“Underground” isn’t necessarily a term that can be used to describe Drake anymore. He’s currently doing powerhouse numbers when it comes to album sales and stream counts. But if any current hip hop star can be crowned king, it would be this man.
That statement may have made some of you screw your faces up. The reasons you’d be screwing your face up would be because many of the recent songs he’s released wouldn’t necessarily be categorized as rap or hip hop. Or maybe you’re frowning because of those ghostwriting rumors resulting from an emotional tweet from scorned former collaborator Meek Mill. The final reason you might be already giving the side eye to this article is because you feel that someone else deserves the crown (because of course, for some reason, there can only be one king of hip hop).
Let’s address all of these concerns, so that we can stop having this debate and move on with our very active lives, shall we?
If we’re being honest, Drake has always experimented with his sound. Experimentation is not new for him. While he wasn’t the first hip hop artist to infuse some of his songs with Caribbean or island flavor, he is one of the hip hop artists who has allowed it to be a running theme through his music. And no, he doesn’t do this because he is a “culture vulture” as some of the haters would have you believe. He does this because he hails from Toronto, a diverse area with strong island influence. Rather than spreading hate about something you clearly don’t know, all it takes is a hop across the border to confirm this to be fact. Caribana is an island event that happens every year in Toronto, and people flock from other countries just to experience it.
Since Drake has always experimented with his music, it should come as no surprise that the rapper (yes, I called him a rapper) has continued to experiment as of late. Something about the sound appealed to him, and he is sharing these experiments with us rather than locking them up in a vault the way many artists do. I personally commend him for that, rather than ridicule him for it. When Snoop Dogg wanted to be referred to as Snoop Lion and experimented with reggae music, we never stopped calling him a rapper. At heart, he is a rapper. In his soul, he is a rapper. We know him as a rapper. For Drake, it’s the same. He came into this game as a rapper. Granted, his rap style has melody infused into it which seems to be taking hip hop heads some times to get adjusted to, but Drake has flows. He’s a rapper. And a singer, but don’t discredit him on the rap front.
The ghostwriting rumors. For once and for all, can we lay them to rest? Can we stop frequenting gossip Instagram pages just to say that Drake can’t be considered one of the rap greats because he doesn’t write his own rhymes? Because he does write his own rhymes. Hip hop heads are quick to shout out that Biggie and Tupac would roll in their graves at the thought of the reigning king of hip hop not writing their own lines, but none of us were in the room with Biggie or Tupac while they were writing their music. Only a select few can attest to their writing habits. What I can tell you is that for us to even begin having this discussion, we need to have a clear understanding of what a ghostwriter is. A ghostwriter isn’t credited. Another artist uses their work and adopts the work as their own without crediting the writer. This is often at the request of the writer for whatever reason, and the writer is compensated however he or she sees fit.
Then there are credited writers who contribute to lyrics. All it takes is a look at the album credits – and you can go all the way back to Drake’s early work, the So Far Gone and the Take Care projects, to see who he is crediting. Even when Drake samples music, he makes sure to credit the artists that were involved with the original work, from the writers to the singers/rappers themselves. People who shout out that a rapper should write 100% of their own music most likely have never sat in the room with a rapper and his crew while the songwriting process was happening. Because if those people witnessed the magic behind the scenes, you’d see how often a crew member shouts out a dope line to finish a line that the artist keeps repeating over and over. And if what the crew member shouts out is gold, is it really a bad thing to throw the line in and credit them? Especially knowing that your fans would vibe and turn up to it? He credited Rick Ross for the phrase “YOLO,” and that quickly became a motto shouted from the lungs of anyone who momentarily valued enjoying what life has to offer rather than worrying about the consequences.
Anyone who pays attentions to the captions that this man writes beneath his photos, or the words he uses for his classy clapbacks knows right off the bat that this man is a writer. The persistent haters will insist that anyone can have someone write their own captions for them…but when Drake speaks candidly in his interviews, the words and overall tone matches up with what he writes. There are countless videos online showing him writing his hits. He has written for other stars, of the likes of Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys, and Dr. Dre. But by all means, let’s keep spreading hate and let’s keep discrediting the man anyway, right?
This is a touchy subject for a lot of people and believe me – as a writer, I get it. Please also know that as a writer, if I truly believed that Drake didn’t write his own lyrics, I wouldn’t support him as much as I do (shoutout to the @ovo_fans_ovo family one time). Know that as a writer, I value other writers in the highest regard. I fell in love with this man’s music because of his writing. Even if his music wasn’t my cup of tea, though, I’d be able to call out all of the hate for what it really is.
If someone said that I didn’t write my own articles or Wattpad fiction, it would break my heart a little inside. So much time, and work, and effort goes into it. So many late nights spent, when I had to be at work the next day. So many times I’ve had to blow friends off so that I could get the writing done. I hate to see any artist be discredited, knowing how much work they put into what they do. Think about that the next time, before you go on an Instagram ranting spree.