The state of African music has been consistently blazing hot for the last 5-6 years, and what better way to add momentum to it this year than having one of the biggest global artists feature Africa’s “Justin Bieber” on a track? In anticipation of his album, Views From The 6, Drake recently dropped two tracks as a preview to what’s to come for the summer. Both tracks are available on iTunes and feature artists with instant name recognition: Jay-Z & Kanye appear on “Pop Style”, while Nigeria’s own WizKid adds his flavour to “One Dance.”
Although I am a fan of both Drake and the African music industry, features like this usually get mixed reviews. With or without due recognition, there’s no question that African music has had an impact on several genres of music, including hip-hop. Music insiders have long campaigned for collaborations like this to bring attention to what the African continent has to offer in terms of music. This is the second time these two have worked together: last summer, Drake appeared alongside UK rapper Skepta on the remix of Wizkid’s hit “Ojuelegba.”
However, “One Dance” may not be the track we were hoping for from such a collab. Other than its similarities to Rihanna’s “Work”, which also features Drake in the same melodic fashion, the new song may come across as a forced attempt to bridge into the Afrobeats genre. Nonetheless, “One Dance” will still get spins from club and radio DJ’s simply due to the notoriety of both artists.
Similar features with African artists and buzzworthy American artists are slowly becoming more common and include recent pairings Ayo Jay feat. Fetty Wap, Davido feat. Meek Mill, & Ice Prince Feat. French Montana. Expect to see more of these as the American music industry begins to recognize the African music industry for the gold mine it is, even for veteran artists who may be “washed up” in the quickly revolving American entertainment field.
For Drake, the track is yet another very smart chess move as it gives him even more rapport with over a billion potential African fans. Yet it leaves Wizkid with nothing more than credits on Drake’s upcoming album. That isn’t a bad gig either, but this may not be what African artists are hoping for from features. Rather they would like something with more commercial appeal that could solidify a bridge into the lucrative American music industry.
So will “One Dance” give WizKid and the African music scene the buzz it’s looking for? Not with this track. But do expect to hear this at your local dancehall or Afrobeats party and African radio stations.