The ghostwriters of French rap: getting out of the taboo?
There’s a lot of projects I’ve worked on in French rap that I’m not credited with at all
If the taboo around ghostwriters is gradually fading and specialized structures are being put in place, the players in this environment however point to a persistent problem: credits. That is to say the distribution of royalties between all those who participated in the development of a piece.
You must first know that the authors (just like the topliners and beatmakers for that matter) will receive royalties only on the songs that come out and for which they are credited. It is therefore possible that an author is sent for a week in seminar with an artist and that no piece is retained.
In these cases, no release therefore no copyright. “Sometimes there is no return on investment and you have to be ready for that toosays Fabb. It’s a bit ungrateful as work“.
But when the songs come out, it happens that some people who participated in the creation of the song are forgotten in the credits. “There are a lot of projects I’ve worked on in French rap for which I’m not credited at all, where I haven’t taken a penny“.
“It’s still a new job so there aren’t really any rules.Karmen analysis. In terms of credits, it happens that the topliner or the ghostwriter is forgotten because it is not yet a reflex. Imagine you made a sound, but it comes out a year later. When you credit stuff, you think about who worked on it, but you think about the beatmaker more than the topliner or the author. I’ve had this kind of issue before, but never felt like it was intentional. Usually you remind the artist and they add you to the credits“.
But according to Karmen, some artists take advantage of their status to get a bigger share of the credits. “Ithere are artists, if you work with them, there will be abuse of power in the sense that they say to themselves: when you’re a little topliner, you’re not going to piss off, you’re going to be so happy to have placed on such and such. Some take advantage of it“.
“We often credit the beatmakers, but not often the ghostwritersobserves Mourad who, for his part, makes every effort to ensure that the authors he places are present in the credits. We can propose a title, the rapper likes it, he records it. Afterwards he gives it to his producer who gives it to his label who will take care of making the deposits on Spotify, Deezer, etc… Often the information on who did what does not arrive and therefore the credits do not appear directly , we have to remind them and it changes. But sometimes it’s really quite a step up for the news to arrive. There are still many administrative shortcomings“.
Towards more transparency?
Beyond the problem of the recognition of ghostwriters in French-speaking rap, we should perhaps ask ourselves the following question: doesn’t calling on authors allow us to go even further in creation? And so can’t we assume it completely as is the case in pop or French variety?
For Karmen, the answer is clearly yes: “People are starting to understand this concept of collaboration. And then it’s always better to create together, you have several ideas, more hindsight, and that pushes the piece further. That may also be one of the reasons why French rap shines more than before! It’s also up to the artists to talk about it“. Indeed, the case of Shay who assumes it is far from representing the majority of the game. It is still very rare to hear a rapper talk about his collaborations with authors on his own songs.
Having fewer complexes around this practice would perhaps make it possible to better control the allocation of credits on certain projects. Especially since for Fabb, all artists are likely to agree to interpret the piece of another. “If I send a hit to any artist on Earth, he’ll take it, even if basically you would say to yourself “he never in life will take someone else’s text”. If I had sent Macarena to Damso, I don’t think he would have refused it. Afterwards, there are artists who remain stuck in the Stone Age and who say to themselves that it’s a shame, but I think that it becomes more and more uncomplicated in the end“.
The proof: the profession of topliner in French rap is increasingly recognized. People like Heezy Lee or Le Motif are behind the toplines of very big French rap songs, and they are identified by the public for it. Are we heading in the same direction for ghostwriters?