Five Classic Rap Tracks With Ghostwriter Lineage

Hip Hop Artist Nas in New York City, July 2012. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Hive Five: Our daily listicle of musical musings

Last week’s contribution to the growing list of things acceptable to make fun of Nas about involved claims that he’d used fellow rappers Jay Electronica and Stic.Man to ghost-write rhymes for his Untitled album. It’s always good value to mock the perpetually misguided Nasir, but as many commentators were quick to point out, the practice of rappers penning lyrics for other rappers to recite is nothing new. Here then are Hive’s favorite pre-Nas cases of one artist making someone else’s shit tighter.

1. Kool G Rap vs. Salt ‘N’ Pepa (1986)

Before they found fame as pop-rap princesses, Salt ‘N’ Pepa recorded an exhilaratingly raw and exceptionally bitchy debut album titled Hot, Cool & Vicious. Among the women’s lib-styled doozies was “Chick on the Side,” which saw the song’s female protagonist taking a cheating guy to task. The track’s author? Queens gangsta rap icon Kool G Rap, who’d soon go on to write songs like the charming “Break a Bitch Neck.” Empathy! (See also: G Rap’s fellow Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane writing for Biz Markie and Roxanne Shante.)

2. Run-DMC vs. the Beastie Boys (1986)

“Paul Revere” may be a touching tale of how “one lone Beastie” soon expanded to become a horse and beer loving rap trio, but the song-writing credits also include input from Darryl McDaniels – a.k.a. one-third of the equally legendary hip-hop threesome Run-DMC.

3. Ice Cube vs. Eazy-E (and N.W.A.) (1987)

Ice Cube embraced the role of ghost-writer for a chunk of the early N.W.A. catalog, but he held the jheri-curled Eazy-E in special esteem and crafted much of his first raps. Although when the results are as entertaining as Eazy’s debut album, Eazy-Duz-It, who cares who technically writes the rhymes? (Underscoring Eazy’s commitment to equality of opportunity, MC Ren also contributed heavily to the project.)

4. Young M.C. vs. Tone Loc (1988)

Possibly after the knocking back a few too many glasses of funky cold medina, gravelly-voiced ex-Crip gang member Tone Loc persuaded fellow aspiring rap chap Young M.C. to pen what became his break-out song, “Wild Thing.” It’s unsure what Robert Palmer thought of big Tone’s idea to spoof his “Addicted to Love” video though.

5. Grandmaster Caz vs. the Sugarhill Gang (1979)

The granddaddy of rhyme biting more than a case of officially sanctioned ghost-writing, rap legend has it that the lyrics Big Bank Hank recited on “Rapper’s Delight” were actually ones he overheard Cold Crush Brothers mainstay Grandmaster Caz spitting previously. The bit where Hank calls himself Casanova Fly, one of Caz’s rap aliases, might be something of a giveaway. Welcome to the music business, kids!

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