If you’re a living organism that has walked the earth in the past month, you’ve probably heard the number one song in the country, “Work,” by Rihanna and Drake. The pair have been lauded for their chemistry and it’s pretty clear this duo is truly unstoppable when they join forces (for the greater good). But there’s an issue all these thinkpieces have been missing about the song. Rihanna is not speaking in Jamaican patois, cuz ya know, she’s Bajan. She’s speaking Bajan creole.
Don’t get me wrong, I love when pop culture embraces the Caribbean world. And I’m so happy to see island music being celebrated when performed by someone from that culture, instead of opportunistic stars in search of capitalizing off the latest pop music trend. For Rihanna, this sound is no trend, it’s her life.
However, it’s not okay to homogenize all Caribbean culture into Jamaica. And this is coming from someone who’s family is Jamaican. As someone of Caribbean descent, I want to hear people talking about Trini’s, Bajans, Guyanese people! Because a win for them is a win for all of us. HOWEVER, they are all not the same. Yes, there is a common thread that holds them together, but let’s not act like Rihanna has not been in the game for well over a decade. We know she’s not from Jamaica. Learn about her country. It’s beautiful.
To the average American who has not interacted with Caribbeans often, they may hear Rihanna and not recognize the difference between her accent and any other Caribbean’s. And that’s okay. But for all you “writers” crafting up these mighty, mighty thinkpieces, no excuses for you!