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Stamberg Raps! And Other Tales From A Hip-Hop Ghostwriter

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Stamberg Raps! And Other Tales From A Hip-Hop Ghostwriter

Stamberg Raps! And Other Tales From A Hip-Hop Ghostwriter

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GUY RAZ, host: If you're spitting out the rhymes like you used to and, well, you know, you've somehow just lost the flow, there is help out there, and his name is Jesse Kramer. He's a rap ghostwriter. And for a modest fee, he will write you a custom rap song - actually, a custom rap album, if you want. He runs a website out of L.A. It's called Rap Rebirth. And he says just pick a rapper, any rapper, and he can make you sound just like him or, in some cases, her. Jesse, give me a rhyme right now, right now. Let me hear your flow.

JESSE KRAMER: All right. This is about NPR. (Singing) Voice of the public, republic, you love it. Above it, nothing, discussions, talk of it. Broadcasting live from the tower to metropolis, power to the people at the foot of the acropolis, dropping this, no stopping us, all topics, we're on top of it from the polar caps to the lushes of the tropics.

RAZ: Wow. That was incredible. And that was free. How much would I have to pay for that if I actually paid for it?

KRAMER: That'd be about a hundred.

RAZ: So - and explain how your service works.

KRAMER: An artist comes to my website and then they'll tell me about themselves. They'll tell me about their formative experiences growing up, who they are, who they want to be perceived as, their favorite subject matter to rap about, artists that inspire them and slang that is used, you know, where they're from.

RAZ: So you're doing like a biographical sketch. It's almost like you're writing a mini biography of somebody. Have you written any songs that we might have heard of?

KRAMER: You know, I can't say. It's confidential. I can say maybe.

RAZ: Now, what about styles? I mean, do people sort of have, like, specific requests, they want to sound like a specific rapper?

KRAMER: Yeah. Yeah. And I found that the rapper people want to sound like the most is Drake.

RAZ: Is Drake. OK. So for people not familiar with Drake listening, this is what he sounds like.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEST I EVER HAD")

DRAKE: (Singing) And you don't even have to ask twice. You could have my heart and we could share like it the last slice. Always felt like you was so accustomed to the fast life. Have a thinking that he met you in a past life. Sweatpants...

RAZ: All right. So how do you make people sound like him?

KRAMER: Well, Drake's interesting because he has a lot of crossover appeal, you know, in sort of kind of mainstream pop, but he's also very honest in his lyrics and he presents a sort of vulnerability. So when people ask to sound like Drake, that's usually what they're asking for. They're asking for, you know, a more honest, self-aware hip - type of hip-hop.

RAZ: We wouldn't be doing our jobs as journalists, Jesse, if we did not put your services to the test. So we actually did - before we just met here in this interview, we arranged to have you write a rap for one of the greatest NPR luminaries of all time, Susan Stamberg. And you did this, and we're going to hear in a sec. And by the way, I just want you to know, she actually wants to be known as MC Horseradish. I don't know if that would appeal to a broad audience, but yeah, it may. Who knows? Anyway, let's take a listen to Susan's rap. You've written the words.

KRAMER: Yeah.

RAZ: Here's Susan "MC Horseradish" Stamberg.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SUSAN STAMBERG: (As MC Horseradish) (Singing) Back up. Began over static on the fabric of the radio, forever young tongue, you can hear it in my flow. A pro speaking through since '72, Thanksgiving queen, oh, I thought you knew. A humanist at heart and my heart at speech. Not loquacious, I'm a verbally vivacious cheek. If I could reach the time and rewind I might, but I wouldn't change a thing 'cause I love my life. And if you tried my cooking, you'd fall in love. My specialty is recipes that fly above the culinary norm making culinary storms. Perform in the kitchen making food transform. Don't mean to embellish but my relish is delish, even Coolio said it was his favorite dish. Rep NPR for the poor, rich and bourgeoisie. The GOP won't define me. Heck nah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

RAZ: By the way, you know this is how Walter Cronkite started out? Yeah. All right. That's Jesse Kramer. He runs Rap Rebirth. That's a ghostwriting service for rappers. He spoke to me from our studios at NPR West. Jesse, thanks for coming in.

KRAMER: Thank you. It's been an honor.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: And for Sunday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Remember, you can hear the best of this program on our podcast. Subscribe or listen at iTunes or at npr.org/weekendatc. We post a new episode every Sunday night. And this week, you can hear a special bonus track. It's part of the NPR investigative series the Child Cases: the story of a mother suspected of child abuse jailed for two years and then eventually cleared. That story is only on our podcast, WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. We're back on the radio next weekend. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great week and a happy 4th.

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