Since he first promoted The Weeknd's House of Balloons mixtape earlier this year, a self-released project that subsequently went viral, it's been no secret that Drake is a big fan of the enigmatic R&B crooner and fellow Toronto native. In a recent interview with Billboard, the rising hip-hop star wasn't shy about how he has been influenced by his new friend and collaborator, who he says appears frequently on his highly anticipated sophomore album Take Care.
"He's one of the greatest artists I've ever heard," Drake said while backstage at his annual OVO Festival, where The Weeknd was a featured performer. "He's on my album a lot. We really collaborated a lot on this album."
Drake said his friendship with the breakout R&B talent has inspired him to become a better singer and songwriter.
“Not only did he inspire me to get out there and sing better onstage, but he inspired me writing-wise, music-wise, just to better my product," he said.
The "Marvin's Room" singer said he and The Weeknd have grown close because of a mutual respect.
"To hear someone else with an incredible body of work, it's very rare. It's very inspiring.... I'm proud of him. He works really hard. He's just an incredible person, [and has] become a really close friend to me."
Drake and The Weeknd's respective crews have begun collaborating under the banner OVOXO, which is a combination of Drake's October's Very Own and The Weeknd's XO organization.
Take Care is due in stores this October. The official single, "Headlines," was recently released to iTunes.
(Photos from left: Larry Busacca/Getty Images, Clinton Gilders/FilmMagic)