There’s no shame in taking your place alongside (non top-5) eccentric super rich rappers like Dre, Puff (and way more that I’m sure would break my heart to learn about). Just don’t perpetrate penmanship in the writers circle.
If you have Twitter and are even remotely interested in hip-hop, then you’re up on last week’s can of worms, which was opened by Meek Mill. Mostly, he accused hip-hop’s poster boy du jour, Drake, of not writing his raps. The thought of it was laughable to fans at first. Then, rapper OG Maco followed up by pointing out that a second writer, one Quentin Miller, was credited with at least five songs on the latest album by the Toronto superstar. We all missed it apparently because it’s 2015, so most of us don’t own physical copies of anything. Funkmaster Flex stepped it up a by procuring what he claims are the actual reference tracks. In fact, a cease he posted to Instagram seems almost to confirm its authenticity. So the question is, is Quentin Miller Drake’s “ghostwriter”? Well, as Miller describes, no. Rightfully so. He’s a paid, credited collaborator, which in essence still means he “helped write the songs”.
The blowback from Drake’s camp seems to suggest that it’s bigger than just rap. Drake is a multifaceted artist – he composes music (like plays instruments and stuff), he changes the game (constantly) and sets trends. Meek Mill is one dimensional in comparison. You know what, I agree to that effect. Drake is a more powerful brand, and all around better artist than Meek. He’s more palatable by the masses, of all ages; although, the question stands. Does Drake write his raps? Not his compositions, not the singing on songs like Hold On We’re Going Home, but actual “hip-hop” rhymes on songs like Energy. The answer is a gray-area apparently. That’s the issue.
It’s not unusual, though, I mean have you ever really looked at the credits of your fave album? They are rarely clean and straight forward. Your heart wants to look at Illmatic and see nothing but N. Jones in the writing credits, likewise for Reasonable Doubt, and more recent efforts by the likes of J. Cole and others. I will acknowledge that rappers writers often credit mad people, such as friends and musicians (for various personal and legal reasons), as in the case of Nas, who credits multiple jazz musicians on Illmatic. But others are a bit more suspect and call the actual solo creative process of your fave artists in question.
I mean, if you have lyrics written for you, and it’s widely known/accepted, people get over it and just go for the ride – à la Puffy and Dre. You just won’t be acknowledged as a “writer”, which artists like those above are fine with. The problem is though, is that the hip-hop community is über competitive, and the thought that Drake isn’t ‘shakespearing’ his soliloquies is quite off-putting, no matter what average fans feel. The genre of hip-hop has become more of a business than a sub-culture, and there is much more smoke and mirrors that many of you know or can even imagine. It seems inevitable that multi-millionaires who are seemingly detached from the street would enlist hungry up and comers to help them stay fresh.
Does that make it ok? Well, No.
Hip-hop isn’t R&B, Rock or any other genre where not writing your shit it is considered “normal”. I’ve seen other blogs suggesting that hip-hop was “born” when Grandmaster Caz wrote Rapper’s Delight, so it shouldn’t be so taboo that it still happens today – except that it is. Rapper’s delight was a smash hit, but it’s a terrible example of artistic mastery in the field of hip-hop. There are plenty of artists who take the time to craft their lyrics – like literally million. Except we don’t always champion those artists. The music industry is full of pressures, and often, that means accepting input against your will. Hence, some of your fave artists don’t write their shit by themselves. Disappointing huh? Like finding out Santa isn’t real right?
I’ll broaden this because it’s bigger than Drake. It goes for everyone!
That being said, if you don’t write your lyrics, that’s fine – but please position yourself accordingly. It’s infuriating to actual writers. There’s no shame in taking your place alongside (not top-5) eccentric super rich rappers like Dre, Puff (and way more that I’m sure would break my heart to learn about). Just don’t perpetrate penmanship in the writer’s circle. We don’t take kindly to that sort of thing.