Drake Ghostwriting For Lil Wayne
After Meek Mill pointed out a co-writer Drake had been working with on If You're Reading This It's Too Late, collaborative writing in rap has been something of a hot topic. The more we talk about it, the more it seems the practice is, and always has been, commonplace in the genre, often among some of the biggest stars in the game.
According to author Karrine Steffans, Drake and Lil Wayne have also shared a few bars. Steffans, who has dated Weezy on and off, told VladTV of Wayne's admission that Drizzy had helped him pen a song, though it remained nameless.
“Wayne told me that Drake had written some things, for him,” she said. “I was in the studio with Wayne listening to something that Drake had written ’cause Wayne can’t write like that. And he’ll be honest about it. He only writes a certain way.”
Weezy is generally known to have a more spontaneous style compared to Drake's carefully structured bars, reportedly telling Karrine that the OVO rapper helped him switch up his approach.
“He was very honest," she explained. "‘I don’t write that way. I don’t know how.’ So Drake was just kind of showing him how to take his ideas and turn them into a story, and to make that story come back around. And that’s a skill. That’s a storytelling skill. [Not] everybody can do that. There was a particular song that Drake had written or helped him write that would help him do that.”
We may never know which song Weezy was referring to here (or if he was credited), but after Drake lifted Wayne's melody for "Best I Ever Had," it only makes sense for him to return the favor.
Drake and Meek Mill’s simmering beef centers on charges that the Canadian rapper/crooner has someone else penning his mega-hits. While the claims may seem out-of-the-blue to some, Drake is no stranger to ghostwriting charges in the past. We explore four notable rumors.
Ghostwriting in hip-hop is nothing new. Notable instances include Nas penning Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” Jay Z writing Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.,” and Pharoahe Monch contributing in-full to Diddy’s “The Future.” However, every once in a while it’s used to discredit someone by claiming that their star status in music is nothing more than a facade. Nicki Minaj notably insinuated that Iggy Azalea used ghostwriters when accepting a BET Award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist in 2014, saying, “What I want the world to know about Nicki Minaj is when you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it.”
Drake now finds himself embroiled in hip-hop’s latest ghostwriting controversy after Meek Mill took to Twitter to accuse the OVO head-honcho of having someone else – Quentin Miller – pen the song “10 Bands” from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late as well as on their own collaboration, “R.I.C.O.,” from Mill’s 205 project Dreams Worth More Than Money.
Funkmaster Flex added further credibility to Mill’s claims after playing a two-minute snippet of Miller’s “10 Bands” reference track. Flex also claimed that Miller received $5,000 USD a month for his work for the label.
During a Pinkprint tour stop in Virginia a day after, Meek addressed his recent tweets, saying, “Don’t get it twisted. I was just upset as a fan that a n*gga gave me a verse that he [Drake] didn’t write. Shout out to Drake. Let him be great in all the mothafucking lanes he great in. But I’m gon’ still be the realest nigga in this bitch!”
With Drake still mum on the allegations, we’ve looked into the past for other indications whether or not Mill’s claims are true. Besides Quentin Miller, three other names have been attached to Drake and rumors of employing ghostwriters.
In 2014, an unnamed Toronto woman supposedly hired prominent attorney Gloria Allred to help her bring a suit against Drake with charges that she had written many of his more “sensitive-sounding” songs. Ultimately, the pending litigation was nothing more than MediaTakeOut lies.
However, Drake didn’t get out of the situation completely unscathed. Many people began to look at Toronto-based songwriter, Shi Wisdom, as someone who could have been the potential plaintiff had the suit been in fact real. Having helped pen Rita Ora’s “R.I.P.” with Drake, Noisey decided to get to the bottom of the rumors that she had written for Drake himself – and why she had chosen to publicly bring attention to the “lawsuit” at a time when it was still a viable story.
“I like to see where people’s heads are at,” she told Noisey. “When I posted the original article speaking about this Toronto woman, it didn’t say it was me, and I didn’t say it wasn’t me. I just wanted to see what people were thinking about it. Not even an hour later, there’s another post that comes up with my face on it saying that it’s me. I didn’t feel the need to even address the issue in terms of validating whether or not it’s true with just anybody. You’re the first publication I’ve actually openly said that this is not me, because I’m already a credible writer. I wrote a song with this person. My name is in the pamphlet alongside his. I am not a ghostwriter. I have never been a ghostwriter.”
Richmond, VA native Nickelus F rose to prominence on BET’s 106th and Park “Freestyle Friday” segment where he won seven weeks in a row – ultimately being enshrined in their “Hall of Fame” in 2007.
By 2010, Nickelus had fallen into the daily routines of a more traditional 9-5 – working at Terminex as an exterminator. “I hope to be out of it soon, but that’s what I do,” he told Complex. “Just the other day I was crawling underneath a house and my head bumped a dead rat that landed right in front of me, a big one. It’s a regular thing. I crawl under houses and face a snake and all that.”
Nickelus and Drake first met through MySpace. “He said he liked my music and wanted to do a record. It was the ‘Money’ record,” he recalled. When Complex explicitly asked if he had written verses for Drake he said, “Yes, I have done a verse. Not a bunch of verses. I have helped out with hooks and one verse in particular. But I don’t write no verses for him.” When pressed further on which verse he wrote he responded, “Yeah, it’s well known. I don’t know if I necessarily want to put that out there. That’s my homie at the end of the day.”
The rumor is that Nickelus F wrote Drake’s “I’m Goin’ In” verse on on his 2009 EP So Far Gone.
Memphis rapper Kia Shine owns a portion of one of Drake’s breakout hits, “Best I Ever Had.” Many experts suggest it’s because he produced a song for Lil Wayne called “Do if For The Boy” in which Wayne’s first verse seems to be the reference for Drake’s melody on “Best I Ever Had.”
He recently took to Twitter to say that no one believed him when he said that he had penned “Best I Ever Had.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone that Quentin Miller has been accused of writing “R.I.C.O.” on Meek Mill’s album. His name appears in the song’s credits. Miller is also credited with helping write five songs off of Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – “10 Bands,” “Know Yourself,” “No Tellin,” “Used To,” and “6 Man.”
The issue with ghostwriting charges is that Drake clearly has a history of working with Miller. There’s a very fine line between “helping” someone and not receiving credit, and writing an entire song for someone and being paid to remain silent about it. As of right now, Miller remains a documented songwriter for Drake.
Frequent Drake collaborator Noah “40” Shebib took to Twitter yesterday to comment on the situation, typing, “I’ve spent maybe 30 min in a studio with Q. Nice enough guy, very talented… If your [sic] asking if he contributed to ‘if you’re reading this’… Yes, he did. You can also see that by reading the credits.”
Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.