If you’re both a fan of dancehall and Drake, when “Controlla” ft. Popcaan leaked, you were ecstatic. Any lover of West Indian music knows the joy of listening to the rhythms of the Caribbean and a co-sign from Drake surely meant that more cross-genre, soca/dancehall/reggae hip-hop fusions would be to come. This was the thought until Views dropped and Popcaan wasn’t on the album, but the Caribbean sound remained.

West Indians were nothing short of irate. Drake was accused of being a culture vulture and in proper West Indian fashion, and name-calling began. A few called him “Eastern Parkway Drake,” noting his inauthenticity, similar to the Labor Day West Indian parade held on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. “Drake the fake” was the name given by Mr. Vegas in a video defending Dancehall music and Popcaan from the “wrongdoings” of The 6’s most prized possession. The next blow came when Drake attributed the word “ting” to Toronto, missing the fact that Toronto acquired the word by way of many generations of West Indians who don’t pronounce their h’s.

Though the last offense was written off because Drake wasn’t exactly wrong, the Canadian rapper was seemingly riding the wave of Caribbean culture for fun. This didn’t sit well with those who were uncomfortable with an “outsider” profiting off of our culture. In a few ways, it seemed to be an appropriation of sorts. Drake was no Iggy Azalea, he was the kid who pretended to be Jamaican, just to seem cool or “exotic” but was never teased for eating “weird food.”

Drake didn’t respond to the accusations — well at least not in a way that anyone expected him to. His response was obscure yet so epic, that it flew over everybody’s heads. He added a soca/reggae stage to OVO Fest with the King of Soca, Machel Montano as the headliner backed by the King of Dancehall Beenie Man.

Drake’s response couldn’t have been any better. His annual OVO Fest draws crowds of hip-hop lovers from all over during Toronto’s biggest weekend — Caribana. The timing of both events never necessarily meant that OVO Fest attendees got to experience Caribbean culture while in Toronto, however, Drake is bridging that gap. He’s using his star power to give West Indian artists a place to bring their music into the world, outside of Caribbean communities. Most Caribbean artists are already international, playing on stages in major cities from London to Toronto to New York City, but by integrating these more niche genres into a huge hip-hop based event, a new level of well-deserved respect is being given.

The artists, also, couldn’t be more excited to help. Beenie Man unfortunately wasn’t able to make the show, but Machel Montano brought out Sean Paul, Kes the Band, Angela Hunte and Olatunji and a few others. Machel, who headlined the show, sang praises of Drake and OVO, thanking them for allowing him and the other artists to have this stage.

These artists in no way need Drake or Drake’s stage to continue making the phenomenal music that they do, but a little more exposure never hurt anybody.

As a West Indian, to say the least, seeing Machel wave an OVO flag and not a Trini flag, was a game-changer. That moment was the moment I knew that the entire world might finally learn about the powerhouse that is soca.

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