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Only You: Drake speaks Arabic in new track. This is how Twitter reacted

Social media users pick apart Canadian star's pronunciation, and speculate that his line may be an attempt to woo singer Rihanna
The Canadian star is always trying to add to his repertoire - including singing and rapping in different languages (AFP/file photo)

As a rapper, singer, actor and entrepreneur, Aubrey Drake Graham, commonly known as Drake, already has many strings to his bow.

But the Canadian star is always trying to add to his repertoire - particularly when it comes to singing and rapping in different languages. 

On the 2018 track Mia, Drake sang entirely in Spanish. Just last week, in a song titled Greece, the versatile artist tried his hand at rapping in French.

His latest multi-lingual effort, which came in the form of an Arabic line in a track released on Monday, sent Twitter into a frenzy.

“Arabic ting tells me I look like Yusuf, look like Hamza. Habibti please, ana akeed, inti wa ana ahla,” Drake raps in the song Only You featuring British artist Headie One. The Arabic line roughly translates to “I’m sure you and I look better together.”

Some Twitter users were impressed by Drake’s pronunciation. 

However, others were left unconvinced by his attempts, and even thought he may have inadvertently said something entirely different to what he intended.

Many on social media pointed out that Palestinian-American producer DJ Khaled could have been the one to teach Drake Arabic. 

If DJ Khaled’s pronunciation of "baklava" was anything to go by, however, Drake may need to find himself a new teacher.

Pronunciation aside, some thought Drake’s lyrics were positive for Arab and Muslim representation. One user even suggested it was better than the comedy series Ramy, which has been accused of "failing Arab-Americans".

Many found the verse to be catchy, and even suggested ways to enjoy it. 

Users noted that those named "Yusuf" and "Hamza" may be in a particularly celebratory mood after Drake’s reference to the two Arabic names.

Some offered a novel explanation as to why Drake may have decided to try his hand at Arabic: to woo singer Rihanna. 

The two have frequently collaborated on songs, and rumours of romance between them have surfaced and resurfaced since 2009. Rihanna reportedly split with Saudi business tycoon Hassan Jameel earlier this year. 

Several users took the opportunity to point out Drake’s Arab lookalikes. 

Drake himself acknowledged on a 2015 trip to the UAE that he bore a resemblance to Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the son of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

As well as speaking in Arabic, the 33-year-old went on to briefly mention the Palestinian city of Gaza on the track.

The Toronto-born star, who is Jewish, once joked on Instagram: “Hey what’s it like being a Jewish rapper from Canada...I told her the struggle Israel.” 

The comment caused controversy, as it coincided with Palestinian protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip being killed by Israeli forces in April 2018.

Only You isn’t the first Drake track to include an Arabic reference. 

In the 2018 song Diplomatic Immunity, he says “The TV playin' Al Jazeera, Inshallah, I hope the mission keeps on gettin' clearer”. 

The song prompted music publisher Genius to track the history of Arab and Muslim references in hip-hop, including from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Jay-Z. 

Early hip-hop music was strongly influenced by the Nation of Islam (NOI), a religious movement Malcolm X was spokesperson for before denouncing the group a year before his death at the hands of members of the group.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.