Over the past year, there’s been a sharpened focus on the behind-the-scenes writing side of some of our favorite hip-hop songs, thanks in part to Drake-gate. Hip-hop fans everywhere have had to come to the sobering realization that some of their favorite rappers aren't fully responsible for the verses, hooks, and bridges that make up their best work.
While there will forever be a debate as to what effect, if any, that fact has on the credibility of any one particular artist, we should collectively accept that in 2016, not every rapper writes 100% of their lyrics, writing records is often a collaborative effort, and yes, there's a big difference between songwriting versus ghostwriting. Also, Santa Claus isn’t real, and drinking liquor doesn’t make you warmer.
Now that we have a strong foothold in the reality of what goes into crafting popular music, little nuggets of history are starting to emerge that may, with time, begin to re-shape how we feel about some of our favorite hip-hop moments.
In a recent interview with Power 106, longtime Kanye-collaborator and Booth fave Consequence spoke briefly on his side-gig as a ghostwriter. While Consequence’s professionalism kept him tight-lipped about some of his larger contributions, the kind he'd never reveal for fear of harming his reputation, he did let slip that he was technically a ghostwriter on Jay Z’s The Black Album standout “Encore.”
To be clear, a ghostwriter is someone who contributes to a song or project and does not receive an official writing credit. Consequence stated that he and Kanye co-wrote the chorus over the phone, and sure enough his name is nowhere to be found on the song’s credits.
As a culture, we haven’t yet established a meaningful threshold for how much ghostwriting is too much ghostwriting. Is helping to write a few opening bars the equivalent of co-writing a hook? By and large, the consensus seems to be if the music is dope and the sentiment is genuine we’ll let it fly, but there are plenty of hardliners who simply refuse to accept a rapper's raps that aren't that rapper's own words.
Ultimately, if the majority of us are unmoved by claims of minor ghostwriting, the assistance of a veteran like Consequence should have no negative effect on an acclaimed release from the great Jay Z.