Drake is an artist of many genres, and with that comes many accents, apparently. Whether he’s doing an interview or recording in the booth, Drake has become notorious for changing his vernacular, imitating different cultures and people from around the world. Over the course of his career, he’s consistently switched genres, bringing grime and afro-beats to the U.S. rap mainstream, which we can admire. Throughout his constant link ups, he’s never failed to remind us that his Degrassi days are far from behind him, creating a new accent with nearly every new release and style.
People laughably took note at first, but are now starting to add question marks to the end of these songs and albums, asking why Drake is switching it up so much. Months ago, in an interview with BBC’s 1Xtra Rap Show, Drake attempted to explain why his accent has changed so many times claiming that when he first entered the music industry, he felt the need to sound “American.” Now that his success is undeniable, he no longer feels the need to mask his accent. Well, at this point it’s unclear as to what Drake’s real accent is. So in an attempt to find out which Drake accent is the most authentic, or better yet which one is next, let’s look back at the many accents we’ve heard so far.
Drake and his dad accept an award at 2017 BMAs – Ethan Miller/Getty Images
A Southern accent is not something that can easily be mimicked and mastered. You either have it from living deep in the depths of the south, or from being around people who once did. When it comes to Drake though, his relationship with the south has been made clear ever since he stepped into the rap game. Drake’s father Dennis lived in Memphis while he was growing up, first introducing him to a flavor of the south that would later inspire adult Drake to spend time in Houston and Atlanta to get his career off the ground. Now we can fast forward to 2008, where Drake popped up on the radar of Lil Wayne. Drizzy spent some time with his soon-to-be rap mentor in Houston, inspiring the creation of So Far Gone. After feeling his full potential, Drake used that time to also introduce us to his southern accent. In “Uptown” featuring Bun B and Lil Wayne, Drake slides onto the organ-based trap beat like its a screw tape, dragging the second half of his words like his predecessors likely taught him. Just a year later, Drake would go on to release his debut album Thank Me Later where he not only paid homage to Weezy by rapping about his appreciation for getting signed, but using his southern twang on “Fancy” and later even easing it in on “Miss Me.”
Reference: “Fancy” ft. T.I. & Swizz Beatz
Drake and Preme in the club together – Prince Williams/Wireimage/Getty Images
Drake’s Toronto accent surfaced during the fourth quarter of 2014 in the intro of Preme’s “DnF” music video. In the midst of Drizzy and his artist casually celebrating yet another success story, the shock value was based in Drake’s emerging Canadian annunciation. Of course, Drake is from Canada. But hearing this seemingly new accent posed the question of why he waited nearly five years in the game to bring it out. Right before the release of If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, people started to look at Drake even more sideways. His music was taking exciting new twists and turns, going from “soft” Drake to “hard” Drake, and as was his dialect. Before the surprise drop of the tape, Drake released a short film called JUNGLE. The14-minute movie shows Drake roaming through Toronto, embedded with a number of flashbacks that show Drake’s early days. At the 12 second mark, Drake pump fakes with the typical American accent but in the change of a scene, literally sounds like he’s right back home. Drake’s new accent was used to simply pay homage to the city that birthed him, rightfully so. As he said in “Know Yourself,” he’s been running through the 6 with his woes, so should we have really been surprised?
Reference: “DnF” by Preme, ft. Drake & Future
Drake and Rihanna at the 2016 BRIT Awards -Ian Gavan/Getty Images
The 6 God’s love for Rihanna has been apparent since they first linked up on “What’s My Name” in 2010, but it seems like she rubbed some culture off on Drake in addition to the feelings. Their second collab “Take Care” has Rihanna written all over the outro, but that was just the beginning. At the top of 2016, the former couple linked once more for “Work” (their greatest song to this date), giving Drake the confidence to fully go forward with his Caribbean accent. When Views came out a few months later, you would’ve thought Drake was straight from the islands considering the execution in tracks like “Controlla,” (where, in the original version, he enlisted dancehall singer Popcaan), and “One Dance.” Aside from his infatuation with Rihanna, who he also had on “Too Good,” Drake’s Caribbean accent is perhaps more genuine than fans might think. For this fact, let’s take it back to his homeland Toronto. In 2001 when Drake was growing up, it was reported that 71% of Toronto’s population consisted of people that had Jamacian origins. Drake first lived on the west side of Toronto, later relocated to central Toronto, and filmed Degrassi on the east side of the city; spanning three areas that all had heavy Jamacian influence. 2016 became the year where Drake channeled into that Jamarcian influence, so he added some patios to his bars and kept that same energy for his next project More Life.
Reference: “One Dance” ft. Wizkid & Kyla
United Kingdom Accent
Drake and Giggs at London’s Reading Festival 2017 – C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images
2017 marked the year where Drake forcibly aligned himself with the United Kingdom, but his fascination with the demographic stems back to his love for Top Boy. Since 2011 when the show premiered, Drake has consistently expressed that he’s been a super fan of the crime-oriented drama series. (So much even that five years later, he played an essential role in the show’s return.) Aside from TV though, he expressed his idolization for three prominent U.K. artists: Sampha, Skepta, and Wiley before deciding to take a stab at creating his own London sounds in a whole playlist-styled album. Drake’s album More Life was backed by the genre grime, a version of electronic dance music that found its life in London. To do so properly, he recruited a well-known London artist by the name of Giggs on “KMT” and “No Longer Talk,” Jorja Smith on “Get It Together,” and Sampha again on “4422” while simultaneously breaking into character himself. In what came out to be an obvious interpolation of London culture, More Life further demonstrated the depth of Drake’s fascination with the city. He was arguably making the best music of his career in terms of versatility, but his London accent did sound a little shaky. On the one hand, you couldn’t deny was the fact that he was using his elevated platform to put on artists from all across the world. On the other, Drake’s London accent seemed like a live recreation of a scene he watched in Top Boy. For the next year or so, each time Drake hopped in the booth whether that be on a serious tip or to freestyle, he spoke as if he was giving a speech at the British Academy Awards.
Reference: “Behind Barz” freestyle
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
From the birth of his Instagram handle “Champagne Papi” to his feature on Romeo Santos’ “Odios,” Drake has been eager to bust out his apparent latin origins. His first stride came with the instant success of “Hotline Bling,” bolstered on a Cha Cha-centered beat. That track alone was enough for Drake to see some value in trying his next flavor, but it wasn’t until the rather recent rises of Bad Bunny and J Balvin that he fully went in. He’s marinated over the sound for years, but didn’t welcome it wholly until his verse on Bad Bunny’s “Mia” in 2018. Drake delivers his entire verse in Spanish, striking up frustration from social media but in the same token, extending his history of always being present on the next wave. Just a year later, although he avoided the accent which he put on full display in “Mia,” he punched in a verse on “Ela é do Tipo,” a Brazilian-bred track by MC Kevin o Chris. Frankly, we don’t know if Drake will continue to embrace the Spanish wave. However one thing we do know is that he’s mastered the art of making hits. Regardless of the many accents, as fans we’ve learned to never question the quality, but rather ask ourselves this: which Drake accent will we get next?
Reference: “Mia” by Bad Bunny, featuring Drake
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