Musicians Who Got Filthy Rich Ghostwriting Other People's Hit Songs

by Julian Sonny

When it comes to making it in the music industry, it's not about who has the most talent -- it's about who hustles harder to get noticed.

The talent comes after, just ask Drake.

Unless you started at the top as a child actor or Usher discovers you in a parking lot, you're going to have to work your ass off.

That means dedication, sacrifice and, sometimes, other people are going to take the credit. It's called ghostwriting.

Some of the biggest hit songs of the past couple decades are a result of hardworking, lesser-known acts taking a backseat to more popular artists, only making the rich richer.

These hit songs were ghost written by artists, for other artists.

Controversy swirled when Meek Mill called out Drake for using a ghostwriter named Quentin Miller for his part in "Rico."


But you'll find out that ghostwriting songs for other stars isn't anything out of the ordinary in the music industry.

Nas is a hip-hop pioneer and Queensbridge legend...

...who also wrote "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" for Will Smith.

Not many rappers were hotter than Nas in 1998, but he might've handed out one of his best verses of the year to his homie, Will!

"Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" is just one of those timeless classics that'll turn up any situation or mood. It all makes sense now.

Christina Aguilera has been in the game for decades now...

...she also made the hit "Miss Independent" for Kelly Clarkson.

Christina Aguilera has really been out here for nearly three decades now, and she's been dropping bangers for a good part of it.

She even passed a quick torch to "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, which is pretty much the only song I remember her by.

When Run DMC was at the height of their game in the 80s...


...they also penned "Paul Revere" for Beastie Boys.

Run DMC is one of those signature musical groups of the 80s, and if they weren't killing it for themselves, they were probably killing it for others.

The trio often wrote plenty of material for Beastie Boys and, in 1986, they blessed them with this gem.

Before R. Kelly became an R&B sensation...


...he wrote "You Are Not Alone" for Michael Jackson.

Say what you want about R. Kelly, but he's one of the greatest R&B masters of all time.

Not a lot of people know Kellz once wrote one of the King of Pop's most touching songs ever.

Drake does a bit of ghostwriting himself...

...he's even responsible for "Unthinkable" by Alicia Keys.

This song sounded a little too emotional even for a singer like Alicia Keys, but now it all makes sense.

Drake was the man behind the lyrical direction, and we can all picture him singing it.

Ty Dolla $ign is a lot like this generation's Nate Dogg...


...he wrote the song "Loyal" for Chris Brown.

Ty Dolla $ign is one of the most talented young musicians out there today and just seems to make everything hot.

He's written for a lot of rappers and singers, but he definitely put Chris Brown on with what's turning out to be the hook of his career.

We all remember Jermaine Dupri from his glory days...

...he wrote "Confessions Part II” & “U Got It Bad” by Usher...

...and "We Belong Together" for Mariah Carey.

Jermaine Dupri used to be one of the realest. Unfortunately, the time and taxes caught up to him, but he's still the man.

If your contribution to society includes "Confessions Part II," you're on forever.

Before Bruno Mars was making millions playing the Super Bowl...

...he was writing "Right Round" for Flo Rida...

...and "F*ck You" with CeeLo Green.

Bruno was making hits before anyone knew he was making hits. His production group, The Smeezingtons, is one of the most accomplished in the game.

But before CeeLo Green was saying "F*ck You"...

...he was making "Don't Cha" for The Pussycat Dolls.

CeeLo Green is one weird dude, but there's no denying he has the hits on deck. When you get this nice at music, you just trade tracks with your homies. Why not?

We haven't seen Roscoe Dash since he did the hook for "No Hands"...

...but he has more hits under his belt, like Miguel's part in "Lotus Flowerbomb."

Roscoe Dash is actually one of the most prolific ghostwriters in the game.

He's also worked for artists like Wale and Kanye West but can never seem to get the credit he deserves, like the time Yeezy didn't add him to his production credits.

Jessie J is a talented singer and songwriter from England...


...of course, she wrote "Party In The USA" for Miley Cyrus.

It is ironic one of the most patriotic songs to come up since "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written by a foreigner. That's the most American thing I've ever heard.

Before Jay Z was one of the richest rappers in the world...

...he wrote Dr. Dre's verse in "Still D.R.E."

This one still doesn't make sense to me, but Hov lended some bars to his fellow Forbes List member, Dr. Dre.

Otis Redding is one of the most soulful and first R&B artists of our time...


...did you know he wrote "Respect" for Aretha Franklin?

Otis Redding would later be sampled and remembered in Jay Z and Kanye West's "Otis," but his legacy stretches way further than that.

He also wrote the most go-to karaoke song of all time when he made "Respect" for Aretha.

Before Ne-Yo decided to peace the hat...

...he blessed Beyoncé with "Irreplaceable."

Ne-Yo must've been pissed when he realized he made a banger he couldn't sing. When in doubt, just swing to Beyoncé.

Before The-Dream and Christina Milian split up...

...they wrote "Baby" for Justin Bieber together.

This sh*t has over a billion views on YouTube. A BILLION.