Hip Hop: To Ghostwrite or Not?

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After the non-stop stream of controversy that has spewed from almost every gossip hiphop news source in the past year, the general public has become aware that fraudulent literary credit is not an abomination purely exclusive to Shakespeare academic theorists or cautionary copyright tales. In fact, our most beloved contemporaries have accused and been accused of utilizing ghostwriters, Drake most prevalently (whose alleged have both been substantiated and debunked by several retaliative mixtapes).
But the real moral conundrum lies with the consumer; how much do we value authenticity?
In an era where credits can be signed and locked away with the wave a contract, who really suffers from an artist’s creative fall from grace? Even further, does the artist even suffer at all? Or have we as a consumer public become so engrossed by the product, the brand, that we no longer care about who wrote what?
To dissect this, let’s take a look at Drake’s consumer demographic: the entire world. Everybody listens to Drake, whether it be one of his solitary mixtapes scattered throughout the internet like easter eggs, or his newest worldwide anthem. Drake has perfected a sort of vague familiarity in his lyrics that largely succeeds at alienating no one. It’s hard to fathom any of the screaming fans really giving a damn whether or not Hotline Bling was penned by the Canadian MC or not, in fact, over the years, ghostwriting has truly become a millennial norm. Dr. Dre openly credits ghostwriters on his projects, Kanye discussed penning lyrics for bigger rapper in the game at the time of his come up, and Kendrick Lamar notes in his music his personal distaste with the prevalence of ghostwriters in the industry today.

The worst thing about using ghostwriters is not just the moral ambivalence of having someone else write your songs, but the fact that their prominence exemplifies a society in which authenticity is no longer at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Sadly, the question isn’t do our favorite rapper have the talent to come up with their own content? But rather, who cares?

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