Is Stealing Another Rapper's Lyrics Ever OK?

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Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday, Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.

This Week's Panel: Eskabel, Renzo, O.N.E., Brad Gilmore, D-Risha, K.A.B.

Not Invited: Carlos Mencia

This Week's Prompt: Recently, rapper Consequence got mad at Pusha T because he said T lifted one of the lines from one his unreleased songs and passed it off as his own. So here's the question (two, actually):

  • Has that ever happened to you, or have you ever done that?
  • Among rappers, is that a terrible offense, moderate, or something that happens regularly and is no real cause to get all pissy about it?

Eskabel: Swagger-jacking and taking another artist's lines is disrespectful and should never be done, not in that form or fashion. It's a little different when Jay-Z borrows B.I.G. 'cause it's more him paying homage.

I can't say that has been done to me, or at least I haven't heard anyone as of yet stealing my lines. I've borrowed no more than a bar from another rapper previously, and we're real cool and he definitely did not have a problem with it. Originality is your best reality.

D-Risha: Well it happened to me in a reverse way in high school. I said a line on a mixtape then a month later there was a Ludacris album with a similar line so some thought I bit it and others thought I was a genius [laughs]. It can have either effect.

I would say it is a terrible offense among MCs, because biting is unacceptable in the art form. This isn't honored nowadays with the new jacks, but to cats who put a lot of thought into their rhymes it is disrespect. I don't know if anyone remembers, but ESG and Lil Flip had a war of words that stemmed from this topic.

Allegedly, Flip had stole a rhyme book of ESG's and ESG* had heard a rhyme that he wrote on a Lil Flip mixtape that came out around the time after the theft. I would say that's a definitely case in point. To sum it up, no idea's original but jacking isn't cool at all.

* This is sort of close to what happened, but kind of backwards. ESG and Lil Flip wrote a song for another person. As these things tend to happen, Flip eventually got left off of the track. One of his lines was used anyway, and Flip accused them of stealing.

Brad Gilmore: The biggest part of being a rapper is your gift with words and what you say on the mike. I can sympathize with Cons. If one of my members of my camp took a line I would be upset. Although this has never happened to me, it's like biting another rappers rhymes, which is equivalent to a felony in the game.

Like I said, I have never had that done to me nor have I committed such crime, but I have been influenced by another rapper's lyrics before. Sometimes you hear a word in someone's rhyme and think to yourself, "that's a pretty badass word to rhyme!" So I have come up with lines with that word in mind to rhyme, I have never stolen a whole bar or anything close to that.

I do feel it happens a lot in the game, and a lot of the times people don't say anything. But if Cons feels like he needs to call out Pusha, then the more power to him. We need more rappers to do the same and take credit for their original work.

Renzo: I haven't heard anybody biting my style just yet. But when they try to, which I'm sure they will, I will see it as a compliment. I expect them to at least contact me for the remix. Nobody can be me as good as I can be me.

KAB: Rapping goes back years. It's hard to listen to artists without hearing some phrases you may have heard before. It's all about how you use it pertaining to you. I rarely listen to other artists, so if I say something somebody else says, yeah the word might be the same but the meaning is different. I don't care if somebody uses my lines because I know it won't mean the same thing I was meaning.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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