Ghostwriting for a teenage rapper – A true story of need, creativity and immediate service.

It was yesterday, Sunday, August 19th, 2018. I received a text from a young man who said he needed a track for a recording session. I got his info and promptly forwarded it to Deborah Jane, our resident rapper-writer and song lyricist. It turns out the deadline was like immediately. Projects like that can be a huge challenge. You need to get the work done very quickly, deliver it to the client, and there is literally little to no time to tinker with it. Fortunately, DJ is a musical genius. I asked her to write the story about this adventure, and it is below. If you need her expertise with your songwriting issues, just contact me and I will get it handled. Here we go:

By- Deborah Jane

For a songwriter, inspiration can strike at any moment. An assignment can too. As the resident hip-hop writer/rapper for Ghostwriters Central, I’ve always got to stay on my lyrical toes when one strikes. I was on my way to my girlfriend’s baby shower, preparing to spend a relaxing day by the pool in balmy sunshine, chatting about pre-natal care. While driving on the 405, I followed up on a potential client, totally expecting to get a confused runaround (typical of first-time clients). Instead, I encountered an 18-year-old rapper who was adamant on getting his song done for his album NOW. He said, “I’m going to the studio, can you get the song written by tonight?” I was stunned. Usually, I give myself at least a few days to swim in a song’s lyrical composition — but there would be no time to backstroke on this one. So, I said yes.


He gave me his basic criteria: Write a song about making money, getting girls, and driving nice cars. And he wanted it to sound like Lil Mosey, too. Spoken like a true teenager. Now, these are not topics I usually write or rap about — being a grown-ass woman in her 30s. Even as a rapper myself, I’m more on the Lauryn Hill tip than the  Lil’ Anybody “mumble rap” tip. But a great songwriter can get inside the head of anyone they are writing for. So here goes…. 

As guests partied at the baby shower, I asked my friend for a pen, some computer paper, and excused myself from the party. I walked to the pool by myself. I lifted my hands to heaven and started praying as I walked around the pool. I truly believe God is the author of all songs. So, I asked Him to give me the song (as materialistic as it might sound), and I opened myself to receive. As I sat out there, with pen and pad, the lyrics started to flow. Luckily, my client had given me a little insight into his hard-knock life growing up in the hood. To him, a nice car was not just a material position, but rather the symbol of status and success. A Nice Car meant Making It. Suddenly, I had  my motif. 

Drawing on his life story, I wove a relatively light chorus about making it with cash, cars and girls, with a deeper verse about his struggle to be the Man of the House — when he  was only a teenager. This song was giving me “Juicy” vibes (Biggie, y’all). It really was all a dream.… I played with different rap styles and patterns, switching from staccato rap, to today’s more popular “sing-songy” rap (thanks, Drake). Meanwhile as I wrote, texts kept coming from my client: Is the song done yet?  Is the song done yet?  Is the song done yet?  Now, I knew how much recording studios cost, so I imagined him waiting anxiously by the mic. My gracious friend, even allowed me to stay at her house even though the baby shower was over. Pressure mounting, I buckled down, juggling lyrics, paperwork, and recording a version of myself rapping it in the bathroom. Finally, as the last guests filed out, I emailed him the song. 

My client had to run the song by his management. So I have no idea how the recording session went. But the next morning, I was pleased to receive the text from my client reading, “Damn, that shit was fire!”   Hey, spoken like a true teenager.


About Michael McKown

Avatar photoJournalist, specialty magazine editor/publisher for 22 years, entrepreneur, co-founder of America's largest working dog organization, producer/director, and co-founder of Ghostwriters Central in 2002.