Drake has made his way across the pond a number of times over the last few years.
In the past, he’s endorsed Skepta’s Boy Better Know and tapped a handful of UK grime and drill artists and producers for his 2017 album More Life. Drizzy's most recent endeavor is his single “War,” which features a drill beat by producer AXL Beats. Yet while Drake has highlighted the genres, some have labeled him as a cultural appropriator for his use of sounds and slang terms from other places.
However, British artist Stormzy doesn’t agree. In a new interview with Charlamagne tha God, Stormzy said Drake is to thank for spotlighting grime and drill, even if genre purists don’t see it that way.
“I think it helps because, bruv, Drake is undeniably a fucking massive, gargantuan artist, and an incredible artist as well,” he said. “So having a big, incredible artist pay homage or pay recognition to a style or genre is undeniably a good thing, a positive.”
Stormzy continued, “It’s the classic thing of, you know when like a small genre gets a massive cosign. The undeniability of it is of course, that brings exposure and that brings a light to a situation,” he said. “Listen, what Drake has done in terms of getting eyes locked on our culture, that’s a massive light onto what we do. You can’t deny that. But with that comes its natural negatives…you get your purists who are never gonna like the idea of a massive artist getting involved with a niche thing.”
Drake addressed the allegations of cultural appropriation in a recent interview with the Rap Radar podcast, saying that the controversial concept doesn’t fit his own behavior.
“Even the definition of ‘appropriating’ a culture is not supporting that culture, doing songs with people deeply rooted in that culture, giving opportunity to people in that culture,” Drake said. “That’s not appropriating. Appropriating is taking it for your own personal gain and denying that it was ever inspired from this. That’s the true disservice that somebody could do to the UK, to dancehall, to Afrobeats. Any time I embark on one of those journeys, I ensure that I am not only paying all due respects verbally. I make a point to give opportunity to people that I respect.”
Grime artist Wiley has been one of Drake’s biggest detractors, calling Drake a culture vulture—and oddly enough, Wiley and Stormzy have also been clashing as of late. Though Drake hasn’t linked with Stormzy, he has worked with UK emcees such as Skepta, Dave, and Gigs, and producers like AXL Beats and Nana Rogues.