Across the street from S.O.T.A. Studios, a brand new live/work complex in an industrial cul-de-sac at the edge of Toronto’s West End, a blonde in a colorful sports bra and a pair of running shorts stands atop a speed boat parked in a gravel lot, cleaning it with a hose and a bucket. It’s a humid August day, the sun is way up in the sky, and the neighborhood is quiet, save the occasional car driving by. The woman likely has no idea what goes on in the squat gray building 100 feet away, where Drake records and where October’s Very Own—the label and clothing brand he jointly owns with manager Oliver El-Khatib and engineer and producer Noah “40” Shebib—has recently planted new roots. There are two cars parked outside; near the entrance, a pair of hockey nets is set up.
Drake has been famous since the early days of the Obama presidency. Meanwhile, the team that’s buoyed his career has operated partly under shadow. Drake’s OVO associates have avoided press and chosen to let Drake speak as their representative; the likable picture he’s drawn in return is an aspirational folktale, of a kid from Toronto who became a star with the help of his best friends. But as Drake enters a new stratosphere of pop stardom, OVO is reckoning with what it means to scale a small business. The construction of the multi-million dollar studio and office space has marked an important step for the company—a centralization of its sprawling efforts, and a more formal approach to its undeniable growth.