The battle is officially on.
And I don’t mean the wordy Twitter assault or aggressive rhymes between two heavy-hitters in the game Drake and Meek Mill. As the crusade continues between the authentic freestyle skills of industry front men vs. the combative lyricists & beats created behind the scenes- known as ghostwriters, major names are under fire rather than just spittin’ it.
The underground rap community is bringing a lot of attention to the forefront, referencing the use of ghostwriters and how it affects a superstar’s credibility. While every style & genre develops their own fan base, casual rap listeners are very confused by this latest callout. Ghostwriters may not be a new trend, but since Mr. Mill’s callout, declaring mass public favorite Drake a fraud, ghostwriters are finally getting their 15 minutes of recognition.
Various genres, including pop music especially, have all been associated with the term. Most people at this point don’t really seem to mind as pop music doesn’t often rely on lyrical validity. Many hits have been written, shared, passed along and recorded after multiple contributions from backend musical aficionados. So why now does it matter for the hip-hop culture?
Truth be told, all may be fair in love & war, but not love & hip hop. Rappers in particular are held at a much higher regard and standard due to their direct image surrounding their rise and/or future potential as a lyrical master.
Does Drake’s Started From The Bottom generational anthem lose considerable meaning and its ultimate message if we knew that some kid who majored in poetry at Stockholm was the true culprit behind the pen and pad lifestyle? According to many artists- yes! As a lyricist, having a ghostwriter warrants the categorical offense.
How do you plead? Fans/jury are currently out on this controversial debate as a clear line is being drawn from the inside out.
Although no one is able to prove any of this to be real, or more than just a publicity stunt, it is certainly putting the definition of hip-hop under the microscope with fans and industry professionals.
In the traditional sense, performing songs written by other people isn’t really viewed as “ghostwriting”. Going back to the days of Motown, the “ghost” prefix is an implication that the origin writer is not looking to be credited or flourish with fame and notoriety- just a check made out to cash please. The distinction between singers vs. rappers is it is treated as songwriting for another attempt tasked for producing a Billboard Top 100. A singer doesn’t have to be responsible for the music, just vocals, hence why they escape the struggle. Now if they happen to have extended talent or a knack to translate words into music, well then double whammy- polish that Grammy.
However, that’s not exactly how hip-hop works. Just as a singer is judged on vocal capability and range, rappers are appraised for their ability to create with much more than a few rhyming words. I’m talking, “We need some profound metaphors with an attention-grabbing delivery… And oh yeah- Can you cover some seriously inspiring subject matter for the youth of America too?”
Although, I would imagine this responsibility comes with no shortage of pressure. Rappers are made based on how they are perceived through their words, message and highly respected for their lyrical jabs and prowess- that’s the appeal- the competition.
After speaking with on the rise member of YBM music, Efficial, he shared his thoughts on the obtrusive market, “Personally if you are considered one of the greatest right now and to be put on blast for not being the lyricist that you’re thought to be, you deserve some of that backlash for not giving at least some credit to the minds behind your music…”if someone is writing for you”. We are artists and at the end of the day that’s our job to be creative and make a masterpiece amongst other things! If you are not behind that art, let it be known, especially as a “Rap Artist”. It’s okay to have help but to steal or have someone ghost write for you and hide it ain’t the business, the fans won’t respect that at all. These people pay for a piece of our mind and lives, so why portray someone else in your art and pretend it’s you? This is just my opinion and can only speak for me and me only. I feel as if we should be open about the hands in the making of what we do. It’s too many people hindering others because they want all the lime light!!! Let them shine you already have yours! Bottom line is I have no problem with ghost writing at all, but let it be known! It’s not taking away from your ability, it’s just being 100% with yourself and others. Drops mic.”
While a long list of hip-hop names are being scrutinized publicly, other celebrities are being forth right in defending their choices. It all depends on your social influence and representation. P Diddy once proudly proclaimed, “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!” This was openly accepted because his integrity never came into a play. Diddy is a music mogul- essentially a business himself. With nothing to hide and no street cred to lose, his catchy hooks and material isn’t examined based on his rags to riches story- just his riches as his current entrepreneur status matures.
Since this hot topic exploded via social media, the lingering battle progresses effortlessly promoting the VMA’s and other award shows as they rapidly approach. More artists are using their public forums to speak out about their distaste, condemnation or support for those under attack.