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!