Drake's Thank Me Later was produced mostly by his trusted collaborator Noah "40" Shebib, but the Toronto lyricist ventured into the studio with an array of hip-hop beatsmiths for his debut, from Swizz Beatz to Kanye West.
One standout on the project was indie-rock act Francis and the Lights. Frontman Francis Farewell Starlite produced the second song on Thank Me Later, the muted "Karaoke."
After he signed on to tour with Drake, Starlite was asked by the rapper's camp if he had any music available. Starlite struggled while trying craft the right number, before ultimately deciding to give up a track he was saving for himself.
"My immediate reaction was to go into the studio with [my producer], who I work with on most of my things, and we tried to make beats," he told MTV News. "And we sent one and heard nothing; we sent another and heard nothing. And I sort of realized: It has to be deeper than that. [For] Drake and his people, it has to be good above all, before it's any genre or anything. So I had a song that I had been working on for a while that I knew was good. I knew it was something special. And I made the decision to give it to him and let it go in that way. So I tracked ['Karaoke'] in one night in the middle of [recording] my record. I sent it to them, and I heard back in, like, three minutes," he laughed.
The result was a minimalist number on which Drake deftly mixes soft crooning before building up into a straightforward rap about a relationship gone awry. "I remember when you thought I was joking/ Now I'm off singing karaoke, further than I ever been," Drake sings. "So if you gotta go, if there's any way I can help."
The song parallels material more likely to be on a Francis and the Lights project than anything in a retailer's rap bin. Starlite said Drake didn't tweak the music much, but admitted the Young Money star's vocals gave the song a vitality it initially lacked.
"He made it better, unquestionably, from what I had," the singer said. "And that's a good feeling. He made it very personal, but making some very subtle changes and doing his thing on it, obviously, with the verses. He actually made it make sense in a way that didn't make sense to me before."
What do you think of Francis and the Lights' production work for Drake? Let us know in the comments!