Rick Ross: A Ghostwriter All Along

A dull moment is never something one would associate with Rick Ross. With his eighth studio album, Black Market, on its way, slated for release December 9th, Ross has been very vocal about one of the album’s tracks, “Ghostwriter.” Naturally, the song discusses its namesake and its author’s role as an uncredited writer of many of today’s top rap verses.

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Rick Ross Mastermind Press photo 2014

Recently, in an interview with Time, Ross elaborated on the topic. The hip hop mogul states, “I finally wrote a record telling the way it feels for me to be a ghostwriter, and not only a ghostwriter, but one of the biggest in the rap game.” He goes on to put his role as a ghostwriter in the context of his one career, justifying the practice as something that made sense due to his status. “Because of my own personal success I’ve always been able to keep that in the shadows. On this record, I just felt it was so current. It was needed.”

Ross further added his take on the discrepancy between ghostwriting in pop music versus that of traditional hip hop. In his eyes, the practice is more acceptable in the former, which places its emphasis on the music as an entire entity as opposed to the latter. Specifically citing the rap of artist, DMX, Ross claims ghostwriting is less morally sound to its focus being on the lyrics–words, which in this case, aren’t authored by the stated performing artist.

To put the issue in the context of record label operations, at the end of the day, the artist who performed the lyrics will be the one making the bulk of the song’s consequent revenue. In the Rick Ross conceptualization of ghostwriting perhaps this is only fair with some artists as lyrics solely contribute a piece to the puzzle that is the song as a whole. However, imagine a rapper who’s main selling point is the craft and wit of his lyricism. If these lyrics are not truly authored by that artist, it would seem that the artist’s publishing and recording earnings should be split between the performer and the writer. At least that’s how it works in traditional songwriter scenarios. With ghostwriting, the compensation is different. It is not dependent on the revenue generated from record sales, but rather the compensation is awarded in a one time lump sum prior to the record hitting the shelves. With some artists, such as MF Grimm, who in an interview with Forbes revealed, “I think I set a rate, every bar a thousand dollars”, the payment could be severely disproportionate to the song’s eventual earnings. Additionally, aside from the the money, an artist builds their fan base on the records under their name. If an artist is only writing songs for other artists, how can their own performance career come to fruition?

All this said, I am approaching this from an outsider perspective. In no way have I ever been involved in the hip hop industry and thus, perhaps their are legitimate benefits to being a ghostwriter. Maybe this is the ultimate sign of credibility in terms of hip hop lyricism? Maybe this is the only way to break into the business? Whatever it is, the tradition of ghostwriting is certainly as prevalent as ever with the biggest artists in the world–i.e. Rick Ross–taking part in the practice.

 

Sources:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/6770409/rick-ross-ghostwriter

http://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2015/09/22/phantom-rappers-inside-the-business-of-ghostwriting/

FIND YOUR GREATNESS

How does Nike sound like? I think that question is very difficult to answer…

The sports company has been using very different genres of music for its campaigns, from electronica to classical music, as you will see in the following videos.

Nike free music shoe 

Find your greatness

Take control with Andres Iniesta and Sarasate’s music

 

I do not have any idea how does the Japanese DJ duo Hifana transformed Nike’s flexible runn+ running shoes into musical instruments. Is it actually possible? Or is it a kind of trick? Anyway the result is spectacular!

How does Nike approach to music? Is there any evidence of integration of music and sports?

Thanks to the evolution of digital music distribution and the proliferation of music streaming services, the company has adapted its strategy and created new products to fit consumer’s demand.

Nike and new music products:

The company, together with Apple has launched Nike+ app, a running application that allows the consumer to listen to any kind of music while practicing sports. The application is available for iPhone and Android and can be purchased on App store.

Additionally, the new iPod nano can be synchronized with iTunes library without connecting an external device or sensor.

Nike has also participated in the design of a video game called Kinect Training for Xbox 360, putting together individual training and music.

Artist endorsement and events:

As well as other companies Nike has partnered with some artist such as Rick Ross, The Neptunes, Rakim, Nas and KRS-One who had appeared in some TV spots.

In addition, Nike and the singer and songwriter Katy B collaborated in the organization of an exclusive event, The First ever Nike Training Club Live Festival, held in London on the 7th of July of 2012 at Old Billingsgate Market. The initiative was specially created for girls and aimed to bring together sport and music. The attendants could participate in some training sessions, get free professional massages or even get daring neon color manicure!

NIKE Training Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curiosities:

Nike was actually in trouble in 1987 as the company decided to use The Beatles song “Revolution” in a commercial, without Apple Records, The Beatles’ recording company permission.

As a result, Nike had to pay $250,000 to Capitol Records Inc., which was the owner of the North American licensing rights to the recordings, in order to use the original recording for a year.

Nonetheless, after such incident Yoko Ono gave her authorization to Nike to use John Lennon’s song “Instant Karma” in another advertisement.

Another recent incident occurred in June 2009, when Eddie Van Halen accused Nike of treading on his trademark, regarding the use of graphic stems from his red/white/black striped pattern seen on his “Frankenstein” guitar, which he has held the rights to since 2001. Eddie was asking for the impoundment and destruction of all the Nike Dunk Lows shoes, as well as all profits from its sales and damages.

Nike-Sued-By-Van-Halen-1

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think about Nike’s design? Were they using Van Halen’s design, or is it just a coincidence?

References:

http://nikeinc.com

http://nikeinc.com/news/nike-training-club-live

http://www.katybofficial.com/gb/home/

http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/editorials/id.1650/title.all-souled-out-an-analysis-of-hip-hop-endorsements

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/eddie-van-halen-sues-nike-over-guitars-signature-color-scheme-20090617

http://business.transworld.net/15967/news/eddie-van-halen-suing-nike-over-dunk-lows/

Monica Manubens