So word on these internets is that Gnozir employed stic.man of dead prez and Jay Electronica to ghostwrite portions of the Untitled LP. If you’ve been in or around the New York Rap industry for any signifigant amount of time, there’s a good chance you may have heard some variation of this rumor before. This specific revelation came about on Twitter after author and journalist dream hampton tweeted the following reply to a follower’s question about Jay-Z:
I think Jay writes what he believes. Nas’ “Nigger” album was largely written by Stic of dead prez and Jay Electronica
— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) August 13, 2012
I remember hearing something similar (it was about a certain song on a different album) during my tenure at XXL, but these kinds of rumors are pretty commonplace and are mostly taken with a heaping helping of salt. Who wants to believe that one of the greatest lyricists of all time used ghostwriters? Even on one of his lesser albums? I certainly don’t, and I’m a notorious Jay-Z defender and apologist.
Regardless of what any of us want to believe, this doesn’t look good for the Little Homie. Anybody can make up a rumor, but dream is pretty credible (yeah, I know she’s friends with Jay) and she’s mentioning a specific album and claiming to have heard as many as 6 reference tracks. Not to mention that I don’t hear any denials coming from the two guys she says did the writing either. As a matter of fact stic.man posted to Facebook a couple of hours ago and while he praised Nas as one of the most prolific lyricists ever, he did not deny that he wrote lyrics for Untitled:
As far as the rumors about myself and jay electronika ghost writing for Nas, let me say this. Nas is one of the if not the most prolific original lyricist to EVER do it. My contributions to his album was a collaboration and an honor and under his direction of what he wanted to convey and say. Haters cant discredit that man’s genuis. Nas is the Don.
Now, I’ve spent many hours on this site and others debating Jay-Z vs. Nas and arguing over Nas’ strengths and weaknesses with total strangers. I’ve spent many more hours debating those same topics in real life with actual people. So obviously this is a big deal for me. The thing is, I don’t want to win the argument like this. It’s like when your favorite sports team beats their arch rivals, but it’s the week your star player is out with an injury. Sure, it’s a win, but there’s an asterisk.
And that’s not to say that if Nas got some help on portions of Untitled that would discredit his whole catalog, because it wouldn’t. But if this is proven to be true, and it comes out that either stic, Electronica or anybody else wrote anything other than a chorus, that’s gonna be a big fat ugly asterisk next to The Little Homie’s career.
Here’s to hoping this is some kind of misunderstanding.
Sidebar: This is especially troubling because now everytime I listen to the genuinely amazing Life Is Good, this is going to be in the back of my head.
Related: Here’s a clip of Nas on Big Boy’s Neighborhood last week categorically denying that he ever used a ghostwriter.