Canadian rapper Drake has made waves after he used Arabic lyrics in his latest single, a collaboration with Headie One titled Only You Freestyle, released on Monday.
Drake, who is one of the most successful rappers in the world with an estimated net worth of $150 million, has previously lent his hand to several multi-lingual tracks.
In 2018, the Canadian artist sang the entirety of his track, Mia, in Spanish, while more recently Drake rapped in French as a feature on DJ Khaled’s song, Greece, released last week.
However, Drake’s most recent linguistic foray has made waves on Twitter, prompting both criticism of his pronunciation, amid jokes and praise.
One user wrote: “Drake really is the Christopher Columbus of music & he’s leaving no culture untouched”.
In Only You Freestyle, Drake, whose real name is Aubrey Drake Graham, raps the line:
“Arabic ting told me that I look like Youssef, look like Hamza. Habibti please, ana akeed, inti w ana ahla”. In English, the lyrics translate to “My love please, I’m sure you and I look better”.
Drake also mentioned Gaza, saying “with Pop Skull in Gaza, but not that Gaza, but still it’s mazza”.
Twitter users, however, were quick to poke fun at the lyrics, posting pictures of Drake look-a-likes claiming to be “Youssef and Hamza”.
Other’s tweeted pictures of Drake’s face superimposed on the bust of a person wearing a purple hijab and matching outfit.
drake: arabic ting told me that i look like yusuf, look like humza
the arabic ting: pic.twitter.com/sUn1aZdN4g
— Kasim (@Kasimhussainnn) July 21, 2020
Making light of the current coronavirus pandemic, which has led to nationwide lockdowns to prevent the spread of the novel virus, some users claimed Drake had used quarantine time “wisely”, studying Arabic on popular language instruction site Duolingo.
— F (@ahappyfella) July 22, 2020
One user posted an old photo of Drake writing in a book, claiming the Canadian rapper was now adding “fluent in French and Arabic” to his CV.
Drake adding “fluent in French and Arabic” in his CV like: pic.twitter.com/ew4MlJJy1c
— DK 🔊 (@danyal_kk) July 20, 2020
Another user posted an edit of a well-known meme of Drake, made with stills from his 2015 hit Hotline Bling, poking fun at the Canadian rapper’s Arabic pronunciation. In the meme, Drake appears to first shun the name Hamza, by turning his face away and showing his open palm, before accepting the second option of Khamza.
While others highlighted that he managed to “[hit] the خ’s and everything”, in an apparent poke at his addition of the Arabic letter ‘kh’ where it doesn’t exist in the words he was rapping.
Drake out here spitting in Arabic hitting the خ‘s and everything 🤦🏿♂️😂
— Benzema (@AintThatBenji) July 20, 2020
Meanwhile, some Twitter users praised Drake’s pronunciation, pointing out the Canadian artist was better at the language than them.
drake has a better arabic accent than me
— myesha thee stallion (@myeshachou) July 20, 2020
However, others were not so impressed, noting that Drake had potentially botched the final Arabic word he used, making the meaning rude.
Nevertheless, many users were quick to defend Drake’s attempt at Arabic, with one claiming he’d rather the rapper’s broken speech over chocolate hummus.
Look, if we’re going to have our culture out there for others, I’ll take Drake’s broken Arabic and poor pronunciation and grammar over chocolate hummus any day
— Danny Hajjar داني حجار (@DanielGHajjar) July 21, 2020
Others wondered aloud why Drake, who has previously used Arabic in his tracks, singing “The TV playin’ Al Jazeera, Inshallah, I hope the mission keeps on gettin’ clearer”, had decided to use the language, and where the Canadian rapper learnt it.
Some users claimed Drake had used Arabic in his track to attract the attention of ex-girlfriend Rihanna, who recently split from her Saudi Arabian boyfriend.
Meanwhile, others claimed Drake had learnt Arabic from fellow rapper Palestinian DJ Khaled, who previously posted a video where he appears to correct a waiter on his pronunciation of ‘Baklava’.