Saturday, June 13, 2020
The Sound Behind Drake
Rolling Stone – "Noah ’40’ Shebib Is Racing to Fix the Damage"
"40 loves being near the water, and much of his music sounds like it was recorded from the bottom of the ocean. If he has a calling card, it’s his muted sonics and rippling bass, occasionally punctuated by vocals that sound like someone breaking to the surface for air. He introduced the world to this particular vision on February 13, 2009, when he, Drake, and Oliver El-Khatib, another childhood friend and Drake’s manager, released a 18-song mixtape called So Far Gone. Uploaded to now-defunct blogs like NahRight, it quickly ate the internet alive, and remains one of the most impactful statement pieces in hip-hop history. On songs like “Successful” and “Lust For Life,” critics struggled to contextualize 40’s mixture of murky drums, reappropriated indie rock beats, and cleanly mixed rapping and singing paired with heartbreakingly sharp vocal samples. It didn’t sound like much else.
“What they’re talking about is a plug-in that I use called lo-fi, low-fidelity,” 40 explains of the engineering style he used on So Far Gone. “It’s reducing the sample rate, therefore the quality of the recording. Equivalent to rolling off the top end or making it muddier or sound like you’re listening to the speakers of a club from behind the wall. [I wanted] a sound around Drake so that his vocal could cut, so you could understand every fucking word perfectly, because I thought his words were so important and this was a space now that he could exist completely in the front, and everything else would be in the back supporting it.”"