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Wheelchair Drake is an advice animal image macro series that combines wheelchair-related puns with lyrics of music created by Canadian recording artist Drake. The image template is based on a photograph of Drake’s wheelchair-bound teen character Jimmy Brooks in the teen drama TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation.
The photograph of Drake was taken sometime in 2005 to promote the fifth season of the Canadian TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation, which premiered on September 19th, 2005. The earliest known reference to Drake’s fictional character Jimmy and his wheelchair can be found in a demotivational image macro with the caption “they see me rollin, they hatin”. The image spread across the blogs in 2009 and the Facebook page titled “Drake in a wheelchair” was launched on August 5th that same year.
One of the first image macros with a wordplay on Drake’s lyrics was created on ROFLbot and submitted via FunnyJunk on August 30th, 2010. The image was captioned “Last Name Walk, First Name Never,” playing off on Drake’s lyrics from the 2009 single “Forever” to allude to his recurring role on the TV series.
A Memegenerator page for “Drake Wheelchair” first appeared in late 2011, shortly after the release of Drake’s second studio album Take Care on November 15th, 2011. In the following days, a similar Quickmeme page titled “Drake Meme” was launched. On November 22nd, 2011, Hollywood news site GrantLand published an article titled “The Top Ten Drake Memes” which included a mention of Drake Wheelchair with mixed feelings:
“I kind of want to vote this down for insensitivity, but Wheelchair Drake is way too popular to ignore. And since Drake was just acting, the joke isn’t making fun of the disabled, it’s making fun of a rap star’s drama-club days. Fair game. Play ball.”
The earliest instance on Quickmeme alluded to Drake’s lyrics from the song “Headlines,” juxtaposed against a photo of him sitting on a wheelchair from his acting days on Degressi.
One of the most recognizable instances featuring the caption “You Only Walk Once, That’s The Motto / YOWO” (shown above) was uploaded via Quickmeme sometime in early January 2012. Additional examples of the series can be found on various humor sites like FunnyJunk as well as on Tumblr under the tag “YOWO.”
The majority of “Drake Wheelchair” jokes consist of puns that play off on Drake’s song lyrics and his teenage acting career as a cast member of Degrassi: The Next Generation, a Nickelodeon TV series about high school drama and coming-of-age experiences.
Sticker Art Prank in Toronto
On September 5th, 2014, Canadian blogger Lauren O’Neil posted an Imgur photo album to the /r/toronto subreddit (shown below), showcasing a series of public signs for the International Wheelchair symbol across downtown Toronto that she had decorated with sticker cutouts of Drake’s head in reference to the meme.
On September 8th, The Huffington Post published an article highlighting the sticker art photos. The following day, BuzzFeed published an article about the stickers, identifying O’Neil (shown below) and her boyfriend Steven Stinson as the pranksters responsible for the photos. In the coming days, the pop culture blogs US Weekly and MTV News reported on the Drake sticker art sightings.
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