Ghostwriting has been around since the genesis of recorded music. The precedent was set early on that the art of making music was not to be a singular act. In order to record a song professionally a lot of moving parts have to be in place working cohesively. In every genre of music besides rap, ghostwriting is accepted as the norm. Perhaps it’s because in every other genre the voice is the main component for an artist, while in rap it’s your lyrical ability that makes you an emcee. Although the rap community has historically looked down on ghostwriters, many ghostwriters have still been utilized. It seems like ghostwriters are used more as insurance for record companies. As a record company, if you put millions of dollars into an artist you want to make sure you receive a vast return on your investment. The ghostwriter is most likely there so the artist has a better chance of crafting a hit record. Although fans of rap always want to know that an artist’s perspective is coming directly from him, the truth of the matter is this is the music BUSINESS. These artists can’t just come from the heart, they have investors and corporate executives to answer to.
Record companies are not the only ones at fault for the usage of ghostwriters. For many artists, having a writing partner may be a part of their creative process. I imagine Drake‘s situation is that he always likes to have a writing partner that he can bounce ideas off of. Does that make him less of a credible emcee? Do we really expect our favorite rappers to write everything they recite? The answer is yes. We want you to write every piece of lyric that comes out of your mouth. If you had help we do not want to know about it.
In all seriousness, every artist needs inspiration. It would be unfair for fans to hold such extremely high expectations. I propose we look at ghostwriting in a few different ways.
Collaboration: When two artists work together to pen the lyrics of a song or album.
Writing Consultancy: When one artist writes the lyrics but receives inspiration, ideas, and advisory from another party/parties.
Ghostwriting: When an artist writes basically the entirety of the lyrics and another artist just performs and adds their charisma to it.
Going by this format, Quentin Miller would be considered Drake’s collaborator or writing partner. This means that Quentin Miller should receive the same praise and recognition as drake because it seems like they created Drake’s music together. If it’s truly a collaborative effort, rap artists should just be transparent. We’re more likely to respect an artist that admits to having a writing partner then one that denies it. A writing consultant is what I imagine the majority of rappers have. Artists do require assistance and inspiration, so an advisor would come in clutch during the song making process.
I define ghostwriting as when a person completely writes every lyric for a rapper. If that occurs, that rapper is not an emcee.
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