Fake Patwa?

Jamaican Accented Music in Toronto from Michie to Snow to Drake - a paper presented at the Global Reggae Conference 2017 at UWI Mona, Feb 9-11. Erin MacLeod (Vanier College, Montreal, CANADA)

Toronto, Canada has one of the largest Jamaican communities in the world. It's no surprise that Canada's first hip hop artists were Jamaican Canadians such as Michie Mee and the Dream Warriors. Snow, a white anglo Torontonian, had a huge hit in Jamaica and Canada with "Informer", a song that demonstrated his use of Jamaican language. Kardinal Offishall, another Jamaican Canadian, has rapped about the "Bakardi Slang" of Toronto, and internet memes have illustrated the ways in which Toronto talks Patwa--even the late mayor Rob Ford was filmed cursing in Jamaican while out late at a local restaurant. Most recently, Drake, Canada's most successful hip hop artist ever, has been not only concerned with representing his hometown, but also engaging with Jamaican language. This paper will track the discourse around Patwa in Canadian/Toronto hip hop and look at how Drake continues as well as alters the narrative. ;xNLx;;xNLx;What, however, do we do with Drake? Acknowledging his use of language as Multicultural Toronto English—and English that is inflected by Jamaican creole—provides a direct link to the history of Canadian hip hop and Toronto’s identity as a produced Jamaican space. But it also legitimizes his use of an identity. How do we critique Drake while insisting on the history of Toronto as Jamaican space and Canadian hip hop as Jamaican-inflected—and most certainly NOT fake Patwa?;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline provides a range of articles and sources relevant to the discussion.;xNLx;;xNLx;Thanks to Sharine Taylor and Isis Semaj Hall for thoughtful questions and ideas!

1989-08-01 06:58:14

Symphony in Effect

Maestro Fresh Wes album--features "Let Your Backbone Slide".

1990-02-01 00:00:00

Dance Appeal: "CRTC (Can't Repress the Cause)"

"In 1990, when the last spot on Toronto's radio dial was up for grabs, the CRTC gave it to a country music station, rather than one of four dance/black music applicants, two of whom would have included regular rotations of reggae in their programming (Gerard 1990,33). This became something of a racial issue and The Committee For Dance Music Radio put out a song called 'CRTC (Can't Repress the Cause)'" (McCuaig 64).

1991-02-01 00:00:00

Michie Mee "Jamaica Funk"

With L.A. Luv. Hip hop MCing and dancehall chat.

1991-05-14 11:08:18

Jamaican Funk Canadian Style

Album from Michie Mee and L.A. Luv

1991-08-01 06:58:14

And Now The Legacy Begins

Dream Warriors Album

1996-02-01 00:00:00

Beenie Man and Dream Warriors "Sound Clash"

Song and video connecting dancehall and hip hop. Video shot in Waterhouse, Kingston.

1997-12-01 11:08:18

Eye & I

Kardinal Offishall debut album.

2000-02-01 00:00:00

Baby Blue Soundcrew "Money Jane"

Video by Little X with Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black and Sean Paul.

2000-02-01 06:44:41

Canadian Hip Hop: Choclair Eyes On the Prize: Turning Northern Touch Into Midas Touch

Del Cowie writes about success of Canadian Hip hop. Interesting comment regarding "[combination of] soul and R&B as well as the distinctly West Indian sounds that have come to be identified as particularly Canadian in hip-hop"

2000-03-29 06:44:41

Northern Touch

Derrick Mathis writes in L.A. Weekly about the challenge to Canadian hip hop with reference to Choclair: "Conventional wisdom holds that Canadian hip-hop productions just don’t sound American enough to be successful in the U.S. Perhaps an even bigger obstacle for U.S. acceptance is the sound of Canadian hip-hop voices; many Canadian rappers are first- or second-generation Caribbean immigrants who pepper their rhymes with inflections from Jamaica, Haiti or Trinidad."

2001-02-01 00:00:00

Kardinal Offishall "BaKardi Slang"

Tune discussing Toronto slang/Patwa.

2001-09-05 08:26:42

Kardinal Offishall "Ol' Time Killin'"

Tune using bam bam riddim--clear combination of dancehall and hip hop.

2004-07-06 08:48:17

Jelleestone and Elephant Man "Who Dat?"

Video--one a Muchmusic video award.

2006-07-15 10:03:28

The hidden Jamaican soul of Toronto

Guy Dixon writes about the compilation Jamaica to Toronto: Soul Funk & Reggae 1967-1974.

2010-06-15 12:35:24

Thank Me Later

Drake debut album.

2011-05-18 00:00:00

Jamaican Canadian Music in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s: A Preliminary History

Thesis by Keith McCuaig for a Master of Arts in Music and Culture at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

2011-08-01 12:26:06

From London Jamaican to British youth language: The transformation of a Caribbean post-creole repertoire into a new Multicultural London English

Presentation at the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics conference, Accra, Ghana, August 2011. Investigation as to whether London youth language contains traces of Caribbean creole.

2011-11-15 12:35:24

Take Care

Drake's second album.

2012-01-19 00:00:00

Shit Toronto People Say

Video from TheDudeMcFly demonstrating Patwa-laced Toronto slang.

2013-09-24 12:35:24

Nothing Was the Same

Third Drake album.

2014-01-21 07:00:39

Rob Ford Speaking Patwa

Rob Ford caught speaking Patwa late at night at Steak Queen in Toronto.

2014-04-04 12:35:24

Diasporic mixing of World Englishes: the case of Jamaican Creole in Toronto.

Essay by Lars Hinrichs in The Variability of Current World Englishes (DeGruter 2014).

2014-07-24 09:48:20

The Drake Effect

Nick Krewen writes in Socan Magazine about the impact of Drake on Toronto hip hop artists.

2014-11-07 23:53:54

It’s not all MAGIC! on Canadian reggae scene

Jodee Brown writes about regge in Canada/Toronto, but there is a discussion of hip hop: "[Klive Walker] also says a lot of Jamaican-born artists who grew up here during the emergence of hip hop in the 1980s and ’90s chose hip hop instead of reggae given there were more opportunities to make money."

2015-01-01 05:43:38

“Jamaican Funk – Canadian Style”: Diasporic Dialogue and Hybridized Identity in the Music of Michie Mee

Niel Scobie's Master's thesis. "By using theories of hybridity and third space, my thesis investigates Michie Mee’s articulation of a recognizable hybrid identity that projects both Canadian and Jamaican sensibilities."

2015-02-12 09:28:58

Drake's Canadian Accent in 'Jungle' Short Film--Is that new?

Nadeska Alexis asks questions about Drake's use of Patwa: "Is it just me, or is Drake sounding more Canadian than ever in 'Jungle?'"

2015-02-12 16:12:09

Drake as "Toronto Roadman"

"lmaooooooooo at everyone who said drake has a 'new accent' obviously you've never met a toronto roadman before"

2015-02-26 10:16:17

6 Man

Carl Wilson attempts to look at the Canadianness of Drake; also discusses the language that Drake uses as Jamaican.

2015-04-12 11:57:42

Michie Mee Is The First Lady of Toronto Hip-Hop

Del Cowie looks at Michie Mee's career--use of Patwa is mentioned.

2015-09-19 10:03:28

Reggae Lane mural unveiling celebration

The 1,200 sq ft mural by Adrian Hayles has brought Torontonians together to celebrate their local artist. September, 19, 2015 @ 1526 Eglinton West.

2015-09-24 23:09:36

Peak Drake

Key quotation from Leon Neyfakh's interview: Drake has been channeling those diverse inputs with great enthusiasm lately, most obviously in his use of Toronto-by-way-of-the-Caribbean slang (ting, touching road, talkin’ boasy and gwanin’ wassy) and even religious Arabic words like mashallah and wallahi, a wink to Toronto’s Somali population. “We use [that lingo] every day,” he says, “but it just took me some time to build up the confidence to figure out how to incorporate it into songs. And I’m really happy that I did. I think it’s important for the city to feel like they have a real presence out there.”

2015-11-10 06:44:41

Kardinal Offishall Explains What Toronto Hip-Hop Was Like Before Drake

Rawiya Kameir interviews Kardinal: "Literally from the very first song I had on the mainstream, which was 'Bakardi Slang,' it was a song about the city that I came from, the slang that we used and the styles that we did."

2015-12-14 17:42:22

40 Things You’ll Hear A Scarborough Person Say

Eul Basa lists many slang terms, but basically says that Scarborough (one of the boroughs of Toronto) slang is, basically, Patwa. Another article here: http://www.narcity.com/toronto/15-slang-words-spoken-in-toronto-that-you-could-use-in-your-relationship/#comments

2016-01-01 17:42:22

A note on mans in Toronto

This paper serves as a short note about an ongoing innovation in the pronominal system of multiethnic adolescent Toronto English. The plural noun mans is in the early stages of grammaticalizing into a first person singular pronoun in this speech community in a way similar to the development of man in Multicultural London English.

2016-02-13 10:03:28

Tracing the 6’s boombastic hip-hop roots

Ed Conroy discusses the Jamaican and other Caribbean connections to hip hop in Toronto.

2016-04-08 12:08:24

How “One Dance” Reveals Drake’s Global Ambitions

Anupa Mistry writes about Drake's Patwa: "It was a club staple at a time when Drake was still living in Toronto, listening to local radio, and partying in local spots, so even though his patois might make you cringe, his nostalgia was on brand."

2016-04-26 22:09:28

Is Drake's Dancehall Obsession Homage or Exploitation?

Rob Kenner discusses Drake's use of Jamaican and dancehall tropes with no mention of Canada/Toronto

2016-04-29 12:35:24


Fourth Drake album.

2016-05-16 07:24:22

How Drake’s Toronto Patois Inspired This Weekend’s Best Meme

Jordan Danville interviews Sharine Taylor about meme that makes fun of Drake's use of Patwa.

2016-06-02 20:53:11

Research Guide to Reggae Lane: Toronto's Jamaican Music Scene, 1960s to the Present

Toronto Public Library provides a guide to online sources relating to the Jamaican music scene in Toronto.

2016-07-01 02:09:46

Hip Hop Videos and Black Identity in Virtual Space

Joel Rubin, in The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, discusses Drake's development of identity through his videos.

2016-07-15 11:20:41

This Song Actually Invented The Toronto Sound

Anupa Mistry interviews Kardinal Offishall, Kid Kut, Jully Black and Sean Paul about "Money Jane". Kid Kut: "We are about that Caribbean vibe: everybody you knew, even from two doors down, was West Indian. That was what Toronto sounded like, to me."

2016-07-27 11:20:41

Dancehall Is Pop Now, but We Can’t Let Pop Stars Steal Dancehall

Sharine Taylor discusses the links between dancehall and pop, including an analysis of Drake's "Views".

2016-07-28 11:20:41

Where Did Drake’s “Jamaican” Accent Come From?

Sajae Elder discusses Drake, Patwa and Toronto, asking "what does Toronto actually sound like?”

2016-09-01 11:20:41

How The Language Of Jamaica Became Mainstream

Eternity Martis discusses Patwa in Toronto as well as the history and context of Jamaican.

2016-10-03 00:42:41

Toronto World: Drake, Halal Gang, and the Diaspora in the 6

Safy-Hallan Farah writes about the language of Drake--the coopting of Jamaican Patwa but also Somali.

Fake Patwa?

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