Dancehall has seen a resurgence in the U.S. mainstream this year, with its sounds heard on some of the most popular songs: Drake's "Controlla" and "One Dance," as well as Rihanna's "Work." But instead of crediting where the sound came from, these artists continue to exploit Jamaica's influence—and Sean Paul is calling them out on it.
In an interview with The Guardian, the dancehall artist speaks on the ongoing cultural appropriation. “It is a sore point when people like Drake or Bieber or other artists come and do dancehall-orientated music but don’t credit where dancehall came from and they don’t necessarily understand it,” Paul says. “A lot of people get upset, they get sour. And I know artists back in Jamaica that don’t like Major Lazer because they think they do the same thing that Drake and Kanye did—they take and take and don’t credit.”
Major Lazer is known for using dancehall and reggae as the base for their songs, despite their "Lean On" smash being dubbed as "tropical pop." Justin Bieber's chart-topping "Sorry" was another dancehall disservice, as it stripped its flavorful sounds from Jamaica without producers Skrillex and Blood crediting the island's influence. Drake's awkward overuse of patois slang is also problematic, despite the artist using his native Toronto upbringing and friendship with Popcaan as a weak excuse.
Sean Paul is well aware of all of this, and he states the main issue is that dancehall artists cannot easily obtain U.S. visas. So touring and working with producers is almost nonexistent, as their voice unfortunately cannot make it across the border. And these artists in the states and Canada aren't helping the cause.
“Dancehall is back but this time it’s also infused with Afrobeat, with hip-hop, with trap, and that’s fine with me. Sure, I would like what we do in Jamaica, that authentic dancehall, to be on top, but it simply isn’t. So I want this album to bridge that gap.”