Hip-hop and the art of the ghost-writer...

Social media is a brilliant thing, and one of its best qualities is the unparalleled sense of proximity you can get to famous and not-so-famous bands and artists. Most of the time it’s all very tame and professional, but occasionally you get a good, old-fashioned ruction which makes scrolling through a sea of “download my mixtape, fam” worthwhile.

Whether it’s Wiley sacking his manager, Zayn Malik saying what we’re all thinking about Naughty Boy, or Justin Bieber taunting Orlando Bloom after he slid into his girl’s DMs; there’s shots to be fired, shade to be thrown and hot takes to be had.

One of Twitter’s latest thinkpiece-provoking fallouts has been Meek Mill’s attack on Drake for supposedly not writing his own bars. Taking to Twitter, Meek said “Stop comparing drake to me too.... He don't write his own raps!” before adding, “That's why he ain't tweet my album because we found out!”

The ghost-writer in question is young Atlanta artist Quentin Miller, but here’s the thing, Drake has made absolutely no attempt at all to hide his association with Miller and has even credited him as a writer on several tracks from his last mixtape, as well as being honest and open about using other writers in the past. For example, in this interview Drizzy references having Hush in the studio with him to offer his opinion at all times. Hush, by the way, is given writing credits on almost every single track on 'Nothing Was The Same'. So what exactly is Meek’s problem? Is ghost-writing really such a big taboo in hip-hop any more? Was it ever?

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It’s a well-known fact that ghost-writing has been going on in hip-hop for decades. Ice Cube allegedly wrote most of 'Straight Outta Compton' himself, with Eazy E and Dr Dre strictly there for their distinctive, and completely polarised, deliveries. Ice Cube even wrote Eazy’s early solo work, while some of Dr Dre’s most famous verses can be attributed to Eminem, Rick Ross and Jay Z, among others. At this point, I’m not even sure if Diddy writes his own text messages any more.

Traditionally, this was kept fairly hush-hush (no pun intended), with ghost-writers not given credit for their work, but these days it’s a bit different. Ghost-writing is a popular way for rappers on the come-up, or whose careers have quietened down for whatever reason, to stay relevant and active in the scene.

Ultimately, some artists are just better-suited to certain bars than others. Nas wrote Getting Jiggy With It for Will Smith, and if you’re seriously going to tell me that you’d rather God’s Son recorded that track than the Fresh Prince, well, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that one. Plus, this is Drake we’re talking about here. He’s spent the last few months hanging out at Wimbledon, trying to perfect his London accent and getting bodied by Tesco.

If he does respond to Meek, he’ll probably challenge him to clash at Lewisham McDeez...

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Words: Paul Gibbins (@paulgibbins)

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