Ghostwriting & Respect

This week Meek Mill went in on Twitter about Drake having a ghostwriter. When’s the last time we’ve heard something like this about a mainstream artist? We know that some Rappers have had someone come up with a line but to have the hottest Rapper on radio being called out for not being original is a big deal. In the past we’ve heard variations about how much a ghostwriter should be writing. Even though Drake credited the writers in his album sleeve but since people don’t buy albums anymore they don’t read the credits. GZA and RZA wrote O.D.B.’s first album so how does that make you feel? O.D.B. isn’t considered one of the greatest emcees of all time but he’s still considered a top tier emcee as a member of the WuTang Clan. There’ve been rumors that Nas gets lines from his brother Jungle and Jay Electronica. We know Jay Z wrote for Foxy Brown but the list goes on and on. Some people want to use the “Beyoncé theory” and compare her not giving credit to the “ghosts” on her albums. You can’t really compare Rap music and R&B/Pop because it’s kind of a given for a singer to get songs from others. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was written by Dolly Parton. Which is why it pays more to be the writer instead of the artist although; ghostwriters get a lump sum and keep it moving without publishing or any type of credit.

There are plenty of Rappers that everyone knows has ghostwriters. Diddy and Dr. Dre for example have what I call the ‘producer’s excuse’. Pretty much any producer that raps probably has a ghostwriter. The real question is how much is too much ghostwriting? I can understand if an artist needs some help filling in the blanks but not a full blown song. Saying that a particular artist has a ghostwriter can be detrimental to their Rap career and being on the outside of the industry’s velvet rope can make things blurry for some fans. You can lose fans with allegations like that but the core fans will ride with you. I mean they’ve been riding this hard for so long they probably feel the same pressure to continue their fandom. A lot of industry people keep mentioning that they knew Drake had a ghostwriter yet still consider him to be the hottest Rapper out right now. If someone else writes his raps doesn’t that make the ghostwriter the hottest Rapper out right now? Why not skip the middle man and put the ghostwriter on? Marketability. If we can make money off of you we don’t want to hear from you. In an industry built on respect and competition ghostwriting has to be kept to a minimal. Emcee Lupe Fiasco posted an open letter to his IG account discussing his thought on the recent ghostly allegations. The main point was that if you’re a serious emcee write like one and if not it’s cool have fun and do your thing!

What it all really boils down to be is respect. That’s why Rappers have to be the hottest. That’s why battle rappers rap. That’s why we love Hip Hop because it is a respectable art form created by us and for us. There’s no respect in having someone write your rhymes. Hip Hop/Rap music has always been about authenticity. That’s honesty and realness combined. If you aren’t writing your raps you must be a liar and some of these Rappers have ghostwriters that are barely keeping them in the game. These are the same ghostwriters who couldn’t catch a break if you gave them the actual vinyl. It doesn’t matter why Meek decided to air out Drake because Drake doesn’t really care. Funk Flex tried stirring the pot by playing the original version of 10 Bandz. When most artists get a beat it’s possible that someone else could be rhyming or singing over it. Women in Hip Hop have always been accused of having ghostwriters due to the levels of sexism in the male dominant industry. You won’t hear many Rappers discuss this issue because they themselves have ghostwriters. Either that or their raps are just wack.


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