“Whatever You Need to Do”: Talib Kweli Defends Drake, Ghostwriting in Rap

By | Posted August 14, 2017
"When I heard about the [Drake] ghostwriting stuff, I'm like, 'Ohhhh, ohhhhh.' It made me want to get some damn ghostwriters."
Photo Credit: Dorothy Hong/Instagram

Talib Kweli recently sat down for an in-depth interview with multi-Platinum audio engineer Daniel Wyatt at his Mix:Master Academy, and during their 90-minute exchange, which covered President Trump, Kanye and the future of hip-hop, among other topics that were discussed, Kweli came out in defense of Drake's employment of ghostwriters and the utilization of ghostwriters by rappers in general.

"I don't have a problem with ghostwriters because, to me, the song is king," said Kweli. "Whatever you need to do to make the song hot, do it. You need to bring in another emcee? Do it."

We last published an article involving Drake and the ghostwriting versus songwriting debate in December 2015, but since then, countless artists, like Kweli, have come to Drake's defense, including Logic and BJ The Chicago Kid

Some hip-hop fans might be surprised to hear that a rap veteran of 20+ years would endorse the use of ghostwriters, but Kweli added some much-needed perspective on the controversial topic:

"When I heard about Drake and OVO having these writing camps, and I heard the original version of songs he did, it didn't make me respect Drake less—it made me respect myself more. I'm looking at Drake and I'm like, 'The fuck? How are you this productive and this proficient? How are you this good? How are you this good, bro?' I'm going to Drake shows and looking around like, 'What is going on here?' When I see an artist doing as well as Drake, it makes me want to do better. I'm looking at Drake, like, 'I've gotta get on my grind.' So when I heard about the ghostwriting stuff, I'm like, 'Ohhhh, ohhhhh.' It made me want to get some damn ghostwriters."

Let's read between the lines, shall we?

Talib doesn't have a problem with rap artists who bring in outside help for rhyme writing because, not only does he see the value in collaboration if the end result is a hit song, but the practice itself also offers much-needed perspective for those who refuse to do the same. 

It's a fool's errand to try and convince a tried and true hip-hop head that the employment of a ghostwriter for anything but a hook or a bridge on a rap record isn't sacrilegious and a disgrace to the culture, but at the end of the day, for many artists, it's not about unwritten rules or respect—it's about cultural relevance and hits. And the quickest way to create both in 2017 is by working with as many talented people as you can cram into a studio or a house

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