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Drake and Black Coffee’s evolving bromance and the arrival of a new era

Drake and Black Coffee.Picture: Instagram

Drake and Black Coffee.Picture: Instagram

Published Jul 24, 2022

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On the surface, Drake and Black Coffee don’t share much in common. One is a Canadian rap star who grew up as a mixed race child in a white neighbourhood, the other is a South African house DJ from the poor township of Ngangelizwe in Mthatha.

But over the years, the two have established an unlikely friendship that’s grown into a full blown bromance.

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Last week Saturday, while Black Coffee was performing at Hi’ Ibiza, a prominent club in the popular club and tourist destination, Drake appeared in the crowd with a small entourage.

Like everyone else there, he seemed eager to have a good time and enjoy a night out dancing to some house music with his friends. Meanwhile, behind the decks, the veteran house DJ appeared to spot him and wave him over to him.

Drake duly obliged and went over to the DJ booth, cameras flashing all around him. With his arms stretched out wide and a child-like smile planted on his face, Drake went on to give Coffee the warmest of hugs.

With “Massive”, the lead single on Drake’s new album “Honestly, Nevermind” (which Black Coffee executive produced), appropriately blaring loudly from the speakers, they danced to the uptempo house bop as the crowd cheered them on.

Black Coffee and Drake. Picture: Instagram

The next day, after Coffee posted a video on Instagram of this interaction, Drake commented: “Thank you for one of the best moments of my life and for allowing me to see lbiza for the first time in a room standing next to you. Eternal love for you.”

There are Tweets that have been circulating these past few weeks about how happy male friends are when they’re together. One particular Tweet comes to mind: “I’m convinced men get butterflies when their homeboys pull up.”

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When exactly Drake and Coffee became such close buddies is unclear. But Drake’s first public show of admiration came in 2017 when he enlisted Coffee to contribute on his “More Life” project.

Released a year after “Views”, a stale album which saw Drake at his least creative, “More Life” was bursting with life, thanks in large part to Black Coffee’s house influence.

On the project, the pair teamed up for a remake of Black Coffee’s classic house anthem, ‘Superman“, alongside British singer Jorja Smith. Drake was so heavily influenced by Coffee and his South African roots that he even titled one of the songs ”Madiba Riddim“.

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A year later, during Coffee’s show at a nightclub in Drake’s hometown Toronto, the “God’s Plan” star made sure to be in attendance to support his bestie.

Drake's 'Honestly, Nevermind' is a welcome change of pace for the ubiquitous superstar, but it ultimately feels more careless than carefree.

One absorbing image which Coffee posted after the show showed Drake behind him, phone in hand recording the DJ like a fan watching his idol. Coffee later explained: “When I met Drake, he came over, he took my hand and held it down and he said ‘legend’. That’s how it happened. Still surreal.’

The pair continued this bromance last year as Drake attended a private show where Black Coffee was playing. In the series of Instagram Stories of the award-winning DJ, Drake stood right in front of him, shrieking with joy whenever Coffee added effects to his set.

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As if all this wasn’t enough, they took their bromance and working relationship to a new level last month when Drake enlisted Black Coffee to co-executive produce his new house album, “Honestly, Nevermind”.

On the new album, Drake is at times rapping over house beats, which is unheard of.

Following last year’s “Certified Lover Boy”, Drake's seventh album and his most tired since "Views", Drake needed a change of scenery.

The artist who changed the course of hip-hop history more than a decade ago, when he blended moody singing and RnB sensibilities in his raps, was for the first time sounding bored and uninventive.

So what did he do? He sought the services of Black Coffee to spice things up and oversee a much needed course correction. When Drake runs out of ideas, he reaches out to Black Coffee. That was the case with “More Life”, and it’s the case again now, some five years later.

When Drake burst into the scene in 2009 by marking a new sonic arrival with his mixtape “So Far Gone”, he completely turned the game on its head and changed the narrative by weaving singing and rapping together. And now that’s all we hear in hip-hop today.

In 2019, Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times, “What he’ll be remembered for is how casually and effectively he rebuilt hip-hop – the genre as it is today is indelibly in his image…

Black Coffee. Picture: Instagram

There are now rappers who are also singers in Spanish, rappers who are also singers in French, rappers who are also singers in Korean. Which means that the sound of pop around the world for the next decade or more will stand on his shoulders.”

While the jury is still out on “Honestly, Nevermind”, if history is to repeat itself, Drake might once again be changing music as we know it.

And he’s doing it with SA’s very own Black Coffee right beside him.

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