Hip-Hop is all about expressing emotions, thoughts and feelings in a very lyrical, heartfelt and visceral way. It’s a raw and organic expression of the inner-city streets and most of the popular rap songs are extremely honest and undiluted. That’s why in this genre, it’s frowned upon when rappers choose to use ghostwriters to make their songs. But it’s something that definitely happens quite often anyway. Here are 10 rappers who’ve received some ghostwriting help somewhere along their career.
Will Smith may not be a rapper anymore, but there was a time, even though it was many years ago, when he was one of the hottest rappers on the scene. And then of course, he broke into the film industry and became one of the biggest stars in the world. In 1997, he put out the song “Getting Jiggy With It” from his Big Willie Styles album. It was an instant hit, but what people don’t know is that Queensbridge rapper Nas apparently helped with the lyrics for this massive hit. As most rap aficionados know, Nas is one of the most respected lyricists of all time – so Will couldn’t have picked a better ghostwriter.
At this point in time, Dr. Dre is almost a billionaire, and if he wants to, he can choose not to produce or rap on another song again for the rest of his life. His present financial status aside, Dr. Dre has deep roots in the rap industry as both a producer and a rapper. On quite a few of the major albums he has produced, Dre has been known to receive assistance in the writing department from quite a few different personalities: The D.O.C., Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Royce da 5’9” and Knoc-Turnal. On one of his standout tracks from The Chronic album, his verse from “Nuthin’ But a G-Thang” was apparently written by the D.O.C. On his 2001 album, the main standout cut “Still D.R.E.” was written by the lyrical beast Jay-Z. Also on the song “Forgot about Dre,” Royce da 5’9”apparently took on the writing chores for Dr. Dre’s verse. If it’s any consolation, he is very skilled at performing raps that have been written for him.
In the early days of the Junior Mafia which was the main crew of Biggie Smalls, the skilled Brooklyn rapper had to pull double duties writing for other members of his posse like Lil’ Cease and Lil Kim. Actually for Kim’s debut album, one of the main songs that really started her street buzz was called “Queen Bi*ch,” and the lyrics were directly from Biggie’s pen to Lil Kim’s mouth. There was also the major radio single for her debut album Hardcore called “Crush On You.” The lyrics for that one were apparently written by perennial Harlem rapper, Cam’ron.
Whatever happened to Eve? She was the first lady of The Ruff Ryder crew which featured huge names like Swizz Beatz, DMX, The LOX and more. For those who are interested to know, she married well to a rich British entrepreneur and race car driver named Maximillion Cooper. But back in her rapping days, it’s been rumored that Eve got some help with lyrics for some of her biggest hit songs. One of those songs was “Got It All” featuring Jadakiss. For this song, it’s been reported that Philly rapper Cassidy was the skilled lyricist who wrote Eve’s verses.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard:
When the Wu-Tang clan debuted on the scene in the early 90s, they dazzled the rap world with all their unique rapping styles and distinct characters. But even with all this diversity and flavor, there were still a few who stood out from the pack with more charisma and energy than the others: Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. However, later on, we would come to find out that a lot of ODB’s verses for that first album were written by the Rza and Gza. But in retrospect, it doesn’t even really matter, because ODB had such a bold and captivating presence and aura that anything he rapped about instantly became his own. He was certainly one of the most intriguing personalities to ever rock a microphone – may he rest in peace.
Puffy is another one of those Hip-Hop moguls that doesn’t really need to rap. But hey, he likes being in front of the crowd performing and getting that amazing surge of adrenaline. Puffy has readily admitted to having better lyricists than him write his lyrics – and the emcees he has hired include Pharoahe Monche, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and even Drake. Having people ghostwrite your lyrics is certainly not one of the most respected things in Hip-Hop, but in Puffy’s case, we think he gets a pass. He has stayed relevant and successful through so many different eras of rap music, and he’s one smart businessman and entertainer who keeps on going and going and going …
In the late 90’s, there were two main emcees vying for the crown of the hottest female rapper in the game. Those two were Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim. Both of them hailed from Brooklyn but they belonged to different camps. Foxy Brown hooked up with Nas, AZ and Dr. Dre to form The Firm, and the rumors are a lot of verses on that album were written by Nas. There have also been rumors going around the industry that quite a few of the songs on Foxy’s debut album Ill Na Na were penned by none other than Beyoncé’s current hubby, Jay-Z.
Most people know Jim Jones to be the rowdy, marijuana-smoking, side-kick to Harlem rapper Cam’ron. Their entire crew, The Dipset, rose to fame in the early to mid 2000’s. Cam was the leader and Jim Jones was the second in command, and it was only natural for him to start rhyming too. One of his breakthrough hits was “We Fly High,” a song that actually became a genuine Hip-Hop anthem. However the word on the streets is that Max B, another Harlem rapper and associate of French Montana was the guy behind the scenes writing many songs for Jim Jones. Max B is now incarcerated and Jim Jones is still rapping. Either he found a new ghostwriter or he figured out how to write lyrics for himself.
Do you think it’s possible for someone with an ego the size of Kanye West would actually have the humility and patience to have someone ghostwrite a song for him? Well apparently, on his last album Yeezus, he opened up the lanes for creative collaboration and allowed some of his protégés like Cyhi the Prince and others to contribute concepts and lyrical ideas to the project. Tracking back to the past, on one of the hit songs on his debut album called “Jesus Walks,” a fellow Chicago rapper Rhymefest apparently wrote most of the verses. So he may be a creative genius, but guess what, Mr. West is not above using ghostwriters every now and then.
Trina is one of the more formidable female rappers on the scene. She hails from Florida and has been affiliated with huge names on the Florida rap scene like Trick Daddy and the biggest boss Rick Ross. Actually not only has she appeared on songs with Rick Ross, but it seems that the heavyweight emcee has also written lyrics for her in the past. A few of those songs include some of her hits like “100%,” “Told Y’all” and “The Come Up.” Also a little tidbit about Trina – she was apparently dating French Montana right before he started seeing Khloe Kardashian. Rumors are going around that there is a little bad blood between the two now because he dropped her pretty quickly to go the Hollywood route.
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