Although listening to today’s Hip Hop points out that we are in need of lyricists, headz don’t seem to be embracing the concept behind ghostwriting like other fields or music genres.
By definition a ghostwriter is a person who writes books, articles, stories, reports or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Ghostwriting is also be found in the medical field where a pharmaceutical company would pay professional writers to produce papers and then pay other scientists or physicians to put their names to these papers prior to being published in medical or scientific journals.
Ghostwriters in the medical field must be paid well, because they don’t come out, like their Hip Hop counterparts, to claim rights and royalties after his/her work catches the attention of the world. Ghostwriting is on the list of few things that will never be embraced in Hip Hop. Dre is one of the most iconic but he will never be looked at as a genuine Rapper/Producer like a JDilla, all because he gets his lyrics written for him. Nas nearly lost his street cred when rumors surfaced that he had a ghostwriter of his own, after he had been known to write for the likes of Dre, Will Smith and Diddy. The feeling those rumors left is similar to the one headz had when we saw Canibus pull out that notepad.
Other music genres seem to live-off ghostwriting, and they’re okay with it. Go through any RnB, Neo-soul, Gospel or Jazz cover sleeve…you’ll see the name of the person who composed the song. Maybe Hip Hop needs to mature.
In this month’s issue of HYPE, Sticman vindicates Nas; “I co-wrote, not ghost-wrote,” said the Dead Prez member when asked about the rumors of him having a skeleton’s hand in the Nigger album.
Artists go through a writer’s block, where creativity isn’t forthcoming and their writing gets affected to a point where they can’t compose anything. Some say it’s because they don’t get time to jot down lyrics between their tours and busy schedule and some simply do not have the discipline and skill to write anything. Those are some of the reasons that drive people to seek lyrics somewhere. Long before our time, people like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ghostwrote songs and musical pieces for wealthy patrons without people making a noise about it.
Not every writer out there wants to be on stage with a mic in his hand, and we should understand that. I guess at the end of the day it should not only be about the person spitting the words, but also the words themselves.