Foreign Gists

Why Jorja Smith didn’t want to collaborate with Drake


Jorja Smith is Britain’s pride and joy when it comes to homegrown singers on a national level. She has done garage songs with Preditah and collaborated with Nigerian afrobeat singer Burna Boy. However, one artist she didn’t want to collaborate with was Drake at first.

Toronto rapper Drake is one of the most decorated artists in hip hop. With four Grammy awards, 13 BET awards and a whopping 34 Billboard awards, the Young Money artist has broken all kinds of musical records. In fact, for the 2010s, Drake was awarded the accolade ‘Billboard Artist of the Decade’, beating pop-music powerhouses such as Rihanna and Adele. So why would anyone in their right mind turn down an opportunity to work with the man?!

Talking to the Evening Standard Magazine on why she wasn’t too keen on collaborating with Drake at first, the singer explained that, initially, she wasn’t involved in the writing process and felt uncomfortable just singing what someone had written, but after her breakup, she reconsidered.

Explaining further, the singer revealed, “I really liked it, but I hadn’t written it, so I didn’t connect to the lyrics. But then I split up with my boyfriend of the time, and I listened back to the song and understood it. So, it worked out well. But you can’t just do stuff for the hell of it, you genuinely have to love what you’re doing.”

The singer, 25, speaking about representation in music and race, detailed her experiences growing up as a mixed-race female outside of London, as she divulged, “My mum’s white and my dad’s black, so I didn’t see many girls who looked like me when I was growing up. I didn’t want to tan because all my friends were white, and they were skinny and had long blonde hair, and I had lips and a bum. It wasn’t until I moved to London that I felt comfortable with myself.”

The singer, who has previously come under heavy fire for her “light-skin” appearance, has always been sensitive to issues surrounding representation in music for people of all shades and has acknowledged colourism in the industry before.

Since her appearance on Drake’s 2017 More Life mixtape, Smith has gone on to work with the likes of Stormzy, Burna Boy and Loyle Carner. Smith’s debut album, Lost & Found, debuted at number three on the UK Albums Charts and was nominated for a Mercury Prize. Smith even released an EP in 2021 entitled Be Right Back which was received fairly well by fans and critics alike.

It’s fair to say that most are waiting to see what Smith delivers for her sophomore album. However, for now take a listen to Smith’s collaboration with Drake in the video below.