party – the one with your name on it – at the Muzik nighclub located at the site of the Canadian National Exhibition.

Mark Saunders

The new Chief of Police, Mark Saunders, held a press conference August 11th asking for the public’s help in piecing together the events that led to the death of the man who they believe was the intended victim, Duvel Hibbert, and an innocent bystander by the name of Ariela Navarro-Fenoy.


The media wanted to know if Mr. Saunders had asked for your assistance in making a statement. His response was that he thought your involvement was a moot point as the crime was committed in a nightclub at an event you did not attend – despite a similar, non-fatal shooting, that happened at your OVO Fest after-party last year as well.

Drake2I vehemently disagree. This annual celebration at Muzik was in your honour. The patrons were in attendance to celebrate your generosity and hospitality. You have decided to give back to the city that has given you so much. It’s a pretty cool thing to do. It’s also a heavy responsibility that you’ve assumed.

But now there are two dead people, a question mark surrounding the future of the club and most certainly an end to your yearly party – at least in a public space. Over 3000 people attended yor event and the most they have to go on is a few Instagram photos and smartphone video footage that may or may not have anything to do with the crime.  The management at Muzik have, however, turned over the club’s security footage.

mark-saunders-kevin-van-paasen-the-globe-and-mail (1)The culture of silence is loud and clear. Saunders‘ belief that Torontonians should come forward out of common decency rings hollow and a bit naive. His recent promotion to Chief came at the tail end of a decade long policy of carding minorities. Trust between the police and under protected communities is at an all time low. A witness coming forward isn’t going to do so in a climate of fear and distrust. Saunders has yet to earn it.
Meek Mill

There’s also the matter of your ongoing public feud with rapper Meek Mill.  This is where you come in, Aubrey. It’s time for you to stop catering to, or at least sympathizing with, the thug life. You’re from Toronto, for God’s sake. Thugs? We’re a milquetoast town masquerading as South Central L.A. It’s not like you came from a life of street survival. You were raised half-Jewish in the affluent neighbourhood of Forest Hill. C’mon…
So, If it’s your reputation as a snitch or a police informant that you fear being called, then it’s time you grew up and learned about social justice. Talk to your predecessor Snow. 

NO ARCHIVES NO SALES ONE TIME USE ONLY FILE--Canadian rapper Snow is shown in this recent handout photo. When an Irish kid from a rundown Toronto neighbourhood can disrupt a giant beach party in Kingston, Jamaica with merely his presence, it's fair to say he's a legitimate star. That's what happened to Darrin O'Brien, better known as Snow, on a trip to the sunny island late last summer. (CP PHOTO/HO/Virgin Music)

His first rule is having empathy and pride of community. There are two destroyed families out there mourning the loss of loved ones who both attended your party. I know you’re a decent guy – and you weren’t just playing one on Degrassi. You have something few others in authority do not – the public trust.

As media figure Drake you’ve become an ambassador for not just Toronto (and our basketball team, The Raptors) but Canada on the world music stage. Unlike the enfante terrible, Justin Beiber, and foul-mouthed but antiseptically clean Michael Bublė, you’ve got a superstar profile and street cred. I respect those achievements. So much so that I put you on the cover of one of my books – in the same spot as another phenomenal Canadian statesman who preceded you Maestro Fresh Wes – on the cover of my companion book.

Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia Volume1

You’ve earned your place and the accolades. It has garned you success and wealth. With it you’ve come back to Toronto time and time again to keep things real. Now that reality has caught up to you. Now it’s time to take responsibility and put your significant clout and media power to good use.

Issue a real statement. Your publicist, Melissa Nathan, went to town on The Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington about his request for a statement – which resulted in the statement that there’d be no statement (WTF?). If you don’t want to support or cooperate with the police that’s your (irresponsible) prerogative – you seemed to have a lot to say in the wake of the 2012 shootings on Danzig Street in Scarborough.

Drake and RaptorsMaple Leaf Sports and Entertainment – who work with you to promote the Raptors – are currently deciding your fate. Public pressure and your refusal to speak up has put their brand at risk. That puts your brand at risk. Because once the corporations and mass media turns on you, street cred means nothing. Meak Mill will be the least of your problems.

Address those 3000 Muzik nightclub attendees directly. Implore people to come forward, to help solve these murders. The message will not resonate with everyone but those who were there on your behalf, specifically your admirers, will hear your call. It isn’t just that you’re Drake from The Six. Its that you’re Aubrey from Toronto the Good.  Get the dialogue moving, the phones ringing and set the media on fire. Step up. Do the right thing. Don’t make me take you off the cover of my book. Just make me and your Mama proud. Aubrey Graham can be the hero here and Drake can go back to being too cool for school.

Minutes before I hit send so that Bob Segarini could post this on the DBAWIS blog, Drake finally issued a statement. I leave it to you to interpret whether his intent was sympathetic or self-serving.

“The last few days I have been in a moral bind.

I am used to the fact that my life and the things I say to my fans are‎ closely watched. It’s tough in situations like this where there’s a tragedy and I consider the advice of my trusted advisors and counsel who worry that anything I might say could be misinterpreted.

However, today I am choosing to follow my heart.

I am plagued and pained by the violence that continues to escalate in our city. I stare into the eyes of so many young people and I wish to see them all shine as bright as they possibly can in this lifetime. I encourage my generation to show as much value and gratitude as you can for the lives we have been gifted.

My deepest condolences go out to the Navarro-Fenoy and Hibbert families for their loss of Ariela and Duvel. Along with them I send my condolences to all of the families that have lost loved ones to the senseless violence that has and continues to occur in our city.

Although Toronto is globally viewed as a major city, at the core we are still a small close-knit community, and it is our public responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of one another. We need each other to further our communities for generations to come.

I pray for better times and better understanding.

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com http://gwntertainment.wix.com/jaimievernon

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