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Music

Drake releases ‘Hotline Bling’ video, but it’s stirring up rip-off accusations

Drake

“Hotline Bling” by Drake, shown, has too much in common with the 2014 single “Cha Cha” to be a coincidence, complains fellow rapper D.R.A.M.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a big day in Canada: a new (and rather photogenic) prime minister gets elected and a new Drake video drops all at once.

While both stand to change the current mood of the country, only the latter is ginning up some charges that it got an uncredited push to the top. 

The “Hotline Bling” video is an undisputed charmer. In it, Drake saunters around a room of color-block screens evoking James Turrell installations, doing an endearingly goofy dad-dance as silhouetted women pose behind him. 

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However, one artist who is not enjoying Drake’s turtleneck-and-finger-twirl combo is the Virginia rapper D.R.A.M., who is vociferously complaining that “Hotline Bling” shares a bit too much with his 2014 single “Cha Cha” to be a coincidence.

The songs do share a similarly spacey reggae-funk feel and tempo (some common sonic reference points include Timmy Thomas’ funk hit “Why Can’t We Live Together” and the “Star Song” from Super Mario Bros.), and there’s ample reason to believe D.R.A.M.'s single passed into Drake’s production orbit.

Even Beats1 thought “Hotline Bling” was a “Cha Cha” remix at first. But the dispute again brings up the vague boundaries among inspiration, overt sampling and amorphous “feel” that the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit raised.

Drake is usually a happy co-signer when he uses material from underground artists he admires, and hasn’t yet credited D.R.A.M. with any contributions to “Hotline Bling.” Maybe he’ll feel obligated to do so given all the commotion. Erykah Badu, who hopped on an official remix of the song, replied to D.R.A.M.'s tweet that they “loved Cha Cha first. Very unique and raw. That’s That underground magic force that sparks a seed to grow a tree.”

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