Ghostwriting: GOAT

Ghostwriting Of All Times


The conversation that is almost as old as Hip Hop itself would be the G.O.A.T. conversation. With that comes the almost taboo discussion of writing, most importantly ‘Ghostwriting.” It is a forbidden word within the culture, a word that is whispered, often replaced with slang and asterisks, yet it is as much a part of hip hop as oven cleaner fat caps, broken down cardboard boxes and pennies on the needle.


Within the groups, the discussions and the forums the goal post for this often varies and moves as to what is and what is not considered to be ‘Ghostwriting.’

To begin this conversation one has to determine what constitutes as writing? What entitles you normally to credit?



Generally anyone that contributes content to the track is listed as a writer and entitled to credit. This could be anyone in the room, the crew or the group including input from the producer. Now if one decides they do not want to be listed or paid, does that change the claim that they have contributed?


The next item would be to consider what is considered as contributing? This is where the argument begins. Technically “anything from a word or two in the studio, to legitimately writing a whole song” counts. This includes bars, hooks and verses, and this is where the fancy footwork begins, the goal posts being moved, the asterisks and the fancy slang to do anything to protect their favorite lyricists. Bring up certain names and the term ‘Ghostwriting’ quickly becomes collaborating, supporting and most recently vibin'. Other allowances and exceptions begin to show themselves; Hooks, random words or lines, the homies contributing in the studio all become okay so that fans can keep their favorites in the fight.


This becomes even more suspect when rappers roll in teams, groups and collectives. This group dynamic in the studio makes it even easier for words, lines and concepts to be floated around, given or suggested. Again many will discount this, saying that it doesn't count especially if the input comes from the producer, but "you should say it like this" or "you should change that" or whatever definitely falls into the category of contributing and from there is deserving of credit.



As kids of hip hop, we bought into the façade, the illusion of authenticity. Rappers were held at this high standard, that they were who they said and told their own stories in their own words. This has been proven fraudulent time and time again, with many rappers taking their names from media or real gangsters, having never sold the drugs, “are not real gangsters, talk(ing) about bodies they never caught, jail time they never did.” If the image of the rapper has been constructed, who’s to say the rest isn’t as well. If a rapper would lie about himself, what would stop him from lying about his writing practices as well?


This as a metric for the G.O.A.T. conversation makes no sense, it is unverifiable and everyone has either taken part or has become suspect. Most rappers have been a part of crews, collectives, groups or duos in their career and have collaborated together, spent countless nights in the studios together and suspect of what would be considered ‘writing camps.’ It seems within the industry that in one form or another 'Ghostwriting' is widely accepted and practiced, and always has been.


It makes little sense to me that you would have a room full of high level professional musicians and they wouldn't collectively contribute to a song, especially when so many emcees say " it don't fucking matter, A hit record matters!"



Hip hop is full of confirmed writers, confirmed Ghostwriters and 'Ghosts' that are true to the word keeping their clients identities secret. On top of this you have the decades of stories, rumors and interview slips.

This has been a conversation that has intrigued me for quite a while. I can remember the time I have spent flipping through liner notes listening to albums, checking for writers, samples, and features. The talk of top 10, top 5 or the GOAT with removing those that have broken this rule, vastly condenses the list, and those that remain are suspect still. I have dug into the internet and compiled a long list of artists that have used ghostwriters and would say in most cases these statements have been stated by multiple industry people, or confirmed by the artists themselves. The list is generated by artist followed by ghostwriters;




50 Cent - Krondon, Youngbuck (rumored)

Baby - Smitty

Beastie Boys - Run DMC, LL Cool J,

Big Bank Hank - Grandmaster Caz

Big Boi - Andre 3000 (Ceelo in XXL Interview)

Big L - Mase

Birdman - Gillie da Kid, Lil Wayne

Biz Markie - Big Daddy Kane

Bone Thugs N Harmony - The D.O.C.

Bow Wow - T.I., Jadakiss, Da Brat, Kurupt, Slim

Bushwick Bill - Scarface, Willie D

Cam'ron - Jadakiss, Mase

Cardi B - Pardison Fontaine

Chali Baltimore - Jadakiss

Ceelo - Bruno Mars,

Common - Rhymefest

Dr. Dre - Jay Z, Smitty, The D.O.C., Ice Cube, Eminem, K.Dot, Knoc-turn'al, Slim da Mobster, Nas, Royce da 5'9, Snoop Dogg, MF Grimm, Rick Ross, Rakim, J. Flexx, Xzibit, MC Ren, King Los

Drake - Quentin Miller,

Eazy E - Ice Cube, MC Ren

Eminem - D12 (Infinite)

Eve - Cassidy

Fat Joe - Big Pun, Nas, Triple Seis,

Foxy Brown - Jay Z, Nas, Skillz,

Game - 50 Cent, K.Dot, J.Cole, others rumored.

Geto Boys - J Prince

Ghostface - Method Man, Lord Superb, Trife Da God

Grandmaster Flash & Furious 5 - Duke Bobtee & Mel

Ice Cube - The D.O.C, Del Tha Funky Homosapien (rumored)

Ice T - Del Tha Funky Homosapien (rumored), King-T (rumored)

Iggy Azaelia - T.I (rumored), MC Skeme,

J.Cole - Bas from Dreamville (rumored)

Jay Z - Mase (I Just want to Love you co wrote with Pharrell), Kanye West, Jaz-O, and rumored on 4:44 J.Cole, Memphis Bleek, No I.D.

Jermaine Dupri - Jay Z, Skillz,

Jim Jones - Max B

JJ Fad - The D.O.C

Kanye West - Consequence, Rhymefest, Cyhi The Prince, Lupe Fiasco, Pardison Fontaine, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, Chance The Rapper, Pusha T, Common, Malik Yusek, GLC, Fontaine, Drake

Kendrick Lamar - Punch (TDE), Terrence Martin, Krondon

Kool G Rap - Percy Carey

Kurupt - Crooked I, Problem

Lauryn Hill - Robert Glasper,

Lil Cease - Notorious B.I.G., Cam'ron, Mase

Lil Flip - Yung Redd,

Lil Kim - Jay Z, Cam'ron, Notorious B.I.G.,

Lil Wayne - Ghille da kid, Currensy, Nicki Minaj,

Lil Zane - Mase

Lisa Lefteye Lopez - Tracey Horton,

LL Cool J - various, LA Breeze, Bobcat,

Loon - Smitty

Memphis Bleek - Jay Z,

Mase - Big L (Mase on Shade 45 interview), Cam'ron, Skillz,

MC Breed - 2PAC, The D.O.C

MC Lyte - LL Cool J, Smitty

Meek Mill - Beanie Sigel,

Meg The Stallion - Writing camps, Wolftyla,

Nas - Stic.man, Jay Electronica, Cormega (Affirmative Action), Large Professor,

Nicki Minaj - Ransom, Safaree, Samuels, Gizzle

Notorious B.I.G. - Jadakiss (Co-wrote Mo Money, Mo Problems, Last Days), Ma$e (112's Only U verse, Co-wrote Mo Money Mo Problems), Jay Z (Hypnotize)

N.W.A. - Ice Cube, The D.O.C.,MC Ren

Ol Diry Bastard - RZA, GZA,

Philly's Most Wanted - Mase

Post Malone - Joey Badass, T-Pain

Puff Daddy - Jadakiss, Smitty, Sauce Money, Nas, Rick Ross, Pharoahe Monch, Notorious B.I.G., Royce 5'9, Skillz, Fabolous, Gizzle, King Los,

Queen Latifah - Apache, Treach(rumored),

Rakim - Tracey Horton

Remy Ma - Papoose

Rick Ross - Nicki Minaj

Roxanne Shante - Kool G Rap, Tracey Horton, Big Daddy Kane

Run DMC - LL Cool J, Treach

RZA - Lord Superb,

Salt-N-Pepa - Kool G Rap, Freddie Foxx,

Slim Thug - Jay Z

Snoop Dogg - Jay Z, The D.O.C., Shawty Redd, Problem, Krondon, Scoe, Xzibit, Gizzle

State Property - Beanie Sigel,

Styles P - Jadakiss (Jenny From the Block - Remix)

T.I. - Gizzle

Talib Kweli - Math Hoffa (rumored)

Timbaland - Jay Z

Tone Loc - Young MC

Travis Scott - Kanye West, Cyhi The Prince, Gizzle

Trina - Rick Ross,

Trick Daddy - Rick Ross (rumored)

Truth Hurts - Smitty

Ty Dolla Sign - Gizzle, Brittany B

2PAC - Spice 1, Ray Luv, Deadly Threat (rumored), Treach (rumored),

Twista/Mobstability - The D.O.C.,

Will Smith - Smitty, Nas, Common, Jay Z, Skillz, Masta Ace, Kel Spencer,

Wutang - Smoke DZA

YC - Future

Xzibit - Krondon




And the list of Ghostwriters that seem to keep their secrets include:

Mad Skillz admits to writing with over 100 songs, Kendrick, J. Cole, Freddie Gibbs, Krondon, Hittman, J-Flexx, Boogie, Common, Bumpy Knuckles, Britney Barber and Tracey Horton admits to working with over 65 acts.




Sources: Vlad TV, Shade45, My Expert Opinion Podcast, Allhiphop, Genius, Factmag, XXL, Vibe Magazine, WatchLoud, Hot97, 247HH.com, DEHH,

10 Rap Hits and their Ghostwriters - henry Adaso

The Secret Ghostwriters of Hip Hop - Sarah Thompson (BBC.Com)

Hip Hops 10 greatest Ghostwriters - XXL Magazine

Why Ghostwriting is good for hip hop - Genius

Ghostwriting in Hip Hop - Dead End Hip Hop

Ghostwriting: How it works & Why Its Necessary - The Company Man





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