Lupe Fiasco, CyHi The Prynce, and Fonzworth Bentley on Kanye West's "Black Skinhead"
Writers: Kanye West, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Thomas Bangalter, Malik Jones, Cydel Young, Elon Rutberg, Wasalu Jaco. Sakiya Sandifer, Mike Dean, Derrick Watkins
There are weird writing credits all over Kanye West's Yeezus (CyHi is listed on 9 of 10 tracks), but Lupe Fiasco and Fonzworth Bentley show up solely on "Black Skinhead". Lupe makes sense given the political leanings of the track, but what Fonzworth contributed is anyone's guess.
It's no secret that Dr. Dre's verses are largely written for him, though he usually opts for verses lesser known rappers like Mel-Man. As the lead single for his comeback album though, Dre decided to go with the best of the best, enlisting Jay Z to write on the track.
It's not clear whether Jay wrote the entire verse or worked together with Dre, as his name appears as a writer through his production credit either way. Also notable in the fine print is Scott Storch, who provided the keys on the project-- making the song quite an exercise in collaboration.
Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole on The Game's "Drug Test"
Writers: J. Taylor, A. Young, C. Broadus, K. Abdul-Rahman, D. Tannenbaum, S. Jordan, S. Benton, K. Lamar, J. Cole, E. Hayes, B. Honeycutt
The Game's R.E.D. Album was notable for its many features, but looking at the writing credits revealed even more names. On "Drug Test", both Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are listed as composers. Nothing in the song sounds particularly like something the would write, and K.Dot tends to be a pretty visible ghostwriter ("The Recipe" anyone?), so what they contributed is anyone's guess.
"Yeah, we had some work to do with that," Kendrick said of the song, but indicated he was not deeply involved in the songwriting process. "With writer's credit, it can be anything from a melody, to just an idea thrown into the air. As long as they give you the credit for it, it doesn't initially have to be the writing though. I just threw a few ideas in the air."
Writers: Nicholas Balding, Mark Kragen, Chris Brown, Tyrone Griffin, Jr., Robert Brackins, Dwayne Carter, Karim Kharbouch, Stanley Cox, Omololu Akinlolu, Mason Betha, Sean Combs, Christopher Wallace, Todd Shaw, Asha Puthli, Deric Angelettie, Michael Stevenson
Chris Brown's "Loyal" has been out since last December, but it's really starting to pick up steam now. While it's not produced by DJ Mustard, it definitely operates in the same ratchet&b/pop crossover that recent songs like Ty Dolla $ign's "Paranoid" and Kid Ink's "Show Me" have mastered.
It makes sense then that one of the principle songwriter's behind the song is Ty Dolla $ign himself. Who explained his role in a recent interview. "I wrote the first verse and the hook, and then he wrote the second verse," he said.
Upon further assessment, the song definitely bears the Beach House singer's vocal inflection.
Writers: Kimberly Jones, Mason Betha, Christopher Wallace, Cameron Giles
While you might be quick to assume that Kim's verse was written for her, Cam'ron revealed that he was actually taken on to write for Lil Cease, who the song was originally intended for (Kim weirdly does not even appear on the version from her album).
There's levels to this shit however, as it was Mase who was originally set to write for Cease, but decided to split some of that writing cash with Cam. It's not clear whether Mase actually contributed anything to the song-- which would make Cam a ghostwriter's ghostwriter.
“What happened was, [Untertainment CEO Lance] Un [Rivera] gave Mase $30,000 to write five songs for Lil’ Cease at that time and Mase gave me $5,000 of the 30 to write one or two of the songs…" said Cam'ron. ""I wrote the ‘Crush On You’ song and they ended up keeping it for Lil’ Kim album but it was really for Lil’ Cease. The original ‘Crush on You’ is all Lil’ Cease, Lil’ Kim isn’t even on the record.”
It is worth noting however, that Kim did have some help from Biggie, who recorded a few reference tracks for songs from her debut album.
Ice Cube for Eazy-E on N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton" Album
Writers: Ice Cube, MC Ren, Krazy D, Arabian Prince, The D.O.C.
If you look at the writing credits on N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton, you'll notice that despite 7 of the 13 tracks, Eazy-E's name does not appear once. With the exception of MC Ren, Cube served as the primary writer for the other members of the group at this point.
In fact, he even worked a credit into Eazy's verse on "8 Ball"-- "Ice Cube writes the rhymes, that I say" --in case you didn't take the time to scan the fine print.
OVO's Hush on "Take Care" and "Nothing Was The Same"
Writing Credits: 10 songs on NWTS, 11 on Take Care
While Drake and 40 are often credited as the songwriting team behind Take Care, and Nothing Was The Same, another important contributor is OVO member Hush. While there's no way of knowing exactly what Hush puts into the songs, it's enough to grant him with writing credits on more than half of the songs on Drake's last two albums, including "Worst Behaviour", "HYFR", "Headlines", "Wu Tang Forever" and more.
Drake has detailed Hush's contributions in interviews:
"Probably the most important person in the equation is Hush, who is a friend of mine who grew up rapping in Toronto and he’s present every night. If anyone knows what I’m capable of, it’s Hush. We love rap the same way and we have the same exact ear. So I know he’s hearing what I’m hearing. I never take criticism personally from anyone. I love feedback, but especially when it comes to Hush. He understands rap probably better than anyone else I mentioned. And he’s a close friend of mine."
Jay Z on Bugs Bunny's "Buggin'"
Writers: Sean Carter, James Newton Howar, Dominique Owen, Dominique Trenier
Believe it or not, Bugs does does not write his own shit. If you were surprised when you heard the strength of the cartoon character's bars on the Space Jam soundtrack, you now know that a legendary rapper was behind them. If you straighten the raps out from their animated delivery, you can almost hear Jay Z's flow. To put things in perspective, Space Jam came out in 1996, just shortly after Jay's classic, but then under-appreciated debut, Reasonable Doubt.
Writers: D. Mills, F. Najm, J. Jenkins, J. Englishman, J. Bhasker, K. West, M. Jones, P. Doyle, S. Mescudi, A. Williams
As with much of Kanye West's work-- especially in his later career --808s and Heartbreak was a highly collaborative process. Working closely with the production team of Jeff Bhasker and Mike Dean throughout, Kanye also invited quite a few artists to join the writing process.
Kid Cudi-- whose influence is audibly apparent on the album --wrote on four songs, including "Welcome To Heartbreak" which he guests on. More surprisingly, Jeezy's name shows up on three songs-- again, one of which he contributes vocals to.
Both Cudi and Jeezy wrote on "Robocop", which also houses the album's sole T-Pain writing credit, and sports the longest list of contributors, including Esthero and GOOD Music's Tony Williams.
Nas On Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy With It"
Writers: Samuel Barnes, Bernard Edwards, Joe Robinson, Nile Rodgers, Will Smith, Nas (Uncredited)|
It's long been speculated that Nas is responsible for Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy With It". As far a cry as it is from the rapper's solo work, it has been said that he was present in the studio during it's creation, and that Will was adamant that he be involved in the process.
We have not been including uncredited contributions in this list otherwise, but in this case, Nas has actually confirmed his involvement.
In a new Reddit AMA, the rapper cleared things up once and for all, indicating that while he did offer a few lines to the song, Smith is the real mind behind it.
"Alright, let's clear this up once and for all.
I hung out with Will in the studio. And watched him write it. It was a fun studio session, and I said a line or two or three to him. It wasn't that serious. Will Smith wrote that song.
But seriously, I watched him have fun making that record on his own, and Will is a true MC."
Take a look at our list of 10 surprising contributors to popular rap songs.
There's a lot going on behind the scenes that isn't readily apparent from listening to a song. Though sometimes, a simple investigation of writing credits can tell you a lot.
"Ghostwriting" by its proper definition refers to contributions from rappers who have not been credited-- which is a pretty grey area. Rather than look into rumors surrounding that type of writing (with one exception), we've looked into what's available in print, but may have gone relatively unnoticed-- official songwriting credits.
While we may never have the full story on many of these songs, the liner notes definitely give a better insight into how they were created.
Flip through the gallery above, and let us know which surprised you the most.