The feature is Drake’s first extensive interview since a Rolling Stone piece published in February last year, following which he said on Twitter that he would no longer talk to magazines.
In the story, Drake addressed the issue before journalist Leon Neyfakh even had a chance to bring it up, telling him how he first heard Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex’s boasting that he had been given a number of “reference tracks” written and recorded by other rappers, proving that Drake users other writers for his material.
“I’m just gonna bring it up ’cause it’s important to me,” he said. “I was at a charity kickball game — which we won, by the way — and my brother called me. He was just like, ‘I don’t know if you’re aware, but, yo, they’re trying to end us out here. They’re just spreading, like, propaganda. Where are you? You need to come here.’ So we all circled up at the studio, and sat there as Flex went on the air, and these guys flip-flopped [about how] they were gonna do this, that, and the third.”
But when Drake recorded “Charged Up” in a night and released it on his OVO Radio Beats 1 show the next day and he didn’t get any rebuttal, he was irritated.
“This is a discussion about music, and no one’s putting forth any music?” he said. “You guys are gonna leave this for me to do? This is how you want to play it? You guys didn’t think this through at all—nobody? You guys have high-ranking members watching over you. Nobody told you that this was a bad idea, to engage in this and not have something? You’re gonna engage in a conversation about writing music, and delivering music, with me? And not have anything to put forth on the table?”
He continued, “It was weighing heavy on me. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get how there was no strategy on the opposite end. I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand it because that’s just not how we operate.”
When he followed himself up again with “Back to Back,” he saw that as finishing the thing — so he had to write a song to match that sentiment. He described his thinking, saying, “This has to literally become the song that people want to hear every single night, and it’s gonna be tough to exist during this summer when everybody wants to hear [this] song that isn’t necessarily in your favor.”
He did speak to explain the use of these reference tracks, too. He said, “I need, sometimes, individuals to spark an idea so that I can take off running. I don’t mind that. And those recordings—they are what they are. And you can use your own judgment on what they mean to you.”
“There’s not necessarily a context to them,” he added. “And I don’t know if I’m really here to even clarify it for you.”
If the whole thing creates a debate about “originality” in hip-hop, Drake said, he’s alright being at the center of that conversation.
“If I have to be the vessel for this conversation to be brought up—you know, God forbid we start talking about writing and references and who takes what from where — I’m OK with it being me,” he said. “It’s just, music at times can be a collaborative process, you know? Who came up with this, who came up with that — for me, it’s like, I know that it takes me to execute every single thing that I’ve done up until this point. And I’m not ashamed.”
Read the full piece here.