How important is it to write your own raps?
Well worn out over the past week has been the barbershop discussion of whether or not Drake writes his own bars and then whether or not that is even important and the opinions are flying all over. Let me drop in with my nickel of wisdom on the matter.
As rap has become more and more fragmented, the mainstream artists have been looked at more and more like pop artists and it has indeed become more acceptable to the masses to just make good music regardless of where the words are actually coming from. I like Kanye but I did lose a certain amount of respect when I learned that Rhymefest co-authored Jesus Walks. One, because a rapper is supposed to write his own bars, but two it was such a deep and different kind of song that seemed to reflect a personal sentiment. That therein lies the problem, hip-hop is considered the ultimate self-expression. The rhymes you hear are from the artists mouths and hearts for the most part and are taken very personally by the fans.
The thing about Drake is you have a lot of people proclaiming him on top of the game and not just because he makes good solid records (which I can admit) but they also put him as one of the top rappers in ability (I have always disagreed on that) and being called on the carpet about that is the most serious charge in rap aside from being an informant. The other people who have had songs written for them are never put in that category of top or elite artists. Bow wow, Dre, Puffy, lil Kim may sell records but as far as rap criticism they will never make the 'hall of fame'.
Now some of you may not care about that, in fact most of the public will now turn and claim that it doesn't matter to them, mostly to save face on being fooled for all of this time. The reason a guy like Drake makes it to the position he can be in is because he starts with that true underground love and respect which promotes him until he bubbles and reaches a critical mass that allows him to be a star. That love is built upon that initial idea that this is him and he makes these songs. It is critical to him becoming the man he is so for a lot of people this is a violation.
Now let's look at what is even more likely to have happened from all of the evidence, much like a singer buying a song from Ne-Yo or R. Kelly, he had a reference track which is the weirdest thing we have seen in hip-hop. That might be worse because one of the things Drake is universally lauded for is his song creation ability. If a guy is paying someone else to create the song structures and melodies then that is the thing he is known for and how can he be the man in rap? There are a lot of things that end up being bothersome about all of this at the end of the day but what I can say is that it marks a change in the way we look at and evaluate rap artists in the future.