Mic Check: 9 of the Greatest Hip Hop Songs Allegedly (or Not) Written by Ghostwriters


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Hip Hop has created records that will outlive us all. These tracks play in our playlist at every BBQ, block party, or random shuffle mix. However, is there a discredit of the performer if someone else wrote the lyrics? Check out these masterful musical bangers believed to have been written by a ghostwriter(s)…. allegedly.

JT, left, and Yung Miami of City Girls arrive at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2021, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The Queen summer anthem will always be an answer call to the city girl tribe in every state. Yung Miami and JT’s unapologetic street-savvy verses kick in full gear to elevate Act Up to a movement. The rhymes themselves were written by friend Lil Yachty who, in a Kerwin Frost interview, stated, “I know them personally, and I know what women like to hear. What’s some like raunchy shit? I just started saying it, and before I went in the booth I said, ‘no homo, y’all” because all my boys were in the room.”

Some music historians believe this feel-good late 80s record to have kicked off Hip Hop’s golden era. The track by self-proclaimed “Clown Prince of Hip Hop” Biz Markie, is a pioneer MC, adding humor to his rhymes with clever punchlines. Yet, the original back-then song Vapors is stated to have been written by  Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane. Kane has publicly displayed that his contribution to Biz’s music is not because of his (Biz) lack of talent but more so due to laziness.

Drake performs on stage on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Summer 2015 saw 10 Bands becoming another track on the continuous Drake hit machine list. But due to an online beef with Philly rapper Meek Mill, a surfaced reference track of 10 Bands being performed by ghostwriter Quentin Miller put a slight stain on Drizzy’s lyrical legacy status. Fast-forward to the present day, Drizzy is still an elite artist, but the controversy of 10-Bands will always put a dent in his legacy.

Lil Kim. Credit by BET. No copyright infringement intended
Lil Kim. Credit by BET. No copyright infringement intended

Queen Bee Kim has never shied away from how the late Notorious B.I.G. mentored her early rhyme stages regarding song development. However, because of BIG’s cosign (and sexism), it’s always been alleged that he did more than assist with the chorus. Instead, he wrote all of Crush on You. Although the pen credit of the song may be debatable, Lil Kim’s legacy grew to become legendary, with Crush on You as a timeless record.

Snoop Dogg seen at the Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday, July 6, 2018, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

I am not sure how much of a GHOST secret this was considering Shawn Carter’s (aka Jay-Z) name is listed in the songwriter credits. Snoop has gone on record stating how he enjoyed Hov’s lyrics so much because “it was what was best for the song,” which showcases Dre’s genius as a producer and Sir Carter as a quality writer.

Kanye West answers questions from Sr. pastor Joel Osteen during the 11 am service at Lakewood Church Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Arguably, the song that launched Mr. West into superstardom, Jesus Walks, had all the elements of truth and controversy that make a record pop in the night. Yet, Kanye’s genius is in his maestro ability to recruit other talented artists—fellow Chicagoan Rhymefest, to pen the lyrics to the now-classic record. Jesus Walks is not only a superb song but it’s an innovative one. 

Salt N Pepa’s Push It, is arguably the first Hip Hop cookout record where family and friends dance in unison, ignoring the sexual innuendo lyrics. The song is credited for launching the duo’s careers into superstardom during the “Rap is fad” 1980s era. Producer Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor (who’s seen in the music video) is the genius behind the mic who penned the group’s rhymes matching their B-Girl image. Salt N Pepa can credit Azor for a few other career hit records but Push It will remain a legend above them all. 

Street pharmacist turned record label executive Eric “Eazy E” Wright had no intention to rhyme on any song, yet Boyz in the Hood immortalized him. When a New York-based rap group that we never heard from argued against the California-style lyrics written by fellow NWA member Ice Cube, producer Dr. Dre suggested that Eazy add his unique voice to the song. Eazy laid his vocals, and multiple albums and movies later, the music has taken an identity of its own.

Singer Cardi B attends the Chanel Ready To Wear Spring-Summer 2020 collection, unveiled during the fashion week, in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Cardi B’s star power was/is always more about her celebrity than rhyme creativity. She never claimed to be a lyrical MC who would rap freestyles on a Funkmaster Flex session. Besides being a 2016 and beyond musical banger that slaps harder than an old Color Purple Auntie, Bodak Yellow is considered a joint effort credited to fellow rappers Paradison Fontaine and heavily influenced by Kodak Black. Cardi has since had multiple hit records, erasing all one-hit-wonder criticisms.

To the Hip Hop purest, having a Ghostwriter can tarnish a legacy. To the general fan, nobody cares when the record is a hit. The reality is an artist has free range to seek multiple creative avenues to develop a song, whereas an MC’s gift relies solely on their ability to create words that blow away the mind; thus, one cannot hold a title as an elite rhyme slayer if assistance is required. The difference between the two is vital, but the enjoyment is universal.

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