News 26 October 2016
Author: Sam

Real Ting: Understanding Drake’s UK love

Author Sam
26 October 2016

If you haven’t noticed, Drizzy Drake loves him some UK rap and grime.

That infamous BBK deal and tat, leaving the Brits with RiRi to jump on stage at a Section Boyz show, getting involved in Top Boy, sampling Crazy Cousinz on “One Dance”, the list goes on.

And now this.  In perhaps his biggest show of transatlantic fandom yet, Champagne Papi peppered his OVO Sound Radio show on Monday night with UK banger after banger, and even jumped on a Dave remix, sending the grimosphere appropriately mad. Check that here.

It is only right, therefore, that we break down some of the more likely reasons that Champagne Papi has so much UK love.

Love for the co-sign

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Firstly, Drake understands the power of the co-sign more than most. It was the moment Lil Wayne interrupted his haircut that Toronto went from small town fame to the major leagues. Perhaps owing to his own history, then, Drake has lent his shine to other artists. In the UK, it was originally Sneakbo, but more recently the BBK crew and Skepta in particular.

Views from the outside

In his interview with Zane Lowe, Skepta stated that Drake’s UK connection came from the fact he related to artists trying to blow from outside of rap’s traditional centres (LA, NYC, ATL yada yada). Coming out of Toronto, Drake knows the challenges of coming from a place that is marginalized by the mainstream (in “One Dance” he croons “Nobody makes it from my ends”), and so has helped his UK brothers to overcome this.

The Toronto-London connection

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Next, there are some similarities in Toronto and London’s culture that may explain Drake’s sense of connection. I won’t bore you with the details, but the Afro-Caribbean communities of both cities landed later than in the States, leading to similarities in culture, language and accent (listen to the interlude before Toronto crooner Tory Lanez’s “Say It” for proof). In fact, Drake himself sounds a bit London on his “R.I.C.O.” verse, rapping “dem mans is some wastemans”. Americans often say they find it difficult to listen to grime and UK rap because of the accent, so these similarities may explain why Drizzy is much warmer to it.

The hood factor

Grime has a raw and under-produced sound, and as it is not the multi-million dollar industry that rap is in America, it feels more road. Drake was initially drawn to Jet-Ski-waver Sneakbo through a London Gangs documentary and responded to the fact he had his “hoody on, glasses” and “was with his boys.” He also told Westwood that the accent makes it sound like Londoners “want to shoot you in your face.” This explains why Drake’s references to grime artists is regularly followed by “bruv“, “brudda” or “ting“. Since dropping “Started From The Bottom”, Drake has presented a tougher aesthetic, so it is fitting that his shift in image has run alongside his UK fandom.

New sound

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Drake and in-house producer Noah “40” Shebib have made a name out of creating a sound that is interesting and fresh on each of their projects. They take risks and artistic choices that are unique and in doing so have created a distinctive brand. While grime has now been around for a while as a genre, the sound still feels fresh, and markedly different from US hip-hop, marking another reason why Drake may have so much love for all things UK.

So there you have it, five speculative (and yet surefire) reasons that Drizzy is repping the scene.