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A Brief History of Drake’s Nigerian & Somali Influences

With 'VIEWS' in mind, we revisit some moments when Drake was influenced by artists and sounds from Nigeria, Somalia and their diasporas.

Drake's VIEWS album cover.


As you've heard by now, Drake has dropped his new 20-song album 'VIEWS.' It features contributions from WizkidRihannaFutureNoah “40” Shebib, Boi-1da, and many more. With 'VIEWS' in mind, we revisit some moments when Drake was influenced by artists and sounds from Nigeria, Somalia and their diasporas. 

Somali Connection

As a proud Torontonian, Drake’s currently (and sometimes controversially) been soaking up many cultural flavors from the city’s hugely diverse population. On songs and social media posts, the rapper’s been known flip in and out of a what sounds like a Jamaican patois accent, which is really representative of a new hybrid Toronto slang. Past Okayafrica contributor Safy-Hallan Farah explains it best:

Largely second-generation Canadians, these new artists from “the 6” showcase their various black identities within their music, exhibiting a certain cultural fluency and familiarity. Somali kids reflexively slip in and out of Jamaican Patois; everyone says “walahi,” a Somali corruption of the Arabic word walah; even Egyptian-Canadian artist Ramriddlz claims he’s “no saqajaan” (a saqajaan is the Somali equivalent of a scumbag). Black Toronto slang is a living, breathing reflection of the city’s vibrant diasporic community. (MTV)

Drake raps lines like “Know some Somalis that say we got it Wallahi” in “Draft Day.” The young Somali-Canadian rapper Top5 has gotten Instagram nods and is now shouted out on VIEWS' "Grammys" (see below)—"Hall of fame, like I'm shirt off shawty... Top5 no debating, Top5 Top5 Top5." The Somali-rooted Future the Prince has also been in Drake's team for some time as his official DJ and one-time manager.

Got The City Going Crazy #top5top5top5 @champagnepapi #Views

A video posted by Top5 (@hassan_top5) on

It hasn’t all been positive though, as some of the scene’s rappers have accused Drake of stealing from them. Most notably, Mo-G—who actually gets a shout out on “Summer Sixteen—has accused Drake of taking inspiration from his rhymes and dance moves without remuneration. 

Boy Better Know

Drake is a known fan of British grime collective Boy Better Know (BBK) and its co-founders, the British-born Nigerian-rooted brothers Skepta and JME. Drake and Skepta’s relationship has been well documented: Drake thanked Skepta in the liner notes of his 2015 mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, he’s Instagrammed plenty of pictures of him big-upping BBK, his Vine recording of "Trusss Me Daddi" introduces Skepta’s “Shut Down,” he brought Skepta onstage at London Wireless, got a BBK tattoo to show his love and, since then, he’s proclaimed himself to be “the first Canadian signed to BBK.”

The first Canadian signed to BBK. Big up my brudda @skeptagram for life yeah. And my section gunners too. ?? A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

Nigeria Calling

It was Skepta who reportedly first played Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba” for Drake. As we’re all aware, that meeting resulted in a monster remix of the Nigerian star’s hit, which catapulted Wizkid into mainstream American and European air waves last summer.

Recently, Wizkid was featured on “One Dance,” one of the lead singles from VIEWS which has recently topped the Canadian, UK and iTunes worldwide charts. The single experiments with the ‘afrobeats’ sounds Drake explored back when he remixed “Ojuelegba,” as well as the Caribbean textures of his Rihanna collaboration “Work.” It samples samples a UK funky remix of Filipino R&B singer Kyla‘s “Do You Mind.”

Wizkid's part in that song is admittedly pretty minimal as he's only heard as a fuzzed-out refrain some of the song's bridges—something that Nigerian twitter would never let go unnoticed.

Take Care

Back in late 2011, a month after the release of his sophomore album Take Care, Drake alluded to British-Nigerian rapper Sneakbo’s “Jetski Wave” mixtape and overall motto. The Canadian MC also revealed, in an online interview, that he was watching a youtube documentary on London gangs while taking a break in the studio when he got hooked on Sneakbo “rapping over dancehall beats.” Fast forward to 2014 and Drake was still feeling Sneakbo’s tunes.

MY NIGGA DRAKE SHOWING LOVE....????? #OvO 1DAY!

A photo posted by South London, Brixton ? (@sneakbo1) on

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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