The Drake-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live was long on memorable sketches,but there was arguably none as perfectly crafted as the one that saw the Canadian rapper form some beefs withSNL stars.
For this installment of Inside the Sketch, a feature you’re seeing only on Mashable, writerWill Stephentakes us inside the making of the “Drake’s Beef,” with insight on writing the hilarious raps and how the “Hotline Bling” singer was sorta responsible for getting Lorne Michaels in on the action.
MASHABLE: This was a great sketch! How’d you come up with the idea and how did Drake a ridiculously nice Canadian react to the idea?
WILL STEPHEN: Thanks! I’ve been an embarrassingly big Drake fan for years, so I really wanted to write something rap-related for him. And after the whole Meek Mill thing, diss tracks seemed like pretty ripe territory. I liked the idea of combining that aggressive, vengeful hip-hop machismo with Drake’s famous sensitive side, and the petty office beefs concept just came out of that. I told Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin what I was thinking, and they really crafted it and added so much funny stuff. Drake liked the idea, he was very eager to make fun of himself.
Talk about writing the beef raps did you ask Drake for help with those? Or collaborate on them? And did you have a favorite line?
Tim, Zach, and I wrote them, but Drake made tweaks and reworded lines as he recorded the track. It was actually Drake’s initial idea to do that final Lorne beat, which ended up being maybe my favorite part. Either that, or the amazing improvised death stare from the cleaning lady, Nusretta (who also cleans the SNL offices in real life).
How purposeful was it for y’all not to mention any real-life beefs?
We didn’t avoid real life beefs exactly, we just thought it would be funnier if it was all based within the office.
When planning out sketches for a guest host who’s also the musical guest, what factors go into deciding how many music-based sketches to do vs. non-music based sketches? Do you try to use their abilities wisely or get in as many as you can? Does the guest host have any say about that balance?
You definitely try to write to each host’s strengths. Music is an obvious strength of Drake’s, but he can sell pretty much anything. So you write whatever you think will be funny, music or no music, and hopefully it adds some variety to the overall show which is out of your control and ultimately up to the producers and host.
Lastly, what’s the best part of writing for a guest host like Drake? And since you all have had Drake on a few times, you no doubt have gotten to know him a bit, so if you had a beef with him, what would it be over?
Well this is my first year at the show, so it was difficult to suppress my inner fanboy. The best part was probably just seeing him in rapper mode recording the song in the studio and rapping on the roof. I was obviously nervous to write rap lyrics for Drake, but he could not have been nicer. I definitely have zero beef with him.
SNL’s season finale airs this Saturday, with host Fred Armisen.
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