How bad does Drake want to be British?

How bad does Drake want to be British?

by Ollie Cox
5 min

Tech Fleeces From the Six? Yeah, we were confused too. If you’d lived without the internet for 10 years, you’d be excused for thinking Drake was from Tottenham not Toronto thanks to his Skepta link-ups, love of Stoney and use of British slang (how could we forget Drake’s trussss me daddy intro to ‘Shut Down’?)

@champagnepapi ©

J Hus, the East London-born hip-hop artist behind UK rap hits such as ‘Bouff Daddy’ has linked up with Drake for his latest single, ‘Who Told You’. With many calling it the song of the summer, the Stratford rapper can be heard sharing the pleasure of dancing, no matter how tough you are. Shortly into the infectious fusion of Afro Swing and UK Hip-Hop, the familiar tones of Canadian MC Drake can be heard. Champagnepapi reaches deep into his pocketbook of British slang, spitting bars familiar to the British ear. 

On The Radar Radio ©

“Touch road with the girls dem and socialise / Enjoy your backside is so fit it opens eyes”. Does Drake using the female equivalent of man dem make him a culture vulture, or is there more to it? Drake’s love of the UK stems from the 2010s when the rapper watched Chelsea, dined at The Wolseley and even bought first editions of Winnie the Pooh. Hey, you would if you could, don’t lie.

@grmdaily ©

Alongside tokenistic tick-boxes of supposed Britishness, the Canadian rapper appears to have left a deeper mark on British culture than first thought. While watching the footie in a pink Stoney and later showcasing a $100,000 Stone Island Pendant feels like a poor attempt at British cosplay, he has won over the opinions that matter. 

In October 2015, Drake revealed a BBK tattoo to the world, leaving many scratching their heads. How has a Canadian rapper been signed to a British Grime label? In the caption, he announced he was the newest addition to the label and shared some insight onto the signing: “More than music. OVO BBK family for life.” 

@champagnepapi ©

US hip-hop has informed the syntax heard in grime for years, but Drake’s love of the UK genre and use of typically British phrases highlights the prominence of grime on the world stage and its impact on other forms of music. UK hip-hop DJ Charlie Sloth feels that Drake’s nods to UK culture are done authentically. Speaking to The Guardian, the DJ explained: “That’s how he talks – when you’re out with him … he’s saying ‘me and the mandem’. It’s not an act. It’s not Drake trying to fit in.”

Drake’s melodic fusion of R&B and North American hip-hop appears at first to be in stark contrast to the energising kineticism of grime. Boy Better Know, the record label founded by Skepta and his brother JME in 2005, was set up following the disbandment of the Meridian Crew (a legendary grime collective from the Meridian estate in Tottenham). For Drake to be accepted by a record label set up as a f**k you to the corporate heads in the music industry has done bits for the ‘Controlla’ star’s British street cred. 

@champagnepapi ©

Drake has extended his love of British culture beyond music and into fashion. The latest Nocta drop speaks to a British uniform seen across the country. Introduced in 2013, the Nike Tech Fleece derived from Nike track tops and hoodies, updated with streamlined performance features. Drake’s label gives the iconic sportswear a baby blue makeover, first previewed by his crew. To some, the prospect of releasing a tracksuit in the height of British summertime may seem a little off. However, those that know keep the tech fleece on all year round. 

With a new album set to drop next week, we can expect to hear more UK slang from Drizzy.

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