Off Topic Should Rappers Write Their Own Lyrics?

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It's a never-ending debate as to whether or not rappers should write their own lyrics or have them done by a ghost writer.

Ice Cube was quoted recently with saying, "As far as emceeing and being a rapper, you should write your own stuff.”

In other genres of music, it's common practice to have a songwriter write for the artist and it's widely accepted, of course. The issue is with Rap music. Rappers are expected to write their own lyrics and if they don't, they get clowned.

But is that right? I think so.

Ghostwriting In All Its Glory

Now don't get me wrong - I completely understand if a rapper gets someone else to help them with their lyrics, but to write the whole thing? Nope. This is because Rap music is based upon rappers that are speaking their minds and telling the listener what his/her life is like - the struggles, hardships, and also the fun times. So how can someone else just walk into a room and hand said rapper some lyrics? "Here are your lyrics, sir. It's about how hard you had it growing up in the hood".


It's different with music production. If I'm working on a beat and another beatmaker or producer tells me I should change this or that, it's actually welcomed criticism because it will only enhance my beat. The same can't be said for Rap lyrics. How can someone write lyrics for a rapper and tell that rapper's story? Unless it's just regular stale lyrics like:

"I got enemies, got a lotta enemies
Got a lotta people tryna drain me of my energy
They tryna take the wave from a nigga
Fuckin' with the kid and pray for your nigga"

- Drake "Energy"

Straight up garbage like that can be written by anyone. This is why there's been all sorts of drama lately between Drake and Meek Mill, where Meek called out Drake, saying he didn't write his own lyrics:

As you can see, this is a perfect example of how people react to a rapper not writing his own lyrics (not that I consider Drake "Hip Hop" anyway, but that's a whole other issue).

It's All About Staying True

I was going to quote a Rap song from years ago to show the difference in style of lyrics from then until now but it's not about that (plus I don't know if those lyrics were ghost written either). Back in the day I'm sure there were plenty of rappers that had their lyrics written for them as well but we didn't hear about it like we do today with social media.

From a record label's point of view, I understand. They want a song to be recorded and they don't care how it gets done, just as long as it sounds great and can sell and go viral. So if that means that there needs to be 10 producers and 20 ghostwriters, then so be it.

However, from the point of view of a Hip Hop fan - hell no! How weird would it be if you saw a rapper freestlying in a cypher and it's lyrics that someone else wrote? It's like if there's a cypher and everyone's reciting lyrics to popular songs. Makes no sense.

And that ain't Hip Hop. What do you think?
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Battle Points: 128
I think the verses should be your own words. But some rappers are brilliant word smiths but couldn't write a hook to save their life. Hip Hop is a sub culture genre that is dealing with the same problems other genre's faced when they went from underground to the mainstream pop culture side. Much like when Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd gave way to Poison and the hair metal days. Ghostwriting is always going to be a problem. Because money is involved.
Battle Points: 168
It's not that cut and dried , hues of grey instead of black& white. As a Mc to the heart, nothing I've ever recorded was written by someone else (excluding hooks). But that's the mc/battle rapper in me. My ego would have problems if the engineer or someone would try to change the way I was saying something, or my tone or whatever. But music isn't just about spitting hot bars. It's a collaborative effort and the hip-hop cats gotta understand that. There is no shame per se in Drake, who is known as a talented platinum selling artist who can spit too , in him having some songs ghost written, if that's what happened. Now if it ever came out that someone like...Canibus had songs ghost written, he would be crucified, and rightfully so.


The Beat Strangler
*** illest o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
@SoberMindedMuzk What you said about being an MC/battle rapper makes me wonder about something else - maybe it's those types of rappers that are "required" to write their own stuff. With mainstream rappers it's more or less what @thedreampolice is saying. I mean if you think about it, an underground rapper isn't going to have his lyrics written by someone else, I just can't see that happening.
Battle Points: 168
@SoberMindedMuzk What you said about being an MC/battle rapper makes me wonder about something else - maybe it's those types of rappers that are "required" to write their own stuff. With mainstream rappers it's more or less what @thedreampolice is saying. I mean if you think about it, an underground rapper isn't going to have his lyrics written by someone else, I just can't see that happening.

Tone Def

Most rap that I listen to (and enjoy) mainly derives from independent artist. With my music preference comes a deep desire for lyricism, so organically, I prefer the artists that I listen to to write their own stuff. However, once you talk about mainstream rappers, there is no longer the authenticity-factor involved, and let's just be honest, once an artist goes mainstream, music is no longer in the foreground. Money over everything. Then you compound that objective with a team (or record label) that is only interested on making a return on investment, so record executives, promoters, manager, p&r, etc. will all tell who to be, what to do and what type of songs to put out to maximize their profits. In my eyes, once you sign on that dotted line all authenticity as an artist goes out the window. So therefore it does not surprise me that Drake used some of Quentin Miller's material. I think all industry dudes "borrow," take, or steal from one another. And the current market has been "borrowing" from successful songs for decades, whether it be a sample, a cameo, or parts of verses. If you have so much money and personnel invested into a specific artist's music, you best believe that he will not be the sole decision maker on any aspects of his music (lyrics included).
With that being said, I don't really care about mainstream artists to begin with, I find their material basic, and in most instances believe that they are watered down versions of what an independent artist does. I probably would mind the whole ghostwriting thing if an actual "good" song from a "good" artist had been drafted by somebody else and, if it was done so in a under-the-table type of manner.

That's all I got folks.


I prefer the emcee to write his own stuff......With that said I'd rather hear someone rap to ghostwritten lyrics as opposed to some crap emcee (most mainstream garbage) who can't write himself out of a nursery rhyme.


IllMuzik Mortician
*** ill o.g. ***
This just makes me think of the Craig Mack & Biggie controversy back in the day... but I appreciate an MC who writes his own shit.

Greg Savage

Ehh Fuck you
*** ill o.g. ***
I don't expect an artist to write their own material nor do I care if they do.

When I was fan, I cared because I idolized the artist, but as I transitioned to the field of music my main concern was the big picture and that is, does it work/sound good.

I feel that people to scrutinize artists for not writing their own material forget, most of the greats didn't write their own material hence the difference between Singer/Songwriter, Songwriter, producer and artist.


Old and dirty...
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 304
Many artists don't. If you're going to call yourself an "emcee", then you should. If you're just trying to be an artist and drop hits, then do what you gotta do to do so. Many artists are under deadlines, and sometimes you hit a happens.....some of us have the luxury to just take time off and not have to worry, but some of these artists need material and fast......gotta hit up the dude who has bars on deck.... I'm not even mad, to be honest...


Whats life without hip-hop?
Battle Points: 4
As a raper i think that a raper that doesnt write his own raps is a talented one. Think about it. Someone will make him beats and then someone else will write him lyrics and then someone third will autotune his voice. His whole work is basicaly 5 mins per song. THIS IS NOT HIP-HOP


Theres a difference between a performer an a true hip hop artist and a rapper! With that being said I believe every true hiphop (artist) will an only write there on lyrics for the exception of maybe yo this might be a tight hook or another person makes the hook for you still with that if your a True hip hop artist with the real passion an heart for music when your doing a song you have the vision for what you want for the hook! The idea spark! Then there's the performs who speak for the artist that can't who ghost write there raps but too many of these performs are pretending to be true hip hop artist using ghost writers! That is not true hip hop! Im 23 years old an Im from Kansas city Missouri grew up listening to MCs like mos def and common..... I'm use to music having a meaning a story behind they lyrics something out side the box! So the question should rappers write there own lyrics??? Makes me laugh because I feel what the industry betrays what a rapper is are flashy money bands throwing all my cars and jewelry rent type! So for me the word rapper is not even real anymore! Your either a hip hop artist, mcee,performer,or a rapper! Like I said IMO rappers are all fake so there not ment to write there on raps their industry fed and created for money not for inspirations for others to come up! I know I got off a lil from the topic but only the real can relate I'm a hip hop artist my self so I have strong views on the topic! In hip hop its not what your saying its how your saying it! So saying your a rapper you put your self in the category of being fake an not writing your own lyrics in the first place! Only the real can relate! I'm just sick of these soap opera rappers prospering betraying to be real!
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I think any musician should write their own music, regarding of genre. I don't care if you are a Jazz singer, I personally feel that a part of your "talent" should be your ability to say something from your heart in a song.

Rappers especially should have this skill...because, let's be honest, you aren't dancing and making harmonies and all of that should be speaking from the heart about the world you come from.

Mach Keys

I'm neutral with this.

Here's my view points:
  • Yes - that's the purest way to resonate & connect with others
  • Yes - it makes no sense, to only perform other people's works & not your own
  • Yes - otherwise, what are they doing that's considered "art?"
  • No - it creates more job opportunities for songwriters
  • No - it allows the artist to develop in other areas
  • No - the artist may be on a writer's block
Battle Points: 1
lol this debate is hilarious.

Honestly there are many forms of Art. Once you stop putting a label on everything and shoving it into a box you will realize no ones art is the same. Similar? yes. Exact? no.

There are various different ways people express themselves in relation to hip hop. Now im not defending Drake but I look at Drake as a great Rap Performer/Entertainer. When you stop trying to compare drake's artistic perception of hip hop to your favorite rappers perception and vice versa you will be able to appreciate something from all of artists. A true MC's path to creating a hit is slightly different and garners even more respect from me for writing his own lyrics. The end result is the same. Drake not writing his raps are is like an asterisk mark, but he still makes bangers and sells out arenas. The Patroits SuperBowls have asteriks on em to some, but good luck beating them on sundays LOL.

There are a lot of diff components that make up any one track. The equation is diff for every artist, Drake happens to have the most cooks in the kitchen to get it done but hey that's his business! You wont find any Yung thug on my Ipod im not a fan, but I can say his beats are hot and his cadence on them usually is catchy. But that's me ignoring his lyrics and breaking down his style. I dont look at him as any less of an artist either hes just not a rapper, or a MC, or anything lol he's an entertainer.

Beat Maker
Rap Artist
Rap Performer

Pick a couple and bang out your next hit lol


@Fade I think it was Evidence from Dilated peoples who said that "...emcee's without a voice should write a book...or not." The idea being, not just about having the actual voice for it (some rappers just sound nasally or weird; you can probably think of one or two,) but having something to actually say. I don't even trust rappers who have help writing their shit. Being a rapper is about having a firm grasp on words, language, metaphors, similies; you know, punches to throw. Originally, rap was often about societal issues, politics and day to day struggles; that's where it came from. Nowadays, regardless of all of the sub-genres, Hip Hop should remain lyrical, even if it isn't talking about large or personal issues. Sometimes it is enough to just have a battle of words, like a poetry slam or something. Hell, R.A. The Rugged Man is a great example. He can do a track that is politically charged or he can just come up with a bunch of clever tongue-twisters and shit. At the end of the day, whatever style you have chosen (or has chosen you,) you need to be writing your own shit, otherwise, you're just a fraud; no gray areas. Too harsh? How about this. What if your producer had someone else make the tracks for him and he just picked the songs he liked for you, as a rapper? I'll bet you might want to skip over him (after questioning why you were paying him for beats and production,) and seek out the guy who was actually making the music. Ghostwriting doesn't just reek of illegitimacy, it is one more way rappers sneak into The Culture (not to be confused with The Industry,) pretending to be someone who they aren't. I actually like some of the rappers on Dre's Compton album who were like, "I've never been a thug or sold drugs or caught a body, but I run with people who have." That's real.
And, one more thing. More and more trap/mumble rappers nowadays are saying that they don't live or do what they rap about about. Really? All you rap about is guns, a body count, and drug selling/use. This begs the question: What are you real about?


The Beat Strangler
*** illest o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
@eXACT Well said. One thing too is that it's possible for someone to be dope at freestyling but to write an actual song is different. It's like someone that's great at telling a story but can't write a story on paper, so they need help. I've even seen plenty of people write articles that were good but could have been much better if they had a better grasp on how to structure what they're writing.


@2GooD Productions I agree. How the hell do you lay claim to a track when someone else made the music and someone else wrote the lines? That makes you a puppet rapper.
@Fade I can see how people who freestyle might have difficulty tying together a track. Just because Immortal Technique, Snoop or Eminem can spit shit off the top of their head and write full-on songs, doesn't mean it comes as naturally to everyone.
That being said, I don't remember any rapper who said they fell out of the womb being able to spit...not in all seriousness, anyway. I think that if a person has an eye and an ear for words in any sense, they can better themselves in other, similar avenues. Nas admitted that he was more of a writer, and always, has been, and being like "How the fuck am I supposed to spit this shit live." He worked his ass off on his delivery, and I think it paid off. Even Biggie mentioned he lacked conviction and punch when he started out. I think that if you're good at something, you can become better at it with some work.
And? One more thing. Some people were not born to spit. I have seen kids try and try and even if they have the physical skills, they just can't write or create anything clever. This one kid back in the day, I rememer he couldn't write, but he could flow and freestyle like a motherfucker. The thing was, all his rhymes and freestyles were always lame-ass, "I'm gonna fuck your mom and kill you," type trash. It was weak. You can't just talk shit all day and expect any one take you seriously. I think that writing and studying language is essential to being a good rapper, and I think it takes even more than that to be an emcee of any note.
(Some dude tore up that kid who had trash lines with a hilarious verse that I still remember the end of: "******'s last verse was sick/ don't even say maybe/ I ain't never heard shit like that from someone who got dropped on their head as a baby." And the guy didn't say "baby." He stuck the mic out to the people watching the battle and they said it. That kid got killed by the crowd. XD )

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