“Hmm, it sounds different!”
Maybe that was your first reaction when you heard the UK influence on Drake’s new album- “More Life.” This was my girlfriend’s reaction on a long drive through the backwoods of North Carolina when track 10 “Skepta Interlude” played. I cranked up the volume on the factory speakers and thought, “hmmm, not bad!”
The UK Grime influence was very apparent on “More Life, ” and it may be the first US commercial Hip-Hop album that introduces the American consumer to rap from across the pond. Throughout the album, we heard rapid fire lyrics, Brit slang, wrapped in a thick UK accent.
I often think about Hip-Hop, Black Culture, and Black struggle in an American vacuum. It wasn’t until I left the country that I realized there is a version of my hometown, South-West ATL, in almost every country. This is, of course, thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and centuries of migration from many countries in Africa.
Maybe it’s me, but there hasn’t been a strong global connection of Black stories, experiences, and struggles. Long before the demonstration in Ferguson, Charlotte, and many cities across the States, I remembered the London Riots in 2011. I watched brothers and sisters who look like me demonstrate the most necessary form of civic unrest. Imagine the type of power marginalized communities in different spaces could demonstrate if they shared tactics, social policies, or even financial capital.
Maybe music is the great connector, and Drake’s on to something, maybe not. But regardless, I will use “More Life” to expose myself to UK’s Grime & Black culture. Artist like Giggs, Skepta, and Sampha will be played through my factory speakers.