Monday, 9 December 2013

5 Iconic Rap Hits and the Ghostwriters Behind Them

Here it is, five huge rap hits spanning all eras of the genre, with the actual ghostwriters themselves revealing how writing the tracks went down. Straight from the horse’s mouths, ghostwriting has always been a down-low element of the game.

Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight

Credited to: Sylvia Robinson, Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike, Master Gee; Later credited: Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers
Ghostwriter: Grandmaster Caz (Curtis Brown)

From Grandmaster Caz’s official bio: “In 1979, former R&B singer and label head Sylvia Robinson discovered Caz’s friend Big Bank Hank rapping along with one of Caz’s practice tapes. Impressed, she invited him to become the third member of a studio rap group called the Sugarhill Gang, which was set to record the first rap single. Without revealing the true author, Hank went to Caz and asked to borrow the rhymes for the record; Caz agreed, hoping for an eventual favor in return — which never materialized, and neither did songwriting credit or royalties.”

 Eazy-E – Eazy-er Said Than Dunn

Credited to: Eddie Floyd, Bonny Rice, Rufus Thomas and Andre Young
Ghostwriter: Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson)

In an interview with Complex Ice Cube detailed how he wrote Boyz-n-The-Hood for a group Eazy was managing: “He had a group out in New York called Home Boys Only, called HBO. One of them looked like LL Cool J. Eazy wanted to write a song for them, a street song, like what we were doing on the mixtapes. So when I wrote it, it was too West Coast for them. They didn’t understand the terminology. So they rejected the song. I paid for the studio time already, so Dre convinced Eazy that he had a good enough voice to do it.” Later on in the interview, Cube names ‘Eazy-er Said Than Dunn’ and ’8Ball’ as personal favorites from Eazy’s debut album, casually adding “I wrote them” when asked about his involvement with those tracks.

Dr. Dre Ft. Snoop Dogg & Nate Dogg – The Next Episode

Credited to: David Axelrod, Brian Bailey, Melvin Bradford, Calvin Broadus and Andre Young
Ghostwriter: The D.O.C. (Tracy Lynn Curry)

As told to LA Weekly: “I’d cultivated that song for such a long time. The very last line of ”G’ Thang’ is ‘Just chill ’till the next episode,’ but this song didn’t happen for ten more years. We did it three or four times before it finally appeared on 2001. We were just waiting for the right story, and 2001 ended up being a huge record.”

 Lil’Kim – Crush On You

Credited to: Shaunee Heard, Kowan Lloyd, Jeffrey Lorber and Cristopher Wallace
Ghostwriter: Cam’ron (Cameron Ezike Giles)

In an interview on Hot 97 Killa Cam revealed how he wrote a verse for the Queen bee’s 1997 hit single: “What happened was, [Untertainment CEO Lance] Un [Rivera] gave Mase $30,000 to write five songs for Lil’ Cease at that time and Mase gave me $5,000 of the 30 to write one or two of the songs,” he said. “I wrote the ‘Crush on You’ song and they ended up keeping it for Lil’ Kim album but it was really for Lil’ Cease. The original ‘Crush on You’ is all Lil’ Cease, Lil’ Kim isn’t even on the record.”

 Baby Ft. Clipse – What Happened To That Boy

Credited to: Chad Hugo, T. Thornton, G. Thornton, B. Williams and P. Williams
Ghostwriter: Gillie Da Kid (Sar’d Nasir)

Speaking to XXL about how he was pushed to the background of the Cash Money empire when refusing to sell his publishing rights to Baby, Gillie Da Kid revealed he had been writing most of Birdman’s verses, including the one on his popular collaboration with the Thornton brothers: “Clipse was in the studio when we wrote it, they seen that I wrote it. They seen Stunna in the booth like, “Gillie, how you say that?” I would rap a verse and he might take a word out to make it sound New Orleans, but it’s my pen. And I been around New Orleans so much that I know what they talk about. And I know Stunna he can’t say too many big words, so you got to make it as simple as possible”