10 Hip-Hop Songs You Probably Didn’t Know Were Written by Another Rapper
Every now and again, the hip-hop community becomes divided over the 10 Rap Commandments with the unspoken law of thou shall not evoke ghostwriters at the center of the debate. The genre, founded at the intersection where honesty meets skill, featured pioneers paving the way for rising MCs by telling street tales in their own words.
But as much as hip-hop fans like to credit their favorite rapper’s favorite rapper for spitting hardcore lyrics they can relate to, the truth is many rhymers have at one time or another relied on the penmanship of peers or their occasional competitors. Last month, Meek Mill claimed Drake “don’t write his own raps” and named his alleged ghostwriter Quentin Miller, who wrote various songs on his chart-topping album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Let’s be clear, ghostwriting in hip-hop is nothing new. However, some fans thrive on authenticity and take pride in supporting rappers who write their own rhymes. Then there are other hip-hop heads who could care less about who writes their favorite rapper’s rhymes as long as the delivery is hot. Just when you thought Drake was the only big-name in hip-hop accused of relying on the next man’s pen game, check out 10 Hip-Hop Songs You Probably Didn’t Know Were Written by Another Rapper.
Ice Cube has been crafting hits since the ’80s. Thanks to his lyrical efforts and songwriting savvy, America embraced the brutally honest narrative of adolescent males growing up in South Central, Los Angeles. In 1987, Cube, who was 17 at the time, wrote Eazy-E‘s solo debut single, “Boyz-n-the-Hood.” The track, which boasts the the infamous lines, “‘Cause the boys in the hood are always hard / You come talking the trash we’ll pull your card / Knowing nothing in life, but to be legit / Don’t quote me boy ’cause I ain’t said s—,” continued to set the tone for future N.W.A. projects.
Dr. Dre is one of few artists who can do it all. He successfully evolved from a DJ to a producer and rapper, but not without the help from some of his fellow MCs. Dre practically invented the term ghostwriter as his earlier verses were created courtesy of Ice Cube. Both of his multi-platinum albums, 1992’s The Chronic, and 2001, featured hits crafted by other rappers. One notable contributor on 2001 was Jay Z. Hov’s songwriting skills are heard in Dre’s verses on the lead single “Still D.R.E.” which also features Snoop Dogg.
One of hip-hop’s most notable beefs dates all the way back to the birth of rap. Bronx rapper Grandmaster Caz put Big Bank Hank and the rest of the Sugar Hill Gang on blast for using his rhymes on the 1979 classic “Rapper’s Delight.” According to Caz, Big Bank Hank stole his rhyme book and used lyrics that appear in his verse on the famed track. Until this day, Caz still feels he was robbed of his writing credits.
Kanye West‘s music career began with collaborations. In his earlier days as a producer, he worked with his mentor No I.D. then later his “big brother” Jay Z, so it’s no surprise to hear that he makes it a group effort when it comes to creating his verses at times. Apparently, Ye also relied on former G.O.O.D. Music artist Consequence to pen his rhymes. Back in 2011, Consequence admitted that he wrote lyrics for the track “Champion” from Kanye’s Graduation album. “One record that I never got credit for which always stuck out in my mind was that I helped out with some of the rhymes from ’Champion,’” Cons told talked to MTV’s RapFix. “I mean, there’s a lot of joints [that were not credited].”
At the young ages of 12 and 13, James Christopher “Mac Daddy” Kelly and Christopher “Daddy Mac” Smith, known as Kris Kross, brought Jermaine Dupri,’s hip-hop dreams to life with “Jump.” The 1992 song, written and produced by Dupri, put the Atlanta rap duo on the map and changed the game in the midst of a hip-hop drought. The track spent eight weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, has since sold more than 3 million copies and remains etched in hip-hop history as an undeniable hit.
When the Beastie Boys wanted to recreate a fictional version of how they came to be the great hip-hop stars that they are, they found inspiration from Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels of Run-D.M.C. The collaboration led to “Paul Revere,” the third single from the Boys’ debut 1986 album License to Ill. Thanks to Simmons’ creative narrative, the Beastie Boys were able to showcase their legendary storytelling skills and make other rappers wish they could pull-up on a bronco named Paul Revere.
“Crush on You”
It was no secret that the Notorious B.I.G. was the man behind a majority of Lil’ Kim’s hardcore, sexually explicity lyrics. Biggie was also responsible for penning verses for his right hand-man Cease A Leo aka Lil Cease. But who knew Dipset’s own Cam’ron was the man who drafted Cease’s most notable verse on Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You.” Cam, who was a rookie in the game and trying to score his own deal at the time, was paid $5,000 by Ma$e to pen the verse as part of Ma$e’s agreement to Lance “Un” Rivera. Cam said the original track was intended for Cease and was actually sans Kim. However, the song was later released on her 1996 debut album, Hard Core.
Drake may have been at the center of his own ghostwriting drama a few weeks ago, but he is certainly no stranger to the concept of artists using a fellow rapper to write their material. Before the Toronto native became a household name, he penned songs for one of the rap game’s elite. His name can be seen in the credits for Diddy-Dirty Money‘s Last Train to Paris track “Yesterday,” which also features Chris Brown. It sounds about right since Diddy recently cleared up rumors of bad blood between himself and Drake, naming the “Back to Back” rhymer as one of his favorite artists.
“Jesus Walks” is one of Kanye West‘s biggest songs to date. The triumphant hip-hop gospel-tinged track was a standout on the Chi-town native’s breakout album, The College Dropout. Although Kanye took us to church, he wasn’t the only one who wrote the sermon. The man behind the Grammy Award-winning song’s lyrics is none other than fellow Chicago native Rhymefest, who even recorded a version of the song before Yeezy. Ye and Rhymefest have continued to collaborate as his name can also be seen in the credits for his latest album, Yeezus.
When Aussie native Iggy Azalea hit the hip-hop scene, rumors ignited that she was using ghostwriters to help her get her point across. While many bashed her for a lack of authenticity and credited T.I. has her ghostwriter, Iggy ignored the haters and continued on the road to stardom. Her time in the spotlight came with the 2014 summer anthem “Fancy,” which as it turns out, was not written by Azalea. Inglewood, Calif. rhymer Skeme hinted that he (along with others) were involved with the writing process. “We had something to do with it, a lot of vibe, a lot of push,” Skeme told Sirius XM’s Sway in the Morning. “We put trust funds up for that song.”