Drake’s Producer 40 Reveals He Was Tapped For Aaliyah Album

Drake's longtime producer reveals that Aaliyah's family initially reached out to him to produce posthumous LP.

Drake was on the receiving end of scathing criticism when he announced plans to release a posthumous Aaliyah album, but it turns out that his longtime producer Noah “40″ Shebib was initially approached about crafting the album.

Drizzy began dropping hints about the project in the spring of 2012, but things got serious that summer when he released the single “Enough Said,” featuring previously unheard Aaliyah vocals. The track was met with mixed reviews, and artists including Timbaland and a ferocious DMX would openly criticize Drake for attempting to work on an Aaliyah album without their help, or the blessing of her family.

In a new interview with Vibe however, 40, who executive produced Drake’s Nothing Was the Same album, explained that Aaliyah’s family actually reached out to him to work on the LP, and that’s when Drake got onboard.

“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,” 40 explained. “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.’ ”

And that’s when things got ugly.

“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,” 40 revealed. “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,” 40 confessed. “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.”

Just before Drake dropped the single “Enough Said,” Timbaland had this to say about the potential album: “I know they trying to drop some Aaliyah records, but if he do it, it should be with me and Missy. The proper way for him to do that would be for me, him and Missy to be all on the record.”

It makes sense then, that 40 decided to back away from the project, but it doesn’t seem like Drake is giving up so easily. In December he previewed an unreleased track on his Instagram account that seemed to feature Aaliyah’s vocals once again, but he gave no further information.

Now we know that 40 is out of the picture, but eventually we’ll find out if Drake has given up completely.

A native of Grenada, a product of Brooklyn, a student of hip-hop.
@neweryork