“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Oscar Wilde
We all know Drake is lover of wide array of different cultures, but how far is too far? (asking for a friend)
It appears that Drizzy is back at again with the cultural experimentation.
If the title hasn’t already given it away, I am talking about Drake’s recent feature on Bad Bunny’s new song MIA.
The Brit’s will understand the cultural reference I am making with the title. Two words – Jerk Rice.
I know I know I can feel your eye rolls already. While you exhale in annoyance allow me to break it down my analogy for our friends over seas. Put simply Jamie has been wreaking havoc on social media as a result his mildly offensive cultural appropriation within the food industry.
Should you wish to burden your souls with the sordid details of that flavour fail, the Washington Post summed it up pretty well.
If there is one thing the backlash from this situation has taught us m, its that there’s a fine line beteeen appreciation and appropriation.
Enter Drake stage left.
Probably tired of rap beefs and talking about Pusha but not quite ready to give us cuffing season jams, Drake, like the majority of us in the UK is clinging on to summer vibes for dear life with this Latin classic.
I am by no means an expert but his Spanish sounded pretty good to me.
With that being said I can’t help but wonder whether Drake is simply sliding his way through different cultures in a bid to make a quick dollar or if there is any true appreciation for the sounds he’s exploring.
Genuine love or unchecked habitual behaviour?
I’m sure we all remember what has been described as his dancehall epidemic, which at one point had me convinced he wanted to be an honourary citizen of Jamaica.
But let’s hit pause for a second and think about this logically.
Drake is a Toronto native.
Many Caribbeans have have migrated to Canada over the last few decades so it is highly possible that the rapper was surrounded by Caribbean influences during his formative years and this has undoubtedly seeped into his music. This would have only been further reinforced by greats he grew up listening to such as Lauryn Hill and the Fugees.
I suppose, the coining of a few Caribbean phrases and some Reggie infused/ dancehall inspired tracks get a pass. And even though his patois is quite frankly abysmal we can let that slide too, as his love for the island flavour is at the very least an authentic collateral consequence of his upbringing.
But what about his brief stint with UK music.
I say brief, but honestly this has been going on for a number of years now, with my earliest memories of it being a tweet from drizzy mentioning sneakbo back in 2014 (exactly that far back).
I think the rationale behind this was perhaps best explained by Chuckie Online on his podcast, of which you all know I’m a huge fan.
With London having huge cultural similarities to Toronto as a result of the migration of Caribbean’s to the UK, it is likely to feel like a home away from home. If this is infact the case his affinity to the UK and subsequent support of a lot of our artists including Jorja Smith and Sneakbo, hardly comes as a surprise.
Drakes recent behind barz shows him going as far as paying homage to some of our more prominent sounds, with a clear drill influence making an appearance with his flow. Seeing him use British slang almost as some kind of badge of honour.
In doing so he’s opened up a whole new audience to UK music, so again my complaints here are very minimal.
It doesn’t seem outside of the realm of possibility that what has flippantly been labelled as a matter of appropriation is actually an example of acculturation.
A recent article on Blavity broke this down very well. But in essence Acculturation is the inevitable cultural exchange that occurs when different people groups meet; specifically the way cultures influence and adopt elements of each other.
So the UK and Afro-Caribbean Culture influences have a perfectly logical and seemingly genuine explanation but what about this new connection to Latin American music?
Unpopular opinion: I think it may be time to cut drake some slack. He sang/rapped his entire verse in a different language, what more could you possibly have asked for?
In all honesty I think what Drake has done here simply exhibits creativity and versatility.
Perhaps I would be more inclined to be upset if Drake didn’t execute this so well.
The numbers really don’t lie. Drake & Bad Bunny’s “MIA” is reportedly the First Number 1 Spanish Song On Apple Music US Top Songs.
The fact of the matter is that like it or hate it, Drake is bringing spanish music to the masses.
I wouldn’t dare to speak on behalf of the Spanish Community, so if any of you guys want to contribute to the conversation feel free to tweet us @industrymee.
My verdict? Drake is simply a versatile artist with a great musical ear that will continue to be inspired by many cultures and create music that reflects this.