Skip to main content

Here Are the Surprise Songwriters on the Hot 100, Thanks to Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’

Drake's new album "Certified Lover Boy" is full of cameos, credits and interpolations. From Paul McCartney and John Lennon to Justin Timberlake, Christopher Cross and more, several longtime hitmakers…

Drake‘s new album Certified Lover Boy is full of cameos, credits and interpolations. From Paul McCartney and John Lennon to Justin Timberlake, Christopher Cross and more, several longtime hitmakers make returns to the Billboard Hot 100 (dated Sept. 18) — including in the top 10 — via writing credits on the set.

Certified Lover Boy debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 613,000 equivalent album units, according to MRC Data, the biggest weekly total of 2021. Meanwhile, the album’s “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug, launches at No. 1 on the Hot 100, heading up Drake’s weekly-record nine songs in the top 10.


Here’s a look at some of the notable names on the album, in order of their ranks on the latest Hot 100.

Right Said Fred’s Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass, No. 1

The Fairbrass brothers are each credited as writers on “Way 2 Sexy,” which reworks Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” a three-week No. 1 in 1992. “Way 2 Sexy” is the third iteration of the song to top the Hot 100, following the original and Taylor Swift’s 2017 three-week leader “Look What You Made Me Do,” which also interpolates the cheeky composition.

Babyface, No. 3

The famed R&B vet has a writing credit on “Fair Trade,” as it reintroduces Charlotte Day Wilson’s 2019 song “Mountains,” which Babyface co-wrote.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, No. 4

The two Beatles are credited as writers on “Champagne Poetry,” which samples Masego’s 2017 song “Navajo,” which in turn takes from the Fab Four’s Grammy Award-winning 1965 song “Michelle.” You’ll recognize a remixed McCartney singing, “I love you, I love you, I love you/ That’s all I want to say/ Until I find a way/ I will say the only words I know that you’ll understand.”

The late Lennon ranks in the Hot 100’s top 10 as a writer for the first time since January 1996, when The Beatles’ “Free as a Bird” became the group’s 34th and most recent top 10, reaching No. 6. Covers of Beatles and Lennon’s solo songs have hit the Hot 100 over the past decade, including by the Glee Cast, John Legend and Adam Levine.

McCartney scores his first top 10 Hot 100 entry as a writer since the No. 4-peaking “FourFiveSeconds,” on which he’s also credited as an artist, with Rihanna and Kanye West, in 2015.


Juicy J, A$AP Rocky, No. 5

The two rappers are listed as writers on “Knife Talk,” which reworks Juicy J’s 2017 track “Feed the Streets,” featuring Rocky and Project Pat.

Montell Jordan, No. 8

Jordan, who crowned the Hot 100 for seven weeks in 1995 with “This Is How We Do It,” sports a writing credit on “Papi’s Home,” which samples his track “Daddy’s Home,” from his This Is How We Do It LP.

Justin Timberlake, No. 9

The solo star and former *NSYNC member is listed as a writer on “TSU,” which contains two of his works: His 2006 solo single “Until the End of Time” (No. 17, 2007) and *NSYNC’s 1998 cover of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” (see more, below).

Timberlake earns his highest charting entry as a writer since 2019, as he’s a credited co-writer on Halsey’s two-week No. 1 “Without Me,” which interpolates his “Cry Me a River” (No. 3, 2003).

Timbaland, No. 9

Timbaland notches a writing credit on “TSU,” as he co-wrote Timberlake’s “Until the End of Time.” “TSU” earns Timbaland his second top 10 credit on the Hot 100 this year alone, as he co-wrote and co-produced J. Cole’s “Amari” (No. 5 peak in May).

Christopher Cross, No. 9

As noted above, the easy listening star returns to the Hot 100 thanks to the “TSU” update of “Sailing,” which spent a week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in August 1980.

Cross had last logged a Hot 100 entry as a writer via Puff Daddy’s “Best Friend,” featuring Mario Winans, Hezekiah Walker and The Love Fe (No. 59, 2000). His last credit to climb as high as No. 9 was his own “Think of Laura” in 1984, the most recent of his four top 10s and eight top 40 hits as a recording artist.

(R. Kelly is also credited as a writer on “TSU,” as the track contains a sample of his 1998 song “Half on a Baby.” Kelly is currently on federal trial for sex trafficking and racketeering charges, and Drake’s use of the sample has drawn sharp criticism.)


The Notorious B.I.G., Nos. 10 & 18

The late hip-hop icon scores two writing credits on Certified Lover Boy: on “Love All” (No. 10) and “Race My Mind” (No. 18). The former samples “Life After Death (Intro)” from his 1997 LP Life After Death, while the latter reworks his “Hope You Niggas Sleep,” featuring Cash Money Millionaires; while “Sleep” never charted, it’s from his LP Born Again, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 1999.

Biggie had last appeared on the Hot 100 as a writer in 2018, thanks to Meek Mill’s “What’s Free,” featuring Rick Ross and Jay-Z (No. 20). The track samples Life After Death‘s “What’s Beef?” He had last ranked in the top 10 as a writer in 2014 via Chris Brown’s “Loyal” (No. 9), which interpolates his 1997 No. 1 “Mo Money Mo Problems,” featuring Puff Daddy and Mase.

Sean Combs/P. Diddy, No. 10

The veteran star is credited as a writer on “Love All” (No. 10), as he co-penned The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Life After Death (Intro).” His most recent prior top 10 appearance as a writer was also on “Loyal,” as he is likewise credited on “Mo Money Mo Problems.”

Bobby DeBarge, Gregory Williams, No. 11

DeBarge and Williams, of the band Switch, each show as writers on “No Friends in the Industry,” which samples Switch’s 1979 single “I Call Your Name.” The song reached No. 83 on the Hot 100 in 1980. DeBarge, who died in 1995, was also a member of his sibling group DeBarge, which notched three top 10s among six top 40 hits.


Bun B, Jay-Z, Jeezy, Pimp C, Z-Ro, No. 12

All five rappers score writing credits on “N 2 Deep,” which samples their 2005 track “Get Throwed.” The track is from Bun B’s debut solo LP Trill, which hit No. 6 on the Billboard 200 in 2005.

Jay-Z also boasts a writing and featured credit on “Love All,” which marks his 22nd Hot 100 top 10 as an artist, as he becomes one of two acts with top 10s in the 1990s, 2000s, ’10s and 2020s. He reaches the top 10 as a writer for a second straight week, following Kanye West’s No. 10-peaking “Jail.”

Rick James, No. 18

“Race My Mind” contains a portion of James’ 1981 dance hit “Give It to Me Baby,” which reached No. 40 on the Hot 100.

Sun Ra, No. 18
The legendary free jazz composer and bandleader also notches a writing credit on “Race My Mind,” as it additionally interpolates his 1980 song “Rumpelstiltskin.”

The song is Sun Ra’s second career entry on the Hot 100, following a songwriting credit on Lady Gaga’s “Venus” in 2013 (No. 32). The track contains a sample of Zombie Zombie’s cover of Ra’s “Rocket Number 9,” which appears on his 1966 LP Interstellar Low Ways.