Ghostwriting. What are the names that first come to mind? No doubt Drake, and his feuds and publicity after being ‘exposed’ for having ghost-writers come to mind. But did you think of: Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Kelly Clarkson, Elton John, Taylor Swift, among many others?
Why is it that when it comes to ghostwriting, hip hop and rap artists get the majority of the hate?
Looking back at the origins of rap, it was all storytelling. Artists and groups like the Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Tupac, Rakim, and Notorious B.I.G. all told stories. The stories were about the hood, their struggle, and the life they faced. Since this was still fairly new and fresh, the story could be told often, in multiple ways, and a lot of different styles.
Flash forward a few decades, and that story has evolved, and has been told in hundreds of thousands of different ways. The story has been told of the plight, the struggle, the journey to better times, and in many ways poetic, and in activist tones. However, that story has been told so often, and has been lyrically dissected and synonymously re-told, that it’s extremely difficult to re-write in different ways.
As such, we have fewer storytelling rap artists. Only a few seem to carry on the style of old, in the sense of using rap as a platform for activism and awareness campaigns. Many others seem to tell a story about how they are ‘better’ than the ‘others.’
Essentially involving something along the lines of “I got money, I got women, I got (insert expensive things accessible only to the wealthy and bourgeois).” And that’s okay. People are quick to dismiss these songs and claim that “rap is dying,” or that it’s sad what state hip-hop has come to today.
Enter Drake. One of the few artists who holds immense dominance in the music industry as a whole and happens to be a storyteller. He’s been compared to Biggie, Tupac, and has also been named the best hip-hop artist alive today by some.
He’s equally well known for recent feuds regarding having used the help of a ‘ghostwriter.’ Taylor Swift owns similar notoriety when it comes to the pop and country music industries, however, she’s never faced such criticism. Even one of the greatest jazz musicians and singers of all time, Frank Sinatra, or proclaimed king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, has used ghost writers, and they’re never criticized.
While everyone who is engaged with hip-hop and rap would appreciate the songs by Drake that were ghostwritten, he is impaled on a figurative record cross for having accepted help.
He decided that he needed to brainstorm, get creative inputs and help from other artists, and got help writing a song, however, everyone is ready to sentence him of a musical crime. Since when did it become unacceptable to collaborate? Eminem nearly maintains all of his relevance by featuring other popular artists in his music. Ed Sheeran receives praise for himself being a ghostwriter!It’s easy to see that it’s not about the purity of music, the originality of the lyrics, or even the captivating beat that many care about.
Why is a hip-hop and rap artist the only one to face staunch criticism, simply for working together with other artists to create his art? I think you know the answer.