Once upon a blue moon, rappers were not considered rappers if they didn’t know how to hold their own in a freestyle battle or just spitting rhymes off the top of the head.
Having other artist’s pen lyrics for them was simply unheard of, that of course was before Diddy decided to remove himself from behind the desk to pick up a microphone to carry on the legacy of the Notorious B.I.G. The music mogul has said on many occasions and most notably in his song “Bad Boys For Life” that he doesn’t write rhymes, he writes checks.
In a recent interview with MTV, rapper Drake mentioned that he is not a freestyle rapper but more so a writer at heart. Drake caught flak a while back after he pulled out his phone to recite pre-written lyrics when asked if he could drop a few lines, calling it a “rookie Hip-Hop moment.” He said that he admires rappers who can without a moment’s notice use their current setting and make music out of it, freestyling is not his creative process.
I’ll never forget how nervous I was,” Drake explained in an interview. “It was such a rookie hip-hop moment — and, obviously, the controversy of me pulling out my phone and rapping off my phone because I just wasn’t prepared. A lot of people don’t know the difference between freestyle or off the top and coming to a radio show knowing you got to go there, so you got verses cued up in your head, whether they be off your upcoming album or verses just that you have laying around. A lot of artists get that preparation time…I’m a writer, man. I appreciate the elements of hip-hop. I appreciate a guy like Common who goes city to city and just spits at the crowd for 10 minutes about everything he sees. I admire talent like that, because that’s just not my creative process.
Drake’s fellow Young Money label mate Nicki Minaj was also at the center of discussion when she appeared in a cypher during the BET Hip-Hop Awards last month.
Many said that her freestyle was not a freestyle and that she rehearsed her lines before appearing on camera. Though Nicki does not deny the fact that she memorized her lines, she insists that other rappers have done the same and did so in the same cypher she appeared in.