Toronto City Councillor Norm Kelly has never heard of hip/hop rapper Meek Mill. But when the Philadelphia-artist attacked Canadian hip/hop treasure Drake this past week on Twitter, the politician stepped up to defend a “Canadian hero,” telling Meek that he’s “no longer welcome in Toronto.”
ET Canada spoke with Norm on Friday – as he goes by via his Twitter handle– about how he got involved in the celebrity feud, if the hatchet is buried yet between him and Meek and what he thinks of Drake.
ET Canada: Do you write your own tweets?
Norm Kelly: I do. But I have to tell you, I try it out on people. I think it was about five years ago that I started to tweet, but it was sporadically, didn’t work at it until I became the Deputy Mayor. It’s a good outlet.
ET Canada: What made you react the way you did toward Meek Mill’s tweet against Drake?
Norm Kelly: Well you know, I’ve been poking fun at Drake for some time. The attack, I guess, by Meek prompted my reaction; I thought it was unfair.
ET Canada: Did you know of Meek beforehand?
Norm Kelly: No. This has all been a learning curve for me. I’m getting to learn the personalities and the language!
ET Canada: Do you hope that Drake knows about that fact that you came to his defense?
Norm Kelly: I’ve never talked personally with him. We’ve never had any communication between himself and myself or our respective offices. But I think he’s as good a face of modern Toronto as anyone else. And when he came under attack, I thought, you know, I felt defensive, and I rushed to his side! “Hey I can poke gentle fun at him, but you can’t! You’re an American! And you’re coming to his city, my city, our city in a week’s time! And you’re dissing him. C’mon!'”;
ET Canada: Are you a fan of the hip/hop music genre?
Norm Kelly: I came of age when rock n’ roll started. I’m aware of the genre and frankly I like the lyrics better than the music. Because sometimes it’s just the beat. So, I’m learning more about it. One of the interesting features of public life and especially in a city like Toronto, is that you get to learn a lot of things in this job. We look after not only a large city, but a multicultural one.
ET Canada: How do you think Drake fits into Toronto’s multicultural future?
Norm Kelly: Toronto has changed significantly. Right now, because competition between cities is going to become stiffer and it’s going to be more between cities going forward in the 21st century than it is between countries – I think it’s really important to develop a city brand. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to sit on the economic development committee in the city of Toronto. And Drake is a part of that rebranding. He’s helping to put a modern, a cool, hip- whatever the words of the day may be- interpretation of Toronto out to the world. And I think because we’re going to be competing with other urban regions for people and investment, in order to create the jobs of the future, I think it’s important to have an up-to-date brand that people around the world recognize and admire. I think Toronto’s moving in that direction. I think [Drake] is a part of that.
ET Canada: Is the hatchet buried with Meek?
Norm Kelly: Well he apologized apparently. I would loved to have been a fly on the wall when people close to him talked to him about this. And it’s a vulgar statement, but you’ve probably heard it “don’t pee against the wind.’ And I think Drake has an enviable reputation internationally, a fabulous one at home and you’re coming onto his home turf and you’re going to treat him like that? But he has apparently stepped back. And that’s fine. I’m moving on to other things right now.