When the news of Nas purportedly using ghostwriters (Jay Electronica and Dead Prez's stic.man) on his Untitled LP hit the internet, keep-it-realers lost their shit. How could hip-hop's prodigal son and one of the few rappers with mainstream appeal that still put it down with some integrity commit the cardinal hip-hop sin? Everything from his well-received new LP to hits from years past were put under the microscope. Nas became a husband who'd been caught with rubbers in his truck. The hip-hop police (fans and bloggers) became paranoid wives all of a sudden: "Was he fuckin' my cousin?" "Was that business trip he went on just an excuse to see that other bitch?" "He did eyeball that Chick-Fil-A cashier last week. Maybe the nigga fucked her!"
Bullshit. DJ Khaled's "Hip-Hop" (featuring Nas, DJ Premier, and Scarface) hit the streets (internet) last week, but what the fuck did Khaled do on the song? Nothin'! He kept the weed flowing at the recording session, that's what. Being a celebrity is all about doin' nothin' and still collecting props at this point, so fuckin' what? Can't raise a fuss with Nas and not raise a fuss in other cases. That said, I seriously doubt Nas used ghostwriters on any song in his entire catalog except maybe one, and even that's a 3AM-talkin'-crazy-with-a-blunt-in-your-mouth epiphany. I only suspect four other clandestine cases of ghostwriting besides the one Nas song in question. I Read on to see the artists, songs and suspected real writers.
5. Nas: “Ether”
POSSIBLE GHOSTWRITER: The Jaz
The only Nas song that I felt could ever be the least bit undeserving of a lone “N.Jones” footnote underneath it was “Ether,” his own personal “No Vaseline” toward “a camel” named Jay-Z. Even upon its release, I always felt the rhymes could’ve easily been authored (or co-authored) by Jay-Z’s erstwhile partner in rhyme, The Jaz. Someone extremely close to Young Hov (who also had some issues with him at points) would be the one to air out a lot of the info used for Nas’ ammo. But the right to air someone out in rap comes with a money clause. Jaz would never be able to get a fair one with Jay-Z on wax without the general public claiming jealousy of Mr. Carter’s funds and status. Hov is protected from ridicule or criticism via tax bracket - only a true peer in all categories (Nas was a peer in at least some categories circa 2001) or Warren Buffet are in a position to say they don’t like him and can still avoid being tossed under the Greyhound and called a "hater." (Try having the name “J-Zone” and admitting to not liking a Jay-Z song publicly.) The ultimate clue? “From Shawn Carter to Jay-Z, damn, you on Jaz dick.” Not saying Nas didn’t write this (tempo-wise, “Ether” is slow as fuck for Jaz standards), but someone somewhere definitely got high and considered it when the accusations hit. Still a severe stretch, high or sober.
4. The Watch the Throne LP
POSSIBLE GHOSTWRITER: Gwyneth Paltrow
Even the most uppity Negroes I know couldn’t be this ostentatious. Big Tymer$ claimed to have purchased unnecessary, over-the-top things (e.g. "a platinum football field"), usually as largesse, but then the ratchet came out when Birdman put a jacuzzi in the middle of his living room. There was nothing hood rich or ratchet about WTT, though. This album was fuckin' bourgeois, like these two niggas would buy abalone meat to make soup broth. The shit went to a level that would make Zsa Zsa Gabor say, “Can’t these guys humble the fuck out and do anything for humanity?” But Jay and Ye didn’t write this, Paltrow did. Only a middle-aged, stankin’ rich white broad who’d name her child Apple Blythe could live with the level of insouciance needed to pen stuff like WTT. Yes, Gwen. You’re that nigga (in Paris) for real!
3. Rick Ross: “MMG Untouchable”
POSSIBLE GHOSTWRITER: Wesley Snipes
Beating charges and droppin’ cases, goin gram for gram, countin’ grands, being “a nigga versus the state.” Sounds a bit like Nino Brown to me. Snipes knows a thing or two about playing a big time drug honcho for the cameras; he could’ve given Rozay valuable career advice and a verse or two from his old notebooks. Don’t believe it? Ross gives himself away in the third line of the song: “I got me a ghost[writer].”
2. Lil’ Kim: “Not Tonight”
POSSIBLE GHOSTWRITER: Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Lil’ Kim was just a horny jackrabbit in her youth. Biggie helped shape her into a star, but there had to be an OG in the studio to help her understand that even a slut must be more selective. Only someone who’d been down a road paved with lousy dick could write multiple verses about four pump chumps. Dr. Ruth is a hardcore old broad. She surely rocked ‘em to sleep in her heyday and has the experience necessary to help a female MC beat the men at their own game. Westheimer has streamlined the sexually maladroit for years, and her fingerprints are all over Kim's debut.
1. Every Nutcracker verse on the Group Home’s Livin’ Proof LP
POSSIBLE GHOSTWRITER: Dr. Seuss
Fuck the naysayers; I always enjoyed Nutcracker's rhyme style. But you best believe he had help from an old school legend. The author of the rudimentary children’s books that raised generations faxed the previously-unpublished hood editions of his volumes from his office at 17 Heaven Pl. to the offices of Payday records in NYC, attn: Nutcracker, circa 1995. The utter simplicity of the riddles (“When I take flight / like who, kid? / like Mike!”), the sheer predictability of the rhyme schemes ("Yeah, you know what I'm sayin' / no time to be playin', cause these niggas be delayin'")...there are too many similarities between Nutcracker’s rhymes on the Group Home LP and Seuss’ classic The Cat In The Hat . It makes me wonder if the man was searching for street cred from heaven. The brilliant Dr. Seuss may have been gone since ‘91, but he found his posthumous calling as a ghost writer and has seen business skyrocket in recent years with the advent of newer artists (e.g. Soulja Boy*) seeking his services.
Side note: These facts do NOT imply that Soulja Boy is of the same ilk as Nutcracker. I’d buy a Nutcracker solo LP on all four media formats. That guy was fuckin’ entertaining and had more personality and style than 70% of the rap game at the time and 98% of the rap game now.