From justin bieber to drake: a hip-hop icon tells us why it’s important to write your own raps

When Meek Mill accused Drake of not writing his own raps last month, some people wondered why that was such a big deal. After all, singers in various genres generally don’t pen the words they sing.

Beyond that, some said, various rap stars – including Kanye West, Diddy and even Dr. Dre – have been known to have help with lyrics on their albums. So, why was it such a hot topic with Drizzy?

We asked legendary hip-hop producer DJ Premier to break down the culture’s stigma against ghostwriting. Here’s what Preemo shared about Meek’s Drake allegations and why the genre places such an importance on authenticity.

Some Rap Stars Aren’t Held To The Same Standard

DJ Premier/Dr. Dre

“Well, me and Dre just talked about that when we was in the session. Dre was like, ‘Don’t put me in that box. I definitely ain’t no rapper. I’m just a dude that spits rhymes and what they write for me and I happen to like it. Once I like it, then I’ll spit it.’

It has to be something that he can stand behind and make it his. When you hear Dre rap, you’re not thinking about the writing. You’re thinking about how dope he is spitting that sh-t because he’s very good at the delivery.”

But Drake Has Been Held To That Standard His Whole Career

Drake

“So somebody like Drake, for all the body of work he’s put out, it’s like, we definitely are gonna hold him responsible for having dope rhymes that we consider him writing because when you ask for dope people that you think is hot, I always put Drake in the new generation of rappers that I think are incredible because I look at him as the one that’s writing all his stuff.

So, if it’s where he’s being ghostwritten for, which we can’t prove yet – even though I’ve heard some of the little demos that the other boy did – we don’t know how true that is. He could have just redone it and somebody paid him to put it out there. I don’t know. And I really don’t care. My main thing is, Drake seems like too many of those records he’s done, they seem like he wrote them. They just don’t seem like somebody wrote that many joints for him in his carer.”

MCs Are Respected For Writing Their Own Lyrics

1999 MTV Video Music Awards

“If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but in the hip-hop world, we really, really praise lyricists for what they write and how they spit it. When Rakim writes it and spits it with that attitude; when Ice Cube writes it, KRS-One writes it, Chuck D writes it, and J. Cole writes it, when Jay Z writes it – even if it ain’t on paper – and Biggie, even Pac, Nas, it has to come from you.

Again, we don’t put Dre in that box, but Drake, we do put in that box. Even if the rhyme is weak, we want you to write it. So, if somebody helped him out with the hook, and he laid the hook and sang it, we don’t care about that. But the verses? We want to hear your verse come form your brain, your style, your flow, your attitude because we’ve been putting you way up on the top of the hill because of that greatness you’ve been putting out with all your material.”

Here’s Why Drake’s In Hot Water With Some Rap Fans

2015 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Weekend 1 - Day 3

“With Drake, he is in a box, unfortunately, that he can’t get out of where it’s like, ‘Yo, that pen better be yours.’ With Meek, I don’t put him in the same lyrical box as Drake. Meek is a street rapper. So I look at him more of a straight hood rapper.

A hood rapper can kick that street talk and makes those types of records. Even though people in the hood like Drake’s records, but Drake is a lyricist. So, let’s hope that all that stuff we’ve been hearing all them years is truly from his pen. If it ain’t, it’s another Milli Vanilli moment and I hope that’s not the case.”

DJ Premier Is Friends With Drake

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 21: DJ Premiere attdends Ubiun Nightclub on November 21, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic)

“I’m really good friends with Drake. I’m great friends with 40, his producer. I just look forward to that being what it is but that ‘Back to Back’ sh-t is hot. And I’m sure he wrote that. But again, that whole thing about him not writing his rhymes, I just need more proof.

The songs that [Hot 97 DJ] Funkmaster Flex leaked out and all that, I don’t know what the answer to that is. But let’s hope those are the only references that are even left. And then on top of that, now that that cameras are on Drake, he already know he gotta prove everybody wrong and that moment was that moment and nothing further than that.”

Preemo Has Also Wanted Justin Bieber To Write His Own Raps

Justin Bieber

“The question thrown at me was, ‘Do you mind Justin Bieber being in a [BET Awards] cypher?’ I said, ’Is he gonna spit a dope joint?’ They said, ‘He can rap. He can spit some verses. He’s actually not bad.’ I said, ‘Then, I’m down.’

But then, the word was – and I don’t know how true it was – but the next word I got later after I said, ‘I’m wit’ it if he’s gonna kill it and write his own joints,’ they said it’s a possibility that Luda[cris] would write it. I said, ‘If that’s the case, hell no.’ That wasn’t said that that was gonna be, but I said, ‘If that’s the case.’”