Beenie Man Talks About Drake’s ‘Controlla’ Sample

Among the myriad R&B samples that appear on Drake’s fourth studio offering Views — ranging from Ray J’s “One Wish” to Mary J Blige’s “Mary’s Joint” — one standout cameo comes from dancehall legend Beenie Man. After Views’ release on Apple Music late Thursday night (April 28), the Jamaican star gushed to Billboard about Drizzy’s breezy number “Controlla,” previously released as a collaboration with dancehall act Popcaan, which contains a sample of Beenie Man’s 1995 track “Tear Off Mi Garment.” Below, Beenie Man discusses how he landed on “Controlla” and offers an update on his forthcoming Unstoppable album.

Drake samples your song “Tear Off Mi Garment” on “Controlla” from his new album Views. Did he reach out to you first?

They reached out to me to clear the sample then he reached out to me to do an intro for the song [Ed. Note: Beenie Man appears at the end of “Controlla.”] It’s a big deal. For somebody to take a song that I’ve been done for 15 years, to release and put it out — it’s a big deal. It’s always great. For him to idolize me like that, it’s a big deal. [Laughs]

Drake has been dabbling in dancehall. Why do you feel like mainstream artists are embracing it more on their records?

Dancehall is in the mainstream now. [Sings the hook to Rihanna’s “Work”] No. 1 Billboard song. Dancehall is a culture that everyone wants to be a part of. Nobody wants to be part of a culture with no meaning in it. Right now, everybody tries to kick it with the dancehall. It’s our music. And it’s not going nowhere. We make dancehall so we can feel good about ourselves. When everybody starts singing “daggering, daggering, back it up, back it up,” [it’s clear] we set the trend. We’re not here to change it.

As the self-proclaimed king of dancehall, do you feel like you have to protect the culture?

I have to protect the culture. Even when I go on tour, I don’t do other songs, just dancehall music. I introduce the world to what dancehall is ’cause I’m the king of it, and I have to work to keep it up. Jamaica needs trendsetters. They make a trend so the next artist can follow that trend. I stand for dancehall 100 percent and I’m still working and making music for a new album, Unstoppable. [I’ve been] working on it for nine years now. [Laughs]

When are you expecting to release the album?

I will release the single next month on [May] 25th then after that, the album. Akon is on the album as well. There are a few artists on the album but I don’t really want to say.

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