Over the past few years, Drake has been the centre of many conversations about properly crediting the people that help make his music. Whether it was last summer, when Meek Mill notoriously called him out for leaning a little too heavily on his ghostwriters during the recording of If You're Reading This It's Too Late, the "vulture" accusations about the young rappers he co-signs, or Drake's more recent tendency to jack peoples art straight from their Instagram pages, the Toronto superstar seems to be riding a thin line between drawing influence and straight biting.
Now, after the release of his fourth studio album, Views, the accusations against Drake are taking on shades of cultural appopriation. Mr. Vegas, a popular dancehall artist from Jamaica, has been making noise in the press for the past few days in attempt to draw attention to Drake's use of dancehall and afrobeat influences on his latest album. According to Vegas, Drake isn't helping the dancehall community with his incorporation of the genre so much as running with a sound that's hot without paying proper respect to the people who he got it from.
First, Vegas posted the following videos to his Facebook page:
"I'm letting you know that Drake did not do us a favour by using 40-50% dancehall on his album. Drake the fake is just running with the hot genre right now," Vegas said confidently. "Drake, maybe Meek Mill was right, you know? Maybe you're fake."
A few days later, he spoke over the phone with Hot 97, expressing his frustration with the lack of proper credit given to the dancehall artists featured on Views. Specifically, Mr. Vegas spoke about Popcaan and Beenie Man, who were both sampled on the album but didn't have their names listed as featured artists.
Like Rosenberg said in the interview above, it certainly must be frustrating to have someone like Drake riding the top of the charts with your sound while the original dancehall artists struggle to break into any North American market outside of New York and Miami. To see an artist like Popcaan featured on the Views track "Controlla" must have certainly been exciting for fans of the genre, and I can only imagine that hearing him reduced to a sample alongside Beenie Man would be frustrating.
But though Popcaan and Beenie Man didn't get a proper feature, does that mean that they aren't being exposed? Beenie Man literally yells "Beenie Man from Jamaica!" on "Controlla." Tons of people heard, and still listen to, the original version that features Popcaan. Their fingerprints are all over the tracks, even if their name isn't in the track list. And when it comes to his other global sounds, Wizkid, a Nigerian artist who heavily influenced the summer side of Views, certainly got a boost from his feature credit on "One Dance."
I'm sure that this is only the beginning of the discussion. Maybe the gap between the North American mainstream and the dancehall scene is narrowing and it's only a matter of time before there's a Jamaican airwave invasion. Or, maybe Drake is being unethical about this, claiming the credit for culture he borrowed. I ain't got the answers Sway.