About a week or so ago, Kid Cudi released a legion of tweets questioning the legitimacy of artists who require a staff of writers to create a “hot 16″ and ultimately set the internet ablaze. Amongst his many tweets on the subject was a very direct call out of self-proclaimed” Hip-Hop heads” favorite punching bag Drake and Cudi’s former mentor, Kanye. Although his attack of their legitemacy seemed unprovoked and ultimately made him look as if he was seeking attention, he made a very valid point within questioning this taboo in Hip-Hop. Although EVERY major artist who has ever released any type of musical project has collaborated with numerous artists on their work in order to deliver a phenomenal body of music to the masses, Drake’s recent Quentin Miller fiasco has caused the legitimacy of every project he has ever released to be questioned. Although critique of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is valid due to the extent of Quentin’s help on the songs he & Drake collaborated with, critique of his entire discography is hypocritical due to the amount of Rap artists we turn a blind eye and ear to regardless of the amount of outside help they receive with their pen.
Held as the “Walt Disney of our time” per his own request, Kanye West has received as much, if not more outside help on EVERY project he has ever released than Drake, but has somehow avoided criticism and critique of his integrity as a musician. Even after Cudi seemed to blast both Ye & Drake, all the focus of his rant immediately was directed at Drake, as has every critique of “ghost writing” or co writers over the last 12 months. Just as we pick and choose which artist we want to currently hold the title of “Best rapper alive”, we as a culture seem to dictate which artists we feel should avoid scrutiny. In the numerous debates I’ve gotten into about the amount of artist who have written for Kanye throughout the entirety of his career(Rhymefest, Consequnce, Cudi, Chance, DRAKE, etc.), the answer I always find myself greeted with is “He’s more than just a rapper, it’s not the same as when other rappers do it!” or “It’s more than just about lyrics with Ye, do you even know that he produces all of his own work!?”. Although probably having one of the best Rap discographies if not the best, what good is it if a multitude of other artists are responsible for writing it? One of the best things about Rap music is knowing that another SOLE person was responsible for constructing the paring of words and metaphors that we love and repeat over a blaring 808′. Although people are listed as co-writers for a variety of reasons from just being in the same room as the lead writer to provide inspiration or suggesting that the writer/artist use a certain word over another, the difference between a co writer and a ghost writer/writer(because some writers do receive credit for their work) is vastly different.
On Hardcore, Rap ICON Lil’ Kim was praised for her hardcore delivery and her seemingly identical lyrical ability to her mentor and Rap icon/legend the Notorious B.I.G. Years after she reigned as the Queen of Rap, we would come out to find that BIG’s influence on the project was so strong because he was a writer on it. When a reference track for album cut “Queen Bitch” surfaced, we once again completely ignored it and pretended as if it didn’t exist. Although the majority of her career occurred after the untimely murder of her mentor, it’s undeniable that Hardcore set the wheels in motion for the legendary and groundbreaking career she would go on to have. Just like Kanye, Kim’s placement and influence on the culture should never be questioned, but their legitimacy as an MC is something that can be. If we as a culture are going to rightfully start critiquing artists for their choice to outsource help to write their lyrics and force them to push their pen on their own, we need to critique ALL of the MC’s who fall under that umbrella.