Of all the numerous hilarious and pernicious tropes that surround hip-hop, the most persistent are the ones about Drake. The Canadian rapper is a magnet for attention, which also makes him a magnet for as much criticism and ridicule as praise and critical acclaim.
And, of all the various memes and inescapable cultural moments Drake has been a part of, the one that’s cropped up the most lately — aside from his “hiding a child,” perhaps — is the critique that he is a “culture vulture,” the male, rap form of Miley Cyrus or Iggy Azalea, borrowing from subcultures and underground movements he can’t really claim to be a part of.
Some of the latest accusations have come from one of his most recent objects of fascination, the British grime community, by way of grime godfather Wiley, who may or may not be needling Drake mainly as a roundabout way of goading his own longtime rival in the scene, Skepta, who happens to be one of Drake’s closest collaborators within it.
Drake, who is notoriously taciturn about the various criticisms against him — again, with a big exception for the whole “secret child” in France thing — finally made it a point to address this latest imputation on the radio while in Britain on his Assassination Nation tour, calling the accusation “goofy sh*t” and prompting an even more incredulous response from Wiley.
It’s all very entertaining, but it begs the question: What, exactly, makes Drake such a culture vulture? The majority of the jokes leveled at him generally find their origin in something unusual or noteworthy he did and its relative proximity to hip-hop’s established tenets of “cool,” but culture vulture implies something in some ways more sinister.
So why does Drake fall into this category, and is it fair? The answer, as usual, is a lot more complicated than will fit into a pithy tweet.