Producer Noah '40' Shebib gives MTV News the inside story in an exclusive interview. By Steven Roberts
DrakePhoto: John Shearer/ Getty Images
Despite all the critical and commercial acclaim Drake's Take Care has rightly earned, the Toronto MC has remained relatively quiet when promoting the album. Relative in the sense that Thank Me Later's release was accompanied by the hoopla of in-store signings and a documentary.
That's not the only way the two projects differ. Where TML featured a number of A-list hitmakers, from Kanye West to Swizz Beatz, the biggest name in Drake's sophomore effort's production credits is Just Blaze. The album certainly doesn't suffer from that lack of notoriety, however. In fact, it sounds more focused with the lesser-known T-Minus, and Drake's right-hand man Noah "40" Shebib stealing the show. Their efforts helped to make it more Drake's album — however introspective, weird and altogether refreshing that might be.
When MTV News caught up with 40, he attributed their creative fearlessness to the autonomy Lil Wayne and Cash Money allowed them.
"We're afforded all of the creative freedom in the world," 40 explained. "They really trust us and have from day one. It's a great feeling to know that me and Drake just get to make music. We don't really have to clear it with A&Rs or anybody. We are our own A&R's. We just make it happen, and we take it, say, 'Hey, look, this is what we did. Let's put it out.' "
40 gave MTV News the inside look at the making of many Take Care songs, including those that shows us another side of Weezy:
"HYFR" (produced by T-Minus) "He trusts us enough to take chances; he'll go there with his raps. Not just getting on the song, but he'll participate [in the song's theme]. On 'HYFR,' he'll show that introspective side of himself along with Drake. That's amazing, and those are some of Wayne's illest moments, always have been for him.
"The Real Her" (produced by 40 and Drake) "Even on 'The Real Her,' a lot of people will be like, 'Nah, nah, I can't get on that sh--,' but Wayne will be like, 'F--- that. ... I'm going to get on that sh--.' ... I like it.' And that's what it is to me. You have to make music with that attitude. We love the music we make."
"Take Care" (produced by Jamie xx and 40) "We've always been a fan of Jamie as well as the xx, and we had been to their studio and sat with them prior to this when we were in London last year. We had loved that Gil-Scott [Heron] record, and the remix Jamie had done, and I guess between Oliver and Drake and myself, but specifically Oliver and Drake felt that song never got its shine. 'Man, what a great record. It never was as big as it should've or could've been.' "
"Motto" (produced by T-Minus) "That song was right at the end of the process. That's one of my favorites. T[-Minus] sent the record to Drake. I think Drake cut it in Vegas, maybe. He cut the vocals, sent it over to me, I gave it to Gadget, Gadget mixed it, sent it to mastering the next morning and got it mastered, on radio 24 hours later."
"Headlines" (produced by Boi-1da and 40) "There's a couple of things about radio. That's a catchy song. 'They know, they know, they know.' It's corny, it's catchy, it's perfect. That will run on radio all day. You balance with those evils when you make music. I understand what's going to work on radio as much, sometimes I want to make different types of music. But the thing is, you want to win. You want to have your cake and eat it too."
"Crew Love" (produced by 40, the Weeknd and Illangelo) " 'Crew Love' is just a moment for Drake as far at the content of the record and what was going on around him in life and his people and his team. That was just an important record for him to make, and Weeknd was someone he wanted to include on that."
"The Ride" (produced by Doc McKinney and the Weeknd) "Was really just a vibe. It was a vibe that the Weeknd caught, and it was just so crazy that Drake wanted to rap on it — as simply put as that."
"Underground Kings" (produced by T-Minus and 40) "Sometimes, Drake will have a song title in his head or an idea of what the record is and what he wants it to be and then he'll search for the beat, and I think he found that beat from T-Minus. It was just a matter of finding a place for the chorus. We got the mix right and the bass sort of eating up any speaker that gets in the way of it."
"Marvin's Room" (produced by 40) "The honesty is mind blowing. He says things in that record that are like, 'Whoa, really?' But that's shock value, and that's a great thing to bring to the table. The further it goes, the bigger the smile on my face. I want him to say the craziest sh-- you can imagine."
"Buried Alive" (produced 40 and Supa Dups) "I had given it to Drake at some point, because he had asked for it or wanted it. He just sent it to Kendrick [Lamar] at some point. I had no idea. A few days later, he was like, 'I got this Kendrick verse!' 'On what?' 'On the beat you did!' 'What beat?' When we listened to it, we loved it."
All week, we'll bring you highlights from our candid interview with Drake producer Noah "40" Shebib. Be sure to keep it locked here as 40 talks Take Care and his thoughts on everything from working with Lil Wayne to Drizzy's next single with Rihanna. For more on 40, check out Wednesday's "RapFix Live" at 4 p.m. ET on MTV.com!