As Drake walks into the room, his body language projects an air of confidence.
On any other day, it may go unnoticed, but on the eve of releasing his third album, "Nothing Was the Same," there's a look of satisfaction in his eyes. The mere mention of the record brings a smile to his face.
He describes it as "an album that you have to listen to front to back and then go over and listen to it again."
That's pretty bold considering that his last album, "Take Care," won a Grammy Award this year for best rap album.
But brashness counts as a virtue when it comes to hip-hop stars. So does aggression and machismo, which some critics find lacking in Drake. Though he's sold millions and has critical acclaim to go with the pop success, he's frequently criticized as "soft." Many of the attacks center on his willingness to show his sensitive side, evident in songs like "Marvin's Room" or "Find Your Love."
"I'm just being me, and part of being me is being in touch with emotion. That's all I write about. If I didn't write about my emotions, I don't know what else I would write about. I'd make songs about generic things that nobody could relate to and I probably wouldn't be in this position that I'm in right now," said Drake, born Aubrey Drake Graham, in an interview Monday.
Drake says he can "laugh off a lot of it," but added: "Some of it is tiring and exhausting."
"I'm emotional, yeah, I guess. Let that be the worst thing in my life, please, not something like drug charges and God knows what else. I don't get myself in trouble, so if the negative feedback that I do get is the worst thing that's going to happen to me, then so be it," he said in a slightly defiant tone.
Feeling that his sound continues to evolve, he has no plans to shy away from his signature reflective nature. On the record, he addresses issues with family and friends, even high-profile friends like Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. Neither performed with him on the record, but he claims it's not personal.
"That's my label, that's my team, so whenever they're ready to pull something together, I'd love to be a part of it," he said, referring to his Cash Money Records mates.
On the 13-track "Nothing Was the Same," the 26-year-old Canadian wanted to come up with a leaner set of songs, mostly because he concentrated too much on quantity on the last album.
"(Back then) I wanted to give people as much as I could. I felt like I've been away for a while, and they deserved as much music as possible. It ended up being like a 20-song project," he said of the Grammy-winning "Take Care."
Drake said winning the Grammy in February was "sweet," and he wishes it wasn't the year the rap award wasn't on the live telecast.
"I had a great speech to make. But I will have other opportunities, I pray," he said.
Until then, he gave this award to his favorite lady.
"My mother is an incredible woman. I talk about her a lot on this album. She's brought me to this point single-handedly," Drake said, smiling. "She's the most important person in my life."
"It's in her kitchen now. One day she's going to put some shelves up in her house and start displaying some stuff," he added.