Where do you stand on writers/ghostwriters?

  • administrators

    Some of the best artists in history have worked with writers and ghostwriters, but there's still a stigma attached to it, especially in hip-hop. Do you feel differently about an artist when you find out they don't write their own songs? Does it matter more when it's hip-hop?

  • I personally don't really care much about whether or not an artist uses ghostwriters as long as the outcome is good music. I don't see the problem with it unless the artist claims to have the best bars around and carries that badge as a title. People are also very nitpicky when it comes to what is accepted. Kanye himself said that Drake and Future helped write on TLOP but you don't hear people ripping him apart for it. I guess the problem occurs when the artist tries to keep it a secret that they aren't writing 100% of what they're saying.

  • I agree, it's when the artist tries to keep it a secret. Ghostwriters I think is what the issue is, not so much writers. I think it also depends on the artist. Example, Dr. Dre .. nobody cares cause he's not supposed to be the best rapper/lyricist. Even with his production there's always been a bunch of people probably doing the majority of the work and he slaps his name/brand on it.

    It really depends on the artist and to what extent. I personally never liked Drake as a rapper. I think he makes great pop songs. His rap stuff is ok, sometimes garbage imo. In his case, i think the writing thing mattered for true rap listeners but the mainstream fanbase that he has couldn't care less. When did a pop audience ever care about songwriters, producers, credits, etc.

  • In hip hop, your lyrical ability is your whole bread and butter. I mean, lately cadence and flow have become a bigger selling point for rappers than ever before, and production can definitely make or break an artist, but as far as what the rapper themselves provide to the music, lyrics and delivery are still the thing that sets them apart in a genre full of similar sounds.

    So imagine how a fan of a singer might feel to find that they was lip synching the whole time. That's pretty similar to the outrage over ghostwriters - it takes the number one selling point of the artist and proves that it was disingenuous.

    It's always gonna depend on the style of the music in question, and the artist themselves, and the level of contribution of other people (it's well known that Rhymefest and Consequence helped Kanye with a LOT of his early material, but it was so distinctly Kanye and he provided so much of the music himself), but it's always going to be a tricky topic.

  • Kenny hit the nail on the head.

  • administrators

    I think it depends on what you're talking about.

    Take Drake, for example. Or Kanye. We're getting quality music from them that's bigger than being the biggest lyricist on the planet, or "bars." They're making songs, and songs are made as more of a collaborative effort. Always has been.

    It's just that so much about hip-hop has to do with the person/self/image that we're lead to believe that this person who's saying they are the best is doing it all themselves.

    I think the problem comes up when its time to decide who's the GOAT rapper. Do we count sales over pen game? How much does having a great pen game trump everything else?

  • Skill > sales

  • @Kenny I dunno bro to me the Quentin Miller references were nowhere near as good as what dropped on IYRTITL. There's a lot to be said for delivery. It's huge and completely underestimated when it comes to rap because most people haven't tried to record one.

    Having said that, obviously you can't to claim the be the greatest rapper alive or the GOAT if you not writing your shit.

  • @khal 100% agree on the idea that we're getting music that's bigger than "bars" or being the best lyricist. I try to tell my strictly lyricist homies this all the time.

    How many Hip Hop artists have transcended the genre? When we make lists of the greatest Artists and Songwriters how many Hip Hop Artists can legitimately be put on the same list with Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, etc.?

    I love lyricism, but to me making great music will always be more important.

  • @Jacob I definitely feel different about an Artist when I find out they didn't write their own songs. I remember when I found out that a bunch of the old classic soul singers didn't write their songs and how disappointed I was. Doesn't mean I don't still love those songs, or even that another person could've delivered it any better. But as a creator, I'm interested in knowing where that spark comes from.

    I think it definitely matters more in Hip Hop, because in other genres the singer is bringing more to the table out the gate - vocal talent. It wouldn't matter as much if Adele didn't completely write all of her songs, because who else is gonna do it like her? Delivery is underestimated in rap, but it still doesn't compare to Adele-level vocal talent.

    Also, the Hip Hop culture and genre was built on battling so it's ingrained in the aesthetic. At the end of the day though, good music always wins. Nobody cares if Kanye can go crazy with a off top freestyle or if he has the illest bars because he gave us songs like "Family Business" "All of the Lights" "Good Life" etc. Good music always wins.

  • @Sol_EQ Definitely true, I tell people all the time this is the first era where the general population cares more about your delivery than your lyrics. QM couldn't do what Drake did to those songs. But for something more personal or more focused on lyrics like a 6pm in New York was ghostwritten, it would matter more.

  • The music industry/radio fame game has always relied on ghostwriters. The traditional model used to $ell music has been: a) find a producer to make dope beat b) find a songwriter for catchy lyrics & c) find a pretty face to "sing" & promote the final product. Popular musicians who follow this model in my humble, subjective opinion are simply vehicles/shells for record companies. Therefore, how can I take you as an artist seriously (especially as a lyricist) if the words you’re promoting as your own come from another mind? I call it like I see it: FAKE, FAKE, FAKE. If you collaborate with other people, just be open & honest bout it bish! I respect Rihanna since she’s always been open that her music is a team of people producing/writing. However more respect to the artists out there writing/producing their OWN music like FKA Twigs (R-E-S-P-E-C-T to that siren songstress).

    Stay Trippy boos,

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  • It never really crossed my mind that some artists hire ghost writers to write their music for them until recently. I believe it was Meek Mill who first called out Drake for not writing his own lyrics, but Drake was already too popular for it to really hurt his reputation. It seems that most people continue to listen to rappers like Drake, even though it is unexplainably obvious that he doesn’t write his own music – anymore, at least. I believe this is because Drake is a good rapper; he’s established himself as one of the biggest in the game – and his numbers show for it. People will continue to listen to his music because his songs are catchy, relatable and he’s alongside the best music producers in the industry. The only issue with me and Drake is that I’m unsure which Drake I’m listening to. Am I bumping to the lyrics and wisdom of the real Drake or a ghost writer? A ghost writer that receives no public recognition in helping the composing of a song or album. A ghost writer that structures the very characteristics of somebody who is looked up to by thousands, if millions, of people.
    It’s very difficult to listen to Drake’s music now without disappointment. I believe artists who use ghost writers can’t level up to any rank in the rap game if you’re considering this aspect. Regardless if the rapper is talented, hype – they are portraying a false image. What image does that portray on their listeners? And it is very disappointing to say that I have recently learned one of my favorite rappers has begun to use lyrics from ghostwriters – Kanye West. Kanye West, at least the old Kanye, is arguably in the top 5, but I’m not sure I can say that anymore. I’ve been listening to Kanye for his career and for him to stoop to this level really hurts his pathos with me. Lately. A recently befriended Kid Cudi called out Kanye and Drake in a rant on Twitter. He argued that he’s been working so hard on making it in the game when other rappers are cheating their way to the top. Cudi wondered why people talk about these rappers as the best five in the game when they have 30 people writing their lyrics. I respect Cudi for his opinion, and it’s true. Kanye responded how Kanye responds to things, and Drake lowly dissed Cudi in a track that judged Cudi for his mental illness, one that he went to rehab for. Likewise, Kanye was just released from the hospital for similar reasons, and I hope he bounces back to the old Kanye West – especially after he hears J Cole’s newest song “False Prophets”.
    J Cole is one of the realest in the game and his unexpected single “False Prophets” proves that. J Cole speaks the truth and the only truth about Kanye West’s downfall.
    Ego in charge of every move, he's a star
    And we can't look away
    Due to the days that he caught our hearts
    He's fallin' apart, but we deny it
    Justifying that half-ass shit he dropped, we always buy it
    When he tell us he a genius but it's clearer lately
    It's been hard for him to look into the mirror lately
    There was a time when this nigga was my hero, maybe
    That's the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take
    J Cole literally pulls the words out of my mouth. I really hope Kanye, and all rappers using ghost writers, start to write their own lyrics again. It’s a sad day when genuine, skilled rappers are overlooked by mainstream artists that only affiliate with one streaming music service and get their money served on a silver platter like their lyrics.

  • With ghostwriters to me it comes down to what is considered Ghostwriting. Is the artist sitting in a chair while ghost writes the whole song? or is it on the lines of aye help me with this last bar or which one sounds better A or B. Rap has been an art that goes to the level of if you didn't do it, say it or write it don't put it in a song and that is what makes rap unique.

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