No one expected we would get a new Drake album this weekend, and even if we could have foreseen it, no one could have expected that this was the Drake album we would get. Aubrey Graham’s seventh studio album Honestly, Nevermind represents what is almost certainly the Canadian rapper’s most significant departure of his career, taking a self-conscious step back from from the unmistakable hip-hop idiom he developed as far back as Comeback Season to produce an LP that’s airier, smoother, and more open-ended than anything he’s done before.
Of course, one thing hasn’t changed: Drake is still a dyed-in-the-wool Canadian, and this album still has the classic Canadian touch. There are some of the usual Toronto references here and there—he nods to the 6 on “Jimmy Cooks,” features Tristan Thompson in the video for “Falling Back,” and elsewhere shouts out Toronto neighbourhood Galloway Road (“You know I gotta bring the G-block”)—but the record’s most prominent reference is to La Belle Province. On album highlight “Sticky,” Drizzy raps:
“Ayy, two sprinters to Quebec/ Cherie, ou est mon bec?”
Canadian fans were understandably surprised and excited to hear Drake make such an overt reference to the province, especially as Grand Prix weekend rolled through Montreal.
The shout-out to Canada’s French-language province is followed by a French bar, which roughly translates to “Honey, where’s my kiss?” This isn’t the first time Drake has shown off his bilingualism, of course. On last year’s DJ Khaled-led track “Greece,” he smoothly rapped, “Full speed, je suis ton genie,” which means “I am your genie.” But that line had a more Parisian French flavour, where as on “Sticky,” Drake is going full-blown Quebecois. The usage of “bec” to mean kiss is specific to Quebec French, which shows that Drake understands some of the nuances of the distinctions.
The language is clearly important to Drake. Earlier this year, he posted a video on Instagram of him practising a bit of French with his young son Adonis, making it apparent that he is happy with the family growing up bilingual. (Sophie Brussaux, Adonis’s mother, is originally from France.) He’s evidently got a thing for French women generally—this past March, he posted a video of himself jet-skiing and hanging out with a mystery women in the ocean, describing her in a caption as “some sweet Quebec white ting.”
As Drake continues his ongoing love affair with the French language and the Quebecois people, we can be sure to see more references like these pop up in his music going forward.