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6 Nigerian Music Professionals Share How They Feel About Drake Using Afropop Sounds

What Drake’s collabs with Wizkid mean for those who are closest to the genre.

April 15, 2016

@theo.skudra

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In addition to Drake's use of global sounds from Latin America, the U.K., and the Caribbean, he’s also shown a fondness for afropop. The genre is a combination of traditional Nigerian rhythms with more modern sounds, heavy percussion, and lyrics sung in both English and local languages. On songs like the remix of Wizkid’s "Ojuelegba" with Skepta and on his most recent single, “One Dance” featuring Wizkid and Kyla, Drake’s adoption of the sound reveals his ambitions to access an international arena. As he aims to dominate the mainstream on a global level, Drake is bringing dashes of the continent as he works to merge cultures. Over email, The FADER spoke to some Nigerian music professionals and critics to hear about their perspectives on Drake’s fusion of afropop with his existing sound.

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1. Osi, “The Morning Rush Show" On The Beat 99.9 FM Lagos

What do you as an afropop listener and music professional think about Drake's use of afropop sounds in his new music?

This is the second time Drake has infused afropop in his sound; we heard him do it on the remix of "Ojuelegba." I believe it shows his versatility as a recording artist that seeks to broaden his musical horizons by incorporating a soundset that is far left from what he is used to or grew up with.

Without mincing words, Drake's use of afropop is brilliant and genius at the same time.

How do you feel when you hear those specific songs?

I feel at home. That awesome sense of belonging that an artist I love is using a sound I can relate to makes me swell with pride that our music has broken barriers and transcended borders.

2. Dami, “Saturdays Afternoon Show” On The Beat 99.9 FM Lagos

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What do you as an afropop listener and music professional think about Drake's use of afropop sounds in his new music?

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Afropop is a sound that should be universal so it isn't a surprise that Drake has decided to put his efforts into international mainstream music. The use of afropop by Drake opens doors, windows, and vents for every single musician who works at a successful rate in that genre. With his newfound love of Wizkid, it won't take time before other A-list musicians start to look for their own partner-in-afropop-crime.

How do you feel when you hear those specifics songs?

When I heard the "Ojuelegba" remix, I was elated. When I listened to Drake's new music featuring the afropop sound with Wizkid again, all I did was wait for the song to take a Nigerian artist to the Billboard Hot 100 charts and when it happened it felt way better than listening to the song. Afropop made the charts because Drake has the numbers to take the genre to a different level. The thought of the great accomplishments of afropop with this continued support is bigger than one song, but it started with "One Dance."

3. Toolz, "The Mid-day Show" On The Beat 99.9 FM Lagos

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What do you as an afropop listener and music professional think about Drake's use of afropop sounds in his new music?

I think it is a fantastic thing for the afropop movement. Drake is one of the biggest artists in the world right now, and he is in a unique position to help get afropop music into the mainstream, [which is] an issue that the movement has been facing since it started.

How do you feel when you hear those specifics songs?

When I first heard him on the "Ojuelegba" remix, I was really excited as I believed this could be the beginning of a global afropop movement. Even though I was a bit disappointed that we didn't hear more from Wizkid on "One Dance," I saw it differently from the music business point of view. I see these songs as allowing African music to penetrate new markets and reach new audiences.

4. Maria, “The Morning Rush” On The Beat 99.9 FM Lagos

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What do you as an afropop listener and music professional think about Drake's use of afropop sounds in his new music?

It's a natural progression. I'm not surprised. Our music is being heard all over the world and is being exported through collaborations with international artists done by D'banj/Kanye West, P Square/Rick Ross, Omawumi/Angelique Kidjo, Reekado Banks/Wale, Davido/Meek Mill, Wizkid/Drake, etc. Drake already remixed Wizkid's "Ojuelegba", so returning the favor was expected. If he wants to appeal to the world, he needs to consider the big players here. Wizkid is one, and that's what he did.

How do you feel when you hear those specifics songs?

I am excited, especially because the song isn't crap. It's a feel good song! It also makes me happy to see that we're creating history and breaking barriers.

5. Ayodele Adepoju, Editor-in-chief Of We Plug Good Music

What do you as an afropop listener and music professional think about Drake's use of afropop sounds in his new music?

If we're talking about "One Dance," I think I hear more of a U.K. Funky House sound on this record, because of the Crazy Cousinz sample and the Kyla feature and we all know how much Drake loves U.K. music—grime, Craig David, etc.—so no real surprises there. But, further from that, I think the record has more of a dancehall feel to it, than any strong afropop sensibilities sonically.

Having said that, featuring Wizkid on the record plus the fact that Drake jumped on his "Ojuelegba" record last summer is a great look for the entire afropop scene. It puts a massive spotlight on Wizkid as an artist and, by extension, on some of the great music coming out of Africa. Unless I have failed to spot it, I'm not entirely sure Drake getting Wizkid on this record necessarily means he is using afropop sounds in his music, but he is certainly showing an affinity for afropop, simply by working with Wizkid.

How do you feel when you hear those specifics songs?

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I loved hearing Drake on "Ojuelegba." It was a great feeling! Almost a feeling of validation for the entire afropop movement, like if Drake knows about this "Ojuelegba" record and can do a remix of it, then the rest of the international music industry cannot continue sleeping on our scene. It's interesting that one artist can have that power but that's the pull Drake has. And, true enough, after that remix, the international community became that bit more receptive to afropop music.

As for "One Dance," at first I felt let down at what I perceived to be a bit part role played by Wizkid on the record. I feel he was grossly underutilized. But for what it's worth, I now really like the record and especially the Wizkid refrains. Again, it is certainly a win for Wizkid and afropop as a scene. We'll be claiming it as a win, that's for sure. Wizkid featuring on a major single from mainstream artists like Drake exposes him, his music, and the wider afropop scene to mainstream audiences and that's always a win.

6. Osagie Osarenkhoe, Artist Manager

What do you as an afropop listener and music professional think about Drake's use of afropop sounds in his new music?

Drake's new fusion of afropop in his new music has created a refreshing sound, which is pretty much what Drake does every time with new music. It's more exciting because it's closer to home this time and reinforces the rapid growth of afropop, especially Nigerian music around the world. Originality always stands out, consistency and being persistent with your sound always works. The contribution from Wizkid is a big move for Wizkid as an artist and for African music. Looking forward to more international artists collaborating with African artists and fusing afropop in their sounds.

How do you feel when you hear those specifics songs?

I feel a strong sense of accomplishment being a part of the Nigerian and African music industry. Our sound gets global one track at a time and it's a big encouragement.

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6 Nigerian Music Professionals Share How They Feel About Drake Using Afropop Sounds