I love Nas. A lot. Which is why I'm a litte butt-hurt that right now he's under fire following accusations that his 2008 release, Untitled (Nigger), was ghostwritten by Jay Electronica and Dead Prez's Sticman.
The rap journalist, dream hampton, began the shitstorm during a Twitter debate about Nas and Jay-Z.
Interesting point young man, but you're about to be upstaged:
Umm, ouch. dream is a writer I've long admired, but I don't really get why she decided to casually throw Nas to the wolves like that. As a veteran commenter on the scene, I'm sure she's aware ghostwriting is still one of the biggest no-nos in hip-hop and that Nas has built his career on being the archetypal lyricist. Did no-one ever tell her that loose tweets sink fleets?
Anway, Frank William Miller Junior, founder of Rappers I Know, was quick to respond in a post titled, "Nas Lost (Ghostwriters)" where he stated:
"When it's public knowledge that the 'greatest lyricist' of our era, has ghost writers, what does that mean? The answer is clear, though, right? This is a travesty, an innocence-murdering moment in which a hip-hop hero is exposed and will never be the same again."
Alright, calm down son. "Innocence-murdering?" Really?!
Personally, I don't find the idea of using a ghostwriter so much a "travesty" as an inevitability. I get that for hardline rap fans it conjures up the image of some downtrodden genius behind the scenes, slaving away writing lyrics, only for some millionaire to parrot them out onstage and get his dick sucked for the pleasure. But I don't see it like that.
Frankly, every sentence that comes out of an MC's mouth could be ghostwritten by James Joyce and Biggie, but I honestly don't think I'd give one if it wasn't backed up by that x factor which creates the greatest rappers. No-one's going to tell me "9 11" is anything other than shouting cool shit again and again. But it's amazing.
Getting ghostwritten won't automatically turn you into a good MC, it'll just turn you into the shittiest Top Trump card in the world: "OK, cool lyrics, umm, just wondering where your flow, storytelling ability, attitude and all the other multiple nuances which ingratiate people to an artist are?"
Secondly, aren't most pieces of writing a collaborative effort? You don't think Dickens had an editor? You don't think Matt and Trey have a team of writers to develop ideas with? Nas has been writing lyrics for six billion years, trying to revitalise himself with collaborators seems like a good idea to me.
Anyway, last night Sticman took to his Facebook to shut everyone up with:
"As far as the rumors about myself and jay electronika ghost writing for Nas, let me say this. Nas is one of the if not the most prolific original lyricist to EVER do it. My contributions to his album was a collaboration and an honor and under his direction of what he wanted to convey and say. Haters cant discredit that man's genuis. Nas is the Don."
Well said Stic. End of discussion.