To this day, Chicago-bred rapper and entrepreneur Lupe Fiasco has occasional moments of clarity and insight. In the ongoing public tussle between Meek Mill and Drake, which started when the former accused the latter of not writing his own raps, Fiasco definitively took no sides and expounded on ghostwriting in hip-hop history with a two-part Instagram letter. Titled "The Haunting," the posts function as an essay on the centrality and morality of ghostwriting, and revolves around the thesis that ghostwriting isn’t a big deal unless an artist portrays authenticity to art as a central part of their identity. The whole letter, which is linked to at the bottom, is worth a read, but here are a few key quotes that illuminate Lupe’s thoughts:
"Ghostwriting, or borrowing lines, or taking suggestions from the room has always been in rap and will always be in rap. It is nothing to go crazy over or be offended about unless you are someone who postures him or herself on the importance of authenticity and tries to portray that quality to your fans or the public at large. Then we might have a problem. Some of the most pivotal moments in rap have been ghostwritten verses."
"If rap is a side hustle for you or just a come up then by all means may the force be with you. But I know a lot of MC’s where rap is the first love and the first thing they think about when they wake up and the last thing they think about when they go to sleep. Rappers who pursue the art form with this level of intention may not become rich and famous off selling their raps to a wide audience but that has never been an accepted metric to begin with in terms of quality or level of skill."
"Modern Radio and the commercial realm of music has injured rap. It set up ambiguous rules and systems for success that don’t take into consideration the quality and skill of the rappers craft. It redefined rap as just being a beat driven hook with some words in between and an entire generation has surrendered to chasing the format instead of chasing the art form. While mastering any format should be the pursuit of any self-respecting rapper including the commercial format it must be kept clear that it is just one of many formats and that you should strive to master all of them."
"Meek Mill struck a nerve accusing Drake of having a ghostwriter and the entire rap world reacted on all sides of the fence because rap is alive. It’s active and it feels. Its rules and traditions are vibrant and responsive. I enjoy both these brothers music and find inspiration and appreciation from both of them."
"At the end of the day, for better or worse, rap is alive even if some of its greatest moments are written by ghosts."
Drake’s thoughts on the matter were revealed when battle rapper Hitman Holla posted an Instagram screenshot of a convo where Drizzy said "I signed up for greatness. This comes with it."