Yasiin Bey Says Drake's Music Is Compatible With Shopping
During an already-memed podcast interview, the artist formerly known as Mos Def said the Canadian superstar's music was likeable, but he wouldn't call it hip-hop.
Hip-hop legend Yasiin Bey has a hot take on Canadian superstar Drake's music — specifically, that it isn't hip-hop. In a new interview with designer Recho Omondi on her fashion podcast The Cutting Room Floor, the musician and actor said Drake's music is pop, rather than hip-hop, and that it makes him think of shopping — or, "shopping with an edge," Bey said. Clips from the interview have been widely circulated and already-memed.
In the video of the interview, Omondi asks Bey: "Is Drake hip-hop?" "Why are you doing this to me?" Bey whispers, before answering that to him, Drake is pop. "In the sense that it's charting like popular music?" Omondi asks. "In the sense that if I was in Target, in Houston, and I heard a Drake song...so it feels like a lot of his music is compatible with shopping," Bey replies, and Omondi breaks into laughter. The two then riff on the shopping comparison: "So many products!" Bey exclaims, "They have everything here! This is great. This is the new Drake, you hear it? This is great."
Bey then becomes more philosophical, wondering how long Drake's commercial dominance can last. "What happens when this thing collapses?" he asks. "Are we not in some early stage of that at this present hour? Are we seeing the collapse of the empire? Buying and selling, where's the message that I can use?"
Bey's comments bring up a lot of issues that are often the subjects of critical debate in music: when does commercialism overtake art? If music is made for consumption can it still have a potent message? When an artist like Drake or Taylor Swift becomes too big to fail, what does that mean for the industry and for artistry? And when an industry — or a society — values consumption so highly, where can that possibly lead?
Drake hasn't responded so far, but he referenced Bey last year in a comment to Complex, when the website had poets like Hanif Abdurraqib review the Toronto artist's poetry book, Titles Ruin Everything. Drake asked the site to do an article "where the baddest Instagram girls in the world review my poetry book, not the head of the Mos Def fan club... Thanks."
Yasiin Bey has earned his place in hip-hop history, with influential albums like 1999's Black on Both Sides. In 2022, Bey released a new album in collaboration with Talib Kweli as the duo Black Star, No Fear Of Time. Bey has also long been politically active and outspoken about racism and police brutality. Elsewhere in the podcast, he talks about violence across the globe, particularly in Palestine, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as colonial legacies.
Find more clips from the interview here.