TV & Movies

Meet the Western PhD Student Who Just Published a Paper on Drake

In a recent published academic paper, Amara Pope argues that Drake's hybrid identity allow him to reach a greater audience (and like us, she's just not into #DrayLo)


Aside from writing about the Canadian rapper, the multi-talented Amara Pope has also painted Drake (Photograph: courtesy Amara Pope)

Western University PhD student Amara Pope is getting up close and personal with Drake— though she yet to actually meet the 6 God.

Like most Canadians, Pope first became a fan of Aubrey Graham through Degrassi. Now, the 22-year-old media researcher is sharing her views on Drizzy with the academic community.

Her research, published on December 31, explores how Drake’s music videos connect with Jewish and black communities, Canadians, Americans, high-rollers, the working class—and everyone in between.

“He’s authentic because he’s actually drawing on his personal cultural background,” says Pope, explaining that different videos represent various aspects of Drake’s hybrid identity as a half black, half Jewish Canadian-American. “In ‘HYFR,’ he showcases his connection to the Jewish community by including a home video of his actual bar mitzvah in the music video. In ‘Started from the Bottom,’ he shows Toronto landmarks and because he’s so ingrained in Toronto’s culture, he’s able to create a believable connection to those locations. And then in ‘Worst Behavior,’ by putting his dad in the video, he’s showing a biological tie to Memphis.” (Not to mention, he dropped the “u” from behaviour, making it v. American.)

Though Drake can relate to numerous cultural groups, Pope’s paper highlights the biracial rapper’s struggled to be accepted within various communities—a challenge which model Sofia Richie, Lionel Richie’s daughter, also recently spoke about.

“A lot of the backlash that Drake [has faced] was because he was in the hip-hop community, which is very much rooted in black culture,” says Pope. “We also saw this with Eminem, who was challenged for being ‘too white.’ Drake states that when he spent time with his father in Tennessee, he was sometimes seen as ‘too white’ for the community of black musicians, but in the Jewish community, he was sometimes seen as ‘too black,’ taunted and called a ‘schwartze,’”

While Pope’s cultural makeup differs from Drizzy’s, she says that she still relates to his hybrid identity.

“My parents immigrated to Canada from Trinidad and our bloodline goes back to India so it was a challenge for me to understand my place,” she says. Growing up in Elmira, a small town in Ontario, Pope says she felt like she was living a double life; one that was Trinidadian at home, and Canadian in public.

Pope’s personal experience, mixed with her Drake fangirl status, continues to fuel her research at Western University.

“I think it’s really important to understand the power that musical artists have in shaping culture, identity, and language,” she says.

One new term that she’s not a huge fan? #DrayLo, the portmanteau for Drake and rumoured gf, Jennifer Lopez: “I liked the RiRi and Drake combo the best.” [Editor’s note: US TOO.]

Drake has yet to comment on Pope’s research but she remains hopeful that with the recent publicity, one day, her hotline may bling.

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