A Dialect Expert Explains What’s Going On With Drake’s Accent In ‘Jungle’

“He’s just using a different voice for the different people he speaks to.”

In yesterday's short film, "Jungle," Drake looks wistful and contemplative as he drifts around L.A. and Toronto. He doesn't rap much in the film—he was saving that for last night's surprise release of If You're Reading This It's Too Late—but there is some odd talking, with Drake adopting a muddled dialect that sounds somewhere between a thick Canadian accent and a West Indian patois. Much of the internet was confused.

Rawiya Kameir, a regular FADER contributor and Toronto native, thought it was funny that people were perplexed at all: "lmaooooooooo at everyone who said drake has a 'new accent' obviously you've never met a toronto roadman before," she tweeted. Later, she elaborated over email: "It's basically standard black vernacular in Toronto." Some people on Twitter are saying it's a Sauga accent, which is short for Mississauga, a city that borders Toronto—where PARTYNEXTDOOR is from.

John Fleming, a speech and dialect coach who lives a couple hours outside Toronto, said Drake's accent in the video is only "vaguely specific" to the city. "Drake has been very affected by American accents," Fleming told FADER, "though you can hear some of the heavy R sounds and some vowels typical of Canadian [speech]." Later, when Drake's in a huddle of dudes on the street, his voice shifts. "Outside the pharmacy, Drake is much more in line with how the men around him sound," Fleming said. "He's talking to a bunch of different guys who might be from many different places." Fleming suggested that Drake is code-switching, or changing the way he speaks to adapt to a specific situation. "I don't feel he's putting on a whole different dialect," he said. "He's just using a different voice for the different people he speaks to. Think about the voice you use with a bank teller compared to the voice you speak to your grandma with."

So, that's one idea. Drake's changing speaking voice on "Jungle" might just be a case of his hanging with different friends. But heading back to where you came from is a strange, special phenomenon—especially for a guy who's always on the road—and it's real easy to slide back into old habits, including slang and dialect. And that's not code-switching—that's just life.

A Dialect Expert Explains What’s Going On With Drake’s Accent In ‘Jungle’