Why Do GhostWriters Still Haunt Hip-Hop?

Hip Hop is all about keeping it real, so what place does ghostwriting have in rap? In an episode of 1Xtra stories DJ Semtex lifted the lid on one of Hip Hop’s biggest taboo subjects.

Speaking to some of the most notorious, successful and unexpected ghost-writers in rap including Grandmaster Caz, Sauce Money and Kool G Rap and with contributions from legendary N.W.A rapper Ice Cube, Semtex asked how might ghostwriters have changed the face of Hip Hop? What role has it played in the careers of Puff Daddy, The Sugarhill Gang and Dr. Dre? If Hip Hop is all about keeping it real, what place does ghostwriting have in rap? Should rappers pay other people to write their rhymes? Is ghostwriting is a good thing for Hip Hop, and what roles has it played in the careers of some the biggest stars in a genre that have traditionally relied so heavily on truth. DJ Semtex explored some of Hip Hop’s biggest ghost-written records and revealed the often surprising ghost-writers behind them.

Grandmaster Caz is the self proclaimed “first ghost-writer” of Hip Hop and he told the story of how his rhymes ended up being used for the first commercially successful rap record Rappers Delight by The Sugarhill Gang. Kool G Rap is a pioneer of East Coast hard core Gangsta Rap, and widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time inspiring both Jay Z and Nas, he described how he injected his own style in writing rhymes for Roxanne Shante and later on had is own material used by the female rap duo Salt N Pepa. One of the biggest selling rap records of all time is ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ by Puff Daddy, a tribute to his friend The Notorious B.I.G which was released soon after Biggie was shot dead in 1997. Todd Gaither aka Sauce Money speaks about writing Puff Daddy’s verses and sheds more light on the creation of the record as well as the impact the song had on his ghostwriting career.

Blogger and record label owner Frank Miller aka FWMJ, and journalist and editor of website Hip Hop DX Kathy Iandoli discussed some of the most prominent ghostwritten records as well as the struggle that high profile rappers face in staying authentic whilst under pressure to make hits.

How might ghostwriters have changed the face of Hip Hop? Is ghostwriting becoming less of a taboo? And how do ghostwriters feel about not getting the glory for their own work? These are all questions still causing controversy today so have your say on Twitter and tell us what you think.

Listen to the BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra Stories with DJ Semtex now.