Earlier this year, the controversy over dream hampton's tweet that Nas' Untitled may have been ghostwritten unearthed a surprising amount of vitriol. At center was a conflict over authenticity, the auteur, and why people listen to music.
The fact is, ghostwriting is a completely widespread phenomenon, particularly in the higher reaches of the industry. Sometimes, finding out about a ghostwriter has no effect on the listener, or may even lend greater appreciation to a song. Think about Nas's hand in ghostwriting Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy With It," or the revelation that Jay-Z wrote Dr. Dre's lyrics on "Still D.R.E."
Others might complicate the listener's relationship with a work. Hip-hop is often a collaborative art, but to what degree does Cormega deserve credit for helping Nas on Illmatic? Rhymefest co-wrote "Jesus Walks," and while only Ghostface could have recorded Supreme Clientele, allegations that other artists were involved in the writing process have dogged the record.
Puffy even managed to even brag about ghostwriting on "Bad Boy For Life," an unapologetic auteur uninterested in the specifics of lyric-writing. But these are the ghostwriting episodes we know about. It's much deeper than most people think.