Hip hop: scared of ghostwriting
It is the year of the ghostwriter in hip-hop but, let’s be honest, it’s always been the year of the ghostwriter to one extent or another. Ever since Big Bank Hank borrowed lyrics from Casanova Fly for the Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, some rappers have leaned on other writers for lines and leads.
This is the way of the walk in most genres. It’s accepted that a hit song will come with a long list of co-writers – even before the likes of Mark Ronson or Sam Smith remember to retrospectively credit people such as the Gap Band or Tom Petty – and it never causes a blip.
Hip-hop is different and the slightest hint around ghostwriting can bring on a bout of handbags which make “yo Mama” memes look like an average day of shouting and roaring in the Dáil. Look at the kerfuffle which occurred when Drake was accused of not penning his own work by Meek Mill.
The fact that Drake may have to seek some help from more experienced hands would not have caused a blind bit of attention elsewhere, but it sets off alarm bells when you bring hip-hop’s desire for authenticity and realness into play.
But some ghostwriters can make a lucrative few bob from their skills. Nas (above left), last seen not turning up for the Web Summit last weeks, is widely believed to have helped pen Will Smith’s Getting Jiggy Wit It, a track which would probably not have made the Illmatic cut. Meanwhile, a young up-and-coming Jay Z joined the long cast of writers who’ve done time writing rhymes for Dr Dre. Good work if you can get it.