It’s amazing to me the things that you can find on Google, the plethora of images that show up just based on a simple search. Well ,I did just that because I was curious what would come up when “Cultural Appropriation” was put in my search engine.
I was very amused to find that I wasn’t the least bit shocked by these images or the “related searches”, with names like Kylie Jenner, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry. It seems to be so easy to call out these non- people of color for “appropriating” different cultures especially when it feels as though their profits are only high because they are using a culture that is not theirs.
Many have tried to defend cultural appropriation as a cultural exchange. But is it really the same thing? Cultural appropriation is the grafting and adaptation of a culture that you are not apart of and adding it to your everyday life. Meanwhile, cultural exchange is completely mutual. It’s interesting because most elements from other cultures that are appropriated are typically looked at as weird and unaccepted until the majority make it “cool”.
People call out non- people of color daily when they appropriate another culture but what about the instances when a person of color appropriates the cultural of another person of color. Is it still ok okay? Does it now become cultural exchange?
My father is from Guyana, South America (look it up) and my mother is from the United States. Yes, obviously I am African American but I am also West Indian or of Caribbean descent. As a West Indian, I hear a lot of culturally insensitive banter, and 9/10 it’s from another person of color.
- “so your dad is basically Jamaican” – no ASS my dad is basically Guyanese
- “so you be eating oxtails and curry and stuff almost every day “– no ASS I don’t eat curry every day, do you eat fried chicken and greens everyday?
- “Well that explains why you’re pretty, you’re foreign”– no ASS I am American as fuck
- ” You’re probably crazy cause you’re foreign”– no ASS I am just as crazy as any other woman
- “So does your dad talk weird” – no ASS because an accent is not weird its native to his country
- ” so you like reggae, *plays Bob Marley*” – yes I do like reggae, but Bob Marley is not the only artist
These instances typically are brushed off and I have stopped responding, answering these questions or even trying to educate people about what it means to be West Indian. But DRAKE was my very last straw!!
Drake is literally the definition of cultural appropriation and its to the point that now hip hop and pop cultural think it’s just normal and part of the music industry. From Drakes album “The Views from the 6″, he had songs like ” One Dance” and “Controlla”, which is so obviously inspired by Caribbean culture.
Recently Sean Paul, reggae artist and Jamaican native spoke on the same topic, in an interview he says, “[Drake is] friendly with a few people in the business in Jamaica and that’s good, I love it. But if he had given more accolades when he was actually making it and said ‘this is the music I love’, it would have been cool.”
If my memory serves me right after his feature on Rhianna’s “Work” is when he started using the Caribbean style in his music. Listening to a recent podcast and Youtube videos that were speaking on the same topic and they all have mentioned Popcaan, one of my favorite reggae artist right now, is on these Drake songs, seen in his videos, and other public appearances, but how many people can honestly say they even know who Popcaan is? Why is Drake not paying homage?
Since the summer of “Controlla”, now the whole hip hop & pop game thinks that sound biting reggae music is normal. Although I love these songs, a spade is a spade and appropriation is appropriation. DJ Khaled has done it, Justin Beiber has done it, Ed Sheeran has done it, French Montana has done it….
But for me its even a little deeper that just sampling the music, but going as far as to speak in a Caribbean dialect to make yourself feel more authentic, those must have been the views from the 6 ALL THIS APPROPRIATION. Drake has people out here telling girls to ” conk up ya bumba and sit it down pon meh”, “mi love how ya unruly” and have no idea what they’re saying. This to me is as bad as hearing someone not of Carribean decent calling someone a “bloodclot” or a “scun”, or even using the adjective “ross” because they find it entertaining. You wouldn’t just aimlessly say things in Spanish because it sounds cool so why do it to Caribbean culture?
Even Chris Brown is starting to subtly do it too, although not as bad as Drake, but notice in a couple of his songs he’s been adding lyrics straight from DanceHall songs. For example in his feature on Omarion’s song “Post to be” he has a specific line that says, “Murder she wrote, You want to know how I know what I know?”. To most people, this is just a nice rhyme and some will recognize it because Murder she wrote is definitely a 90s “For the Culture” reggae song. But he also includes in the chorus of his most recent song “Privacy”, “Ayy you girl in the tight up skirt” , which can also be found in a very “For the Culture” reggae song. And because it’s done so subtle, people not of the Caribbean decent wouldn’t pick up on it, and now it becomes something cool to do and say.
While doing my research on the topic, twitter never fails with the clap-backs and opposing arguments. One tweet said “But Drake is black”- OK and he’s got a beard too since we are just aimlessly stating the obvious. Another tweet said, “Tyga did it too and no one said anything.” Well, two things: 1. Tyga ain’t that great, to begin with, but 2. His father is of Jamaican decent, therefore it is apart of his culture. Want to talk about Tory Lanez, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Jason Derulo- all the same story, they are of Caribbean decent so this is their culture.
But Drake – Mr.Culture Vulture himself he’s not of anyone’s Caribbean decent therefore he needs to pay homage, reggae & soca are not the majority in the American music industry so stealing its style for your own benefit is absolutely , 100% without a doubt cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation comes in all colors and is absolutely not a term that is only reserved for non- people of color. Wanting to use something that inspires you from another culture in your way of expression, without being offensive, go for it, by all means, but there is a very thin line between cultural appreciation and appropriation. Be careful where you are on that line.