40 gives some insight into his work with Drake, including the reason why they decided to scrap the posthumous Aaliyah project.
While not as visible to the public eye as his creative counterpart, 40 is just as instrumental in the making of Drake's music as the rapper himself. In a new interview with Vibe, the producer opened up about his craft, commenting on the assumption that Drake's sound was influenced by Kanye West, nearly cutting "Marvin's Room" from Take Care, and the reasons behind scrapping the posthumous Aaliyah project he was involved with.
Read some choice excerpts from the interview below.
On the assumed influence of 808s & Heartbreak on Drake's sound:
The irony is I don’t listen to music. When it comes to 808s, for me, that was an influence of “Say What’s Real.” Drake rapped on [Kanye’s “Say You Will”] and it sounded so good that I just ran with that, which developed into something that me and Drake embellished upon moving forward. But ultimately the sound of Nothing Was The Same, to me, is moving backwards, going back to some of my roots and elaborating on what we created through So Far Gone, which of course had direct implications from Kanye West and a lot of other music as well. It’s not like I was listening to 808s when I was making that. I was listening to The Smiths, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. That’s what I had on repeat. I’m not focused on what other people are doing because I’m concerned with elaborating my own musical palette and trying to discover something new.
On crafting "Pound Cake":
I did a lot more stuff that nobody will ever hear. When we got the acappella from Hov [for “Pound Cake”] I had a beat an hour later. It was like a classic Hov record, a flipped sample in the “Tuscan Leather” vein. Drake was super amped. Then we sat with it and were like, Fuck, is this part of our album? We gave it to Boi-1da and he just murdered it. Our jaw dropped.
On almost cutting "Marvin's Room" from Take Care:
I challenge Drake when it comes to decision making. He didn’t want to put “Marvin’s Room” on Take Care and I was like, “Bro, fuck you, you’ve gotta put this on there. It’s a moment.” But there’s a flip side—I made that beat in a few hours. He comes in, like, “I’m using this.” I’m like, “No, no, it’s not done yet. I just started.” He’s like, “No, it’s done. Don’t do anything else.” It stayed that way. My objective is to make him happy. If he says yes, then I’m good.
On his love of R&B/Hip-Hop crossover (and Dipset):
Yo, [Cam'ron]'s the best. Cam’s music is so R&B. That’s my influence. Fuck everybody. I love those R&B/rap crosses. Especially if they’re done gangster enough—it’s this juxtaposition that I’ve always loved. We don’t achieve that with Drake because he’s not gangster. But instead of being on a street rapper with an R&B sound, we push on good music.
On not 'getting' "Wu-Tang Forever":
I didn’t like “Wu-Tang Forever.” It sounded too different but I guess that resonated. People loved that shit. Maybe I don’t get it.
On walking away from the Aaliyah project:
Well, I was that for Aaliyah. Aaliyah’s label Blackground—the Hankersons, her uncle and cousin—came to me and said if she was around she’d want you to do this [posthumous] project. I’ve been obsessed with Aaliyah forever, and I know Drake has his relationship with her. But that opportunity was mine. Drake said, “Can I do it with you?” and I was like, “Of course, we’ll do it together.” The world reacting to Drake’s involvement so negatively, I just wanted nothing to do with it. That was a very sad experience for me. I was naïve to the politics surrounding Aaliyah’s legacy and a bit ignorant to Timbaland’s relationship and everybody else involved and how they’d feel. Tim said to me “Don’t stop, make the album.” I think that was Tim taking the position of, “I’m not going to stop you. If you’re not going to do it, that’s your decision.” But ultimately, I wasn’t comfortable and didn’t like the stigma. We released [“Enough Said”], but I was seven songs deep. [Aaliyah’s] mother saying “I don’t want this out” was enough for me. I walked away very quickly.