In its four weeks at Number one, Drake’s latest single, One Dance featuring Wizkid and Kyla has come under some serious fire here at PearShaped, with writers at a loss as to how the song has become so successful. You may detect a hint of controversy in the air. That is because, my good reader, I think the song is pretty good.
The Caribbean-inspired beat and chilled out vocals are vibesy as hell, and even though the song had to be released early due to the threat of leaks, the timing couldn’t be better. Temperatures are rising and sun-loving folk across the Northern Hemisphere are in search of this year’s summer jam. Perhaps the song’s success can be attributed to timing. Perhaps my liking it is just a case of setting. But sitting on the Exmouth beach today in shorts and sunscreen with bright rays beaming down, One Dance suited the atmosphere perfectly - (I do apologize to those unfortunate people who’ve not finished exams, whom I’m currently making very jealous).
The song draws on an array of influences. Drake samples Kyla’s 2008 UK Funky song, Do You Mind, which provides the refrain of “baby I like your style”, as well as the breezy backbone for One Dance’s beat. The track also features Nigerian artist, Wizkid whose chants of “back up, back up and wine it” add to the song’s collaborative, impromptu feel. Wizkid also helped to write the song, and his influence as an afrobeat artist is evident in the beat’s composition. Drizzy also draws on Jamaican phraseology in the song’s title lyric “I need a one dance”. It might seem like a simple detail, but this grammatical variation - “a one dance” - gives the line a mellifluousness that a lot of Jamaican music boasts, thanks to it’s fluid use of language. Whether Drake has the right to use this language is another question for another article, but the effect here is pleasing.
Because of the broad array of influences on One Dance, the track feels, as one Pitchfork reviewer put it, like “full-fledged multiculturalism on display”. This might be a bit too exuberantly phrased, but the point stands: Drake seems to be embracing a wider variety of influences from around the world. Yet, he has come under criticism for not going far enough in his multi-cultural musical ventures. There has been some controversy surrounding the fact that, despite his apparent aim of bolstering grime music in North America, Drake has not included any grime artists on his latest record, Views. That said, at the rate he’s releasing music (he released two mixtapes in 2015 and album so far in 2016) it’s surely just a matter of time before we get a Skepta-Drake collaboration.
But let’s return to the song at hand. No, One Dance isn’t revolutionary. It’s not terribly original. It’s not very complicated (although, the use of samples to bring Kyla and Wizkid into dialogue during the song’s bridge is pretty clever). But One Dance is catchy, warm and, as previously mentioned, it’s vibesy as hell. I suspect that, much like last year’s divisive “tropical house” summer hit, Cheerleader (which I also really enjoyed), One Dance will be oft heard across beaches and clubs this summer. And I hope that when that happens, you will take a one dance, Hennessy in hand.