Hip Hop

Drake Explains Hot97 Freestyle (Audio)

blame it on Shake November 9, 2009

Aubrey speaks with MTV about the Drakeberry incident that went down back in April.

“I’ll never forget the night, man, when I went up to Hot 97, and it wasn’t scheduled,” Drake explained. “It wasn’t like, you know, ‘Drake’s coming up here Tuesday.’ It was literally like, ‘Funk Flex wants to meet you,’ and bam, like, two seconds later, it was like, ‘Let’s go on the radio and just kill New York.’ I’ll never forget how nervous I was. It was such a rookie hip-hop moment — and, obviously, the controversy of me pulling out my phone and rapping off my phone because I just wasn’t prepared. A lot of people don’t know the difference between freestyle or off the top and coming to a radio show knowing you got to go there, so you got verses cued up in your head, whether they be off your upcoming album or verses just that you have laying around. A lot of artists get that preparation time.”

Drake said the moment was an important steppingstone.

“That moment, just as far as hip-hop, as far as MCing goes, that moment was one of those … it was just, ‘Whoa! I’m really here and I got to get better. I got get to be better than this. I can never be caught off guard again,’ ” Drake said. “That was probably one of the most interesting moments of my life this year. I’m a writer, man. I appreciate the elements of hip-hop. I appreciate a guy like Common who goes city to city and just spits at the crowd for 10 minutes about everything he sees. I admire talent like that, because that’s just not my creative process. So, you know, as far as moments this year go, though, I’ve had amazing stories. I don’t want to tell them all in interviews, because then Thank Me Later will just be empty, so I think I’m going to tell them in this album as vivid as I possibly can.”

  • octobersveryown.blogspot.com

  • Its ya Boi

    he speaks truth

  • Kurbstomp

    fruit this nigga!

  • TC The Prince

    a freestyle is really not suppose to b prethought, prewritten just straight from the dome theres been plenty of rap cats didnt know they was goin to rap when they got to radio stations or wuever but even under the pressure still came wit somethin sick, so the explanation for me is a fail but cant knock em

  • Thomas

    There’s not many artist that can go straight off the dome. Not many people have that skill…I’m not mad at him.

  • GQ

    I’m a Drake fan but if you want to call yourself a rapper, you have to be prepared at any moment to rap. There’s no such thing as unprepared. Doesn’t matter if it’s written or not. Rapping is rapping. Now, if you’re a STUDIO rapper, and you need time to look for a verse and check your hair and make up, then I just don’t know what to say. Yeah, I put extras on it.

  • Jonnie Hayward The IV

    This Lupe QUOTE OF THE DAY is better than any pre-written verse Drake has ever spit:

    The truth is limitless in its range, if you drop a T and look at it in reverse it could hurt

  • wordtobigbird


    who gives a fuck.. if he rapped off his blackberry, it was the RADIO. remember when slaugherhouse all wrote some rhymes write in the studio?

  • i mean the explanations is definitely weak but give dude a break. very, very few rappers can actually spit dope shit off the top. let alone without prep time. seriously i hear all these so called freestyles and i just think, “so which song will i hear that on?” good freestyle rapping is pretty hard. its a lost art that even the best in hip-hop out there cant do.

  • TVA

    Real Freestyling is a lost art. You can normally tell based on the ease of how it’s coming out of whether or not it’s a REAL freestyle. his delivery should have told you, there was no hesitation because their was no construction going on in his mind. Same thing you’d see all the time on Rap City in the booth. You knew all of those weren’t freestyles. They were prewrittens that they had ready cause they knew where they were going. It was disheartening when they showed the video but not completely unexpected. Like with the BET cyphers other than KRS thems writtens

  • wordtobigbird

    if there was no camera in the booth wouldnt no one know enough to care.

  • wow.
    why bring this up again.
    most of his fans almost forgot

  • Adam Molina

    I used to judge Drake for that until i saw my fav. MC do the same shit on the making of Film, Nas. So now im just “as long as it sounds good”

  • Benny Blanco from Da BriX

    This guy is such a fuckin fabrication, beyond the blackberry. His mic skills ain’t that good & just watch the whole Funk Flex video, the guy is a lame ass dude. I don’t understand the love he gets from guys, I can understand the females cuz females tend to like certain pussy niggaz like him, but he gets no respect from real dudes tho, fuck him.

  • juno40

    Who da fuk cares. Shit I seen niggaz read off of a 2way onstage! Off da head or written memorised or not a hot rhyme is a hot rhyme.

  • this just proves hes not an MC.

  • Booooo!!!!!!! So many rappers do the same thing! Remember Royce on the DOA beat with Slaughterhouse? Yeah he said sorry and redid the shit later. Shit still sounded like a thought out thing not really pre written but thought out. I still like the rappers but freestyles aren’t the same thing anymore they are more thought out now.

  • Why does the freestyle have to be a lost art – if you’re a writer, then one should be familiar with free-form writing where you just write what comes into the mind to get the juices flowing; so writing shouldn’t be a plausible excuse, it should make you greater IMO.

  • dza

    Who cares. People will go on with their lives regardless so keep it moving.

  • soo

    I was going to give drake a pass but I just watched the video again and he asked Funk Flex to play a beat so he could rap. Why would you ask for a beat knowing that you’re unprepared? FAIL.

  • k

    lol @ shaping the meaning of freestyle to his liking. Just say he fucked up, can’t freestyle and move on. There are still plenty of people who can do it 10000x better regardless

  • marlymarrr

    And does this explain why he didn’t freestyle? No. Lots of artists don’t do it anymore but don’t try and justify it.

  • The Fucking Truth

    I hope 2DopeRadio has installed some Drakeberry Detectors, cause you don’t want any prethough freestyles crashing your radio station

  • FartIntoTheAutoTune

    actual freestyles seem to be a lost art in hip hop … smh

  • Jonnie Hayward The IV

    Agree with Benny Blanco..Drake is corny with the personality and all but who cares..that has nothin to do with rappin..and whoever says Drake doesn’t have good mic skills should listen to his Comeback Season mixtape..listen to Faded or Share..

    See, I couldn’t walk the walk, couldn’t really talk the talk
    Had to get my talk to properly explain my walk’
    Cause this lack in talk had my walk looking off
    Now I’m over the limp
    Watch how they mugs drop when they see my Verbal’s able
    (That’s the Usual)

    (Any1 that’s seen the classic movie Usual Suspects will understand this)

  • Wait. What?

    When has it ever been acceptable for an artist to not be prepared?
    If an ’emcee’ can’t freestyle, then said ’emcee’ is not an emcee at all.
    That’s like; you might be tight on cd at first, but if you’re wack at a show, then you’re wack everywhere else.

    Freestyling is key to the culture.

    As for Drizzy: he just exposed what’s wrong with the industry (amongst other things).
    The majors don’t take the time to develop their artists anymore. This is why there’s a myriad of acts that are suffocating the industry.

    It’s a great formula, but it doesn’t make for great music.

    I respect Drake for owning up to it, but…^^Kurbstomp said it best!

  • BSP
  • koolassninja

    at the end of the day he’s making good music (for the most part)

  • b.


  • Mike

    I’ve started rapping, and there’s no way I can do it straight off the top. If you give me 20 seconds I can do an entire verse in my head. But I can’t do it without thinking about it first. And it doesn’t surprise me that Drake can’t, either. This doesn’t change my opinion at all, he’s still dope as fuck.

  • longstroke

    yea this is ass old news. sounds like another way to try n bash this guy. 95%of rappers cnt freestyle. n in that i mean rite off the top. its dissapointing but it’s true. i knew b4 tht video tht he culdnt freestyle its almost obvious… i dnt belive any pre-written or written shit shuld be called a freestyle. i hate wen people claim they freestyle then spit a wriiten verse.i’ve been rappin since i was 12 so i guess its second nature to me at 19 to be able to freestyle very well. besides i dont write anyway i freestyle a lot of my music. but writing always makes it better cuz yo can meditate over your words and rethink them. bottomline drakes still dope leave dude alone.

  • ^^
    cosign of the century!

  • bean balls

    drake cool but i ran across some crazy shit hottest tape on the net had to shutdown my computer n let it cool off after i downloaded it shit is retarded here go the link http://usershare.net/glp1or68lhqy

  • basically nowadays, when people go to a radio station and they say ‘kick a freestyle’, it just means ‘spit a verse for us’. the rapper can decide whether they want to go off the top (which is rarely) or just take a prewritten and prepared verse. In the end, hip hop is an art. sure freestyling is a skill that most people don’t have and needs to be respected, I’d much rather hear an artist’s song that he took time and wrote instead of stepped in the booth and just spit whatever first occured to him

  • Jonnie Hayward The IV

    Yea the more u practice freestyling the easier it gets and the thoughts and words come to u more naturally on the spot and they start to flow better as if ur alredy spittin a verse…I usually start off slow wen I freestyle then it gets better or even if wat I’m rappin is corny I can pick up da flow easily as if it were any verse

  • dhddjh

    He’s talking about how that was a “rookie” moment? Drake uve had a lot of rookie moments man, quit fallin on stage and shit. I still can’t believe anybody supports this faggot after all the gay ass songs he’s put out. Kid is a tool.

  • lolwut

    There needs to be word to distinguish between just spitting lines/verses an MC has written or thought about before, and actually coming off the top, people are getting the word ‘freestyle’ mistaken. I’m not too up-to-date on new artists but the only relatively new rapper that I’ve heard who’s able to actually go off the top well is Charles Hamilton.

  • I read some very good points in this C-Section that I agree with. Freestyling IS a lost art. Most rappers (even Jay-Z on his last appearance at Rap City) perform pre-written verses and/or verses that will show up on their next album or project. Also, the whole idea is bittersweet, because stuff like SMACK DVD has tainted the new generation’s perception of “freestyling.” There’s a bunch of guys on there rapping for 20 minutes, tossing their actual opponents name in here or there into their already pre-written verses with punchline after punchline that seems all too perfect and usually not even about the person they are battling.

    So now, when you see someone freestyle FORREAL off the top of the dome, most people be like “Oh, this is wack”, cuz it’s sometimes sloppy and just improv. That’s the problem

    The moral of the story for new rappers who really don’t have the confidence to just forget what people think and spit like Cudi or Asher (Who went in on some RANDOM, but ACUTAL freestyle stuff), I suggest you just memorize some dope freeverses and don’t read them off pieces of paper, phones or Blackberrys.

  • yes Drake! Just keep it real and let em know, you a writer not the best freestyler, 2 different arts/talents/gifts both are respected because there are ALOT of freestylers who can’t make a song thus why they remain unsigned, unrecorded and on the block. I respect you SO much for that response man THANK YOU lol being a writer myself lol

  • KSEE

    for some reason i never truly feel its a legit freestyle unless they bring up something/someone around them at that moment…something they couldnt have planned ahead of time…but like drake said they ALL do it…the homie kept it real

  • 123

    Dude spend a that time when he coulda just said ‘I’m not a complete MC.’

    Those were excuses. A rapper should be able to spit on moment’s notice. Dude tryna make it seem as if everybody spits writtens. This ain’t about them, it’s about you, duke.

    Dude needs to get his bars up. He can’t freestyle and has the stage presence of a crippled R&B singer…[edlower]C’mon Son[edlover/]

  • I call my blackberry my trackberry bc I write all my verses out in it and that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re straight crack.

    This shits some old news just leave drake alone
    None of his fans give a fuck that he rapped off his phone

    I wrote that off the top so fuck you who say freestylings so damn hard and extinct n shit

  • I call my blackberry my trackberry bc I write all my verses out in it and that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re straight crack.

    This shits some old news just leave drake alone
    None of his fans give a fuck that he rapped off his phone

    I wrote that off the top in less than five seconds so fuck you who say freestylings so damn hard and extinct n shit


    Drake is a mediocre rapper at best and not an emcee, obviously. However he wants to “explain” it, he’s not the caliber of emcee people think. Could he ever be? Sure. Not now though. As far as him being a “writer”, he hasn’t really shown a whole lot of depth so it’s difficult to digest that, same flow, cadence, pitch, limited subject matter, write some classic shit, not a radio hit.PEACE

  • The Fucking Truth

    Its one thing to memorize your verse, but to have that shit ready on your Blackberry is just plain wack.

    Plus Drake has semi fallen off, cept for Fear everything post So Far Gone really doesn’t have substance like his old music has. All he talks about now is how he can get any lady, how much better he is than everyone, and how he’s so deep but nobody understands him.

    Drake has become Lil Wayne jr., so I guess he’s like Birdman III

  • Did I miss something?

    Is there now a difference btwn Freestyle and “off the top?”

  • qp

    Yeah, freestyling is an lost art form. I appreciate those who actually try to freestyle off the head and try to make sense like when Charles Hamilton and Asher Roth did that freestyle for XXLmag. Hell even CuDi tries to freestyle (even though he’s not the best at it.) As for Drake, it was a rookie moment because he should have already have a couple verses memorized if he is going to spit writtens. But yeah a hot verse is a hot verse. Even though I would like to believe that Lupe’s “freestyle” on RapCity and the BET cypher were off the head, they was not.

  • drakes a disney c

    when i listen to music i take away something deep the artist has to say…i dont wanna know what deep shit drake was thinkin when he was doin lines for degrassi


    it was all good a cpl months ago…i still think Drake can rap better than sing. whats funny is u got these rappers who have been rapping waaay longer than Drake but he sounds 10x better than them..lol WONDER WHY?????????????

  • Forward

    Originally, in Old School Hip-Hop, the term ‘freestyle’ referred to a pre-written rap verse that was not on any particular subject matter and was just written for the purpose of demonstrating skill. The term is still occasionally used in this way, though the majority of today’s artists use it to mean improvised rapping.

  • lol

    This guys a fucking crumb. He is not a MC – PERIOD. Thats why. Keep singing little boy.

  • Drake never tried to be a freestyle type of artist. You don’t have to be able to freestyle to be considered a great rapper. So if he chooses to spit some writtens whats the big deal?

  • D. $cience

    I think the term “Freestyle” gets way out of context, causing confusion. I know the terms “Freestyle” and “Freeverse”. Freeverse is like unrhymed or rhymed poetry, but it flows and the patterns blend with the subject. Freestyle, to my knowledge, is really a free style, meaning you can come off the top, or it can be pre-written. Hell, a freestyle can be you just hyping up the cipher with ad-libs. As long as you move the crowd and you come off dope and fresh, it doesn’t matter how technical you define a “Freestyle”.

    And BTW, I’m not sticking up for Drake, for I too think he’s just corny. I’m just keeping it real.

    Just sayin’.

  • YunG MoneY

    dog all u n8ggaz r dum az fuk, if u rly think drake corny u shuld listen 2 another style of music cuz his lyrics r killin all those wack ass rappers u b namin lyk lupe he trash dats y he makin a tv show cuz nobody buys his records n he broke az hell, drake iz prolly 1 of tha most creative rappers besides wayne and jay z, u actually hav 2 think bout where he comin from, he aint a trap star n he aint tryna b he jus puttin out music bout wats on his mind and 2 me dats wats real

  • Richy

    ^^ This dude above me calls everyone dumb as fuck, when he can’t even use the simple rules of Grammar. Drake is a fruit.