As we’re sure you’ve seen already, Drake went straight from performing at The Brits at The O2 Arena with Rihanna to jumping on stage at Village Underground in Shoreditch with Section Boyz – where he later announced on Instagram that he had signed to Skepta & JME’s BBK label. The unlikely appearance continues the ongoing love Drake has shown some of the UK’s burgeoning talent. Nonetheless, even up to now many UK commentators and fans are still dubious of Drake’s affinity with UK artists and culture.
The inquest into Drake’s appreciation for British artists stems from his once thriving relationship with Sneakbo who when emerging on the scene in 2011 – with his remix of Vybz Kartel’s “Touch Ah Button” – received mainstream attention including the Six God’s. Since then, Drake’s seemingly love for UK’s various artists, culture and sports has been taken with a pinch of salt from fans with many deeming the Toronto native to be “begging”. Last year his UK love reached its peak with his growing relationship with Skepta that resulted in the pair collaborating on Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba”, performing at Wireless festival together and even to the extent where Drake got a tattoo of BBK. Drizzy’s announcement that he had signed to the BBK label has resulted in a storm of confusion on social media with many commenting on Drake’s motive for signing to a label that’s far less established to his own and paternal label, Cash Money Records. Many feel it could be a publicity stunt, others feel it’s taking his “begness” to a new level. I for one feel it’s a great acquisition for BBK and, more importantly, a landmark moment for UK urban music and culture as a whole.
In Amsterdam on a jet ski wave…word to Sneaky
— Drizzy (@Drake) December 8, 2011
Drake’s appreciation for UK music isn’t a form of begging – Drake has a genuine love for the music that has been made in these Isles and has shown this in various instances before and after he made it recently known. As far back as 2007 on his second mixtape The Comeback Season Drake referenced a number of UK urban artists that he’s influenced by including Shola Ama Craig David and Artful Dodger – he even referenced Ruud van Nistelrooy (for those who thought his constant footballer name droppings were forced) – he’s always had an interest in our music and our culture. If you readily tune into his OVO Sound radio shows on Beats 1 his mixes often include tracks from a breadth of UK artists such as Wstrn, Section Boyz, Giggs, Nines and so forth – he’s a fan of our music which is something that we should be dignified at as the world’s biggest artist loves our music.
It’s also important to reference how similar Toronto culture is to London – Toronto is a highly diverse city that’s a cultural melting pot who in turn have developed their unique slang, style and music like how London has. A huge influence of Jamaican and African culture in Toronto has had a profound effect on Drake’s own music and vernacular – which is similar to ours but has been often misconstrued as him begging or assimilating our culture. This too explains why Drake is a huge fan of bashment and dancehall and even Afrobeats – hence the “Ojuelegba” link up and various bashment references. We shouldn’t be dubious of Drake’s alleged deal with BBK but look at it as more exposure for UK music and hope for our bigger brothers in the US to take more notice of the array of talent and quality musicians we have here. The fact that Drake chose to jump on stage with a road rap group from Croydon in Shoreditch rather than attend The Brits’ afterparty should be celebrated rather than queried. Let’s hope for a Drizzy x Section Boyz track in the near future.