Music

Drake Says He Helped Popularize ‘Afrobeats’ In North America, Sparking A Fierce Debate Among Fans

Drake’s Rap Radar Podcast interview has sparked another furious debate. Initially, fans keyed in on his comments about his battle with Pusha T, because if there’s anything rap fans love, it’s conflict. However, another portion of the interview is causing consternation after he credited his song “One Dance” with exposing American audiences to the sound preeminently known as Afrobeats.

Responding to a question about his reputation as “culture vulture,” Drake said, “I’m not one of those people who gets inspired by something and [mimics snatching something with his hands] ‘Oh, that was inspiring, thanks…’ ‘One Dance’ goes No. 1 and all of a sudden, it’s Afro-inspired, but… Wizkid was on the song with me and I had blessings from the real dons in that space. I know those guys…. The chatter is one thing, but in the community, I’m solidified.”

He also addressed the definition of “cultural appropriation,” which he’s been accused of in the past. “The definition of appropriating a culture is not supporting that culture, doing songs with people who are deeply rooted in that culture, giving opportunity to people who are in that culture,” he explained. “That’s not appropriating. Appropriating is taking it for your own personal gain and denying that it was ever inspired from this.”

That didn’t stop some Afrobeats — or Afropop as it’s sometimes known — from asserting that Drake had no effect on popularizing the genre. “Drake deserves no credit for popularising Afrobeats,” wrote one fan. “Most people don’t consider ‘One Dance’ Afrobeats and these times all Wizkid did on the song was whisper.”

Another commenter asked, “Would you say One Dance is afrobeats? Cause I don’t hear it. I always got more dancehall vibes from it.”

However, he had his defenders as well. One wrote, “You guys misconstrue his words a lot. He said nothing is better than Afrobeats. He’s the biggest artist in the world, of course he aided to pushing Afrobeats to the world by working with one of the biggest african artist there is. He’s not saying he’s the main reason it’s big.”

Another explained the beneficial properties of the so-called “Drake effect” that comes with the Canadian star sharing his platform. “Drake featuring an afrobeats artist on his track, even if it’s not an afrobeats track, will bring more attention to that artist and have people go and check for them,” they wrote. “That is still helping and contributing.”

It wasn’t the first time fans fought over Drake’s tendency to try out new sounds. Earlier this week, his new song “War” sparked an intense debate about the influence of British genres like grime and drill on his style. Drake’s influence is undeniable, wherever an observer’s stance falls on the spectrum, but it’s clear that everything he does will remain polarizing and divisive among fans thanks to his unique vantage at the center of pop culture. Check out the full Rap Radar interview here.

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