As Told To
As Told To
Sep 13, 2022
Episode 24: Neil Martinez-Belkin
Play • 1 hr 6 min

“When you can’t make sense of what you’re seeing, don’t stare harder. When you’re confused by what you’re hearing, don’t listen harder. Stand back, give yourself some space, and let things come into focus.”

That’s a line from rapper/songwriter/force-of-nature Rick Ross’s empowerment manifesto The Perfect Day to Boss Up, as filtered through the pen of his collaborator Neil Martinez-Belkin, who joins us on the podcast for our first episode of Season Two. 

Neil, the former music editor at XXL Magazine who has written extensively about contemporary hip-hop and rap music, burst onto the ghostwriting scene with the extraordinarily candid and unapologetically gritty Gucci Mane memoir The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. That book was followed by Neil’s first collaboration with Rick Ross, the straight-up memoir Hurricanes. All three books were New York Times best-sellers, helping to establish our guest as a fresh new “voice” on the ghostwriting scene—and, perhaps, launching him on a career he never imagined for himself.

“I really had no experience writing a book, or writing in the voice of somebody else,” Neil reflects on chasing his first collaborative project, with Gucci Mane. “But what I did have was years and years and years of being a real fan and listening to Gucci Mane interviews, and listening to the music, so I did have a sense of how he talked. Eventually I figured out.”

Join us as Neil reflects on what it was like to work with Gucci Mane while the rapper was in prison, what it took to win Rick Ross’s trust, and what lies ahead. 

Follow Neil on Instagram and Twitter.

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