Drew Medway attended the Yale Young Global Scholars Program in summer 2016. At 17, he became a force to be reckoned with when it came to courtyard rap battles. He talked to me about taking losses in his stride, his love for comedy, and his own recipe for confidence-boosts. I found him to be both positive and quick on his feet, as well as extremely genuine as a person!
I've heard so much about you, you're almost legendary! What's the key to spitting fire, destroying the opposition, and hyping up the crowd?
In my opinion, it’s a mixture of creativity, a sense of humour, and quick thinking. Think about the type of message/roast you want to make, and then form the rhyme around it. Rhyming isn’t too complex, but making the rhymes actually have significance is the harder part, and just takes a lot of practice. Another great thing about rap battles is that everyone there has voluntarily set himself up to be insulted, so you don’t have to hold back. Size them up, set them up, and then end their careers. As for hyping up the crowd, it’s all in the delivery of lines, and building a persona for yourself. If I read a 2pac song in monotone it would probably bore people to sleep, so work in the dramatic pauses and emphasis.
Ever lost a battle?
I am very competitive and there used to be a nagging fear of losing a rap battle. I realized though that this fear is exactly the opposite of how I wanted these battles to be. These battles should be fun for everyone, the winner, the loser, and the crowd. So yeah, I’ve lost before, but when someone does utterly roast me I just laugh, because that’s the purpose of this whole thing.
Wow, now I feel ready to face one of those battles myself. I've heard you also love comedy, is that true?
I’m a strong believer in making people laugh, because I realize that not everything in our lives can be happy, because we live in a real world with real problems. In my mind, approaching this with a tough skin and a smile makes everything far easier. I express this belief through cracking jokes and spitting bars, because everyone deserves a moment detached from the cynicism around them, and I think these things help provide that. However, I don’t necessarily think we should accept our world for the way it is, and I am passionate about using my creativity, sense of humour, and other talents to both fix the problems we see around us.
Are you involved in any activities at school?
There's two youth boards, one of which I am president of. I do Tae Kwon Do, I'm a second degree black belt, and I've started teaching. I commit to mentoring middle-schoolers at my school, and work on my hobby - creative writing.
Great! So, do you have any advice for people who want to gain confidence, better themselves? Find their own voices?
1. I know this is a cliché, but just don’t focus on what others think of you. Letting petty insults get to you will just lead to a cycle of self-confidence issues. When confronted with a tough situation or problem, find the humour in it, and show that to others.
2. Nobody is perfect, but if you can own your flaws then no one else can take advantage of them. And if you express yourself, flaws and all, you will make friends and make a name for yourself.
3. Find your voice, and use it. Halfway through my program at Yale this summer I knew only a small group of people. I took a chance and expressed myself in a rap battle, and within an hour I had people I barely knew telling me how I was a god. Granted, I’m not a god, but it’s proof that people might love your weird quirks when you voice them.
That's useful advice. As a wrap up question, can you tell me where you see yourself in 15 years?
I’ve always dreamed of being a part of the next big innovation, so ideally I see myself using my talents in a company (or maybe even working as the head of a company) that is striving to make real social change. However, I don’t want to just retreat into a company. I want to use my social status to send out a message - I'm yet to figure out what specific message.