When I’m passionate about a topic, I usually spend weeks on the research. I piece together interview clips, long-forgotten news updates, lyrics, and other shit that’s been taken for granted, and create an image of a subject from an angle you’ve never considered. Any of my ‘Understanding Kanye West Rants‘ pieces or this analysis of Future’s songwriting are just several examples of this.
However, sometimes, I need to rant at you. I need you to simply acknowledge what I am pointing out. And instead of writing like I’m mounting an argument to win a court case, sometimes, I just want to open up a discussion. I want you to clap back. This is what the ‘A Thought’ series will be about.
When Drake appeared on YG’s ‘Who Do You Love?’ in 2014, YG revealed in a Breakfast Club interview that Drake had eyed him as a rising star and made trips to visit him in LA since 2010. Years before the heavy Caribbean influences on Views and More Life, Drake was taking trips to Jamaica to forge a strong relationship with Popcaan and his Unruly gang. He was also shouting out the Gs from the ends on If You’re Reading This and making music with Skepta prior to blessing him and Giggs with several features on More Life.
In a world so interconnected, I fail to understand why the affiliations Drake has made during his musical career receive the level of criticism that they do. Amongst a psychographic of people that claim to care about being inclusive, and claim to be open to engaging people of other cultural backgrounds, why are Drake’s attempts at doing so always shit on?
Is it because they seem disingenuous? Is it because people feel as though his profit off of this cultural exchange is disproportionate to what his collaborators are getting? Is it because people don’t want to see an artist at the top of the music industry innovate off the backs of other people’s sounds?
I really want to know. To scream “cultural appropriation” as someone who isn’t of an Afro-Caribbean identity when you hear ‘Controlla’ or when you see Drake tweet in patois is funny. It’s especially funny when you notice that Afro-Caribbeans of Canada and the United States have shown no strong signs of frustration with the direction of Drake’s music.
It’s funny to see people upset at Drake’s borrowing of verbiage from subcultures in hip-hop when the gatekeepers of said subculture actually approve. Like the claim that Drake is a scumbag H-Town wannabe when he’s had Bun B’s blessing since his So Far Gone days. Or the claim he’s jacking the Grime wave when someone like Skepta, who is rightfully chasing entrance into the American mainstream, has nothing but love for him.
I think what upsets a lot of people about Drake’s globetrotting is a few things: 1. Your rigid expectations of a popular artist once they’re popular. 2. Your limited understanding of cultural exchange and identity. 3. As a young adult in the 21st century, it pisses you off to see someone who has just as much access to other cultures do so much more with it than you. You can speak in convincing patois! You have family in Houston! Why does this fucker get to make millions off of knowing how to pick up other people’s swag and I don’t?
Am I right? Am I a dickrider? Are you upset that I called your understanding of cultural exchange and identity “limited”? I’m sorry. If you want to get back at me, leave a comment. I promise I’ll respond and let you rant at me.