Forbes wrote a feature on the practice and talked to Skillz, whose 2000 song “Ghostwriter” brought to the fore his work in the trade. He recorded as Mad Skillz at the time.
“I think about what they’ve already done and what they’ve already said,” Skillz says in the Forbes story, which was published today (September 22), about his work writing for other artists. “I don’t want to cover any topics he has already covered … Hypothetically, if you’re writing for Dr. Dre you don’t want to talk about The Chronic again.”
Smoke DZA, who has written for Sean Kingston and others, explains why some rappers employ ghostwriters.
“Some emcees are just great at writing raps and they suck at writing hooks, so they might have somebody write them the hook,” he says. “It’s just the hook, but if the hook is the most important part of the song, do you call that ghostwriting?”
Skyzoo, who says he writes for several artists, adds that he looks at ghostwriting in more than one way.
“A lot of times people think, ‘Oh, they got credit, so they’re not a ghostwriter,’ but you kind of still are if it’s not common knowledge that you worked on the record,” Skyzoo says. “Especially in the digital era with Spotify and Tidal, you’re not even getting the credits [in liner notes] anymore.”