When Drake Was 19, He Was Paid Thousands To Ghostwrite For Dr. Dre

01.14.16 9 months ago • 19 Comments

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Like Jay Z before him, Drake has also had his credibility as a rapper questioned. Back then, it was Nas loudly — and I hate to admit, hi-freaking-lariously — wondering “how many of Biggie’s lines were going to come out of Jay’s fat lips.” This prompted the oft-recited comeback line on “What More Can I Say.” These days it’s Meek relentlessly bothering Drake for allegedly using a ghostwriter, but like Mr. Carter, Drake’s not a biter — he’s a writer for himself and others.

In his recently released book, The Song Machine: Inside The Hit Factory, journalist John Seabrook claims that Champagne Papi himself lent his pen game to Dr. Dre when he was just a kid starting at the bottom. The book features a particular quote from Drake, who says Dre put him in something that sounded like a sweatshop. “It was some of the most strenuous militant sh*t I’ve ever done,” says Drake. “But no useable songs came out of it. When I think of how he worked us, it’s no wonder he didn’t get anything out of it. It was just writers in a room churning out product all day long.”

The story was confusing at first, because Seabrook wrote that Drake was working at Death Row. This didn’t make any sense because the Canadian rapper was 10 when Dre left the infamous label in 1996. Nathan S. of DJ Booth reached out to Seabrook and got some clarification:

I reached out to Seabrook to confirm, and in an email he wrote that while Drake didn’t specify exact years, he told Seabrook that when he was “like 19” (so somewhere around 2005) he and his production and songwriting partner Noah “40” Shebib did indeed move out to L.A. to work as songwriters, but for Dr. Dre at Aftermath Records, not Suge Knight at Death Row Records, which around 2005 would have been in the process of shutting down as a label. And according to Seabrook, Drake told him they were paid $10,000 for their work and lived at the Oakwood Apartments, a complex with a well-earned reputation in L.A. as being filled with child actors and other naive entertainment industry hopefuls just arriving in the city of angels.

The clarification lines up with Drake telling former soccer star Rio Ferdinand in 2011 about the $10,000 check he received from the producer for “being there.”

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(Via DJ Booth)

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