With all of the hype around Wayne, Drake and the rest of the Young Money crew, I feel that we have kind of taken our eye off the producers that made these artist what they are today. These are the guys who dedicated their time to these up-and-comers. With producers like Swizz Beatz, Justice League, Trackmasters, Kanye, and Just Blaze dominating the scenes nowadays it’s easy to ignore the producers that provided the foundation for artist, such as Drake, to build. I’m not the biggest Drake fan in the word and I’m not his biggest hater either, but I am a casual listener of his music. What makes me want to explore his music is the man behind the keys, Noah “40” Shebib. 40 is one of the masterminds behind songs such as “Successful“, “Un-thinkable“, & “Fall For Your Type“. Becoming a producer in today’s times require you to build your own sound in some manner. Pete Rock has his funk sample driven beats, Premo can lay down some scratches, Just Blaze brings the symphony feel to his tracks, and Dilla’s beats were consumed with emotion. What attracts me to 40’s productions are his use of some of the most fundamental elements in beat making, to make something that is simple sound so energetic. Let’s examine his productions a bit.
The Low-Pass Filter
I believe that 40 has taken the low pass filter feature and used it to highlight the basslines in his production and it helps Drake to “harmonize” on the beats. For those thats not in the know, a low pass filter basically cuts all of the high’s out of the beat and what’s left are considered the low’s or deep pitched sounds. A prime example is when you are at a club and the music is blazing and then you step outside to smoke or whatever but you can still hear the melody of the beat, that my friend is the effect of a low pass filter, which in this case would be the wall, insulator, etc. 40 has used this filter in songs such as “Light Up“, “The Calm“, and “Aston Martin Music“(oh yea he had his hands in that song as well). The most notable use of this feature was displayed in
Drake’s Fancy (produced with Swizz Beatz) Filter Occurs @ 2:46
Exotic Synthesized Keys
This feature is a little bit harder to describe. 40 uses these sounds often in the background of his productions to create a mood for the beat. They often sound airy and they sound more like synths than keys. Most of the time the pitch of the sound is high but then the volume of that particular sound is faded into the background. In the song “Fireworks“, 40 used faded continuous keys in the background to add that missing sound to complete the mood of the song. “Resistance” is a song that displays 40’s use of the synths as well. In this particular song he used these alien like sounds to help to build the energy in Drake’s song. I would have to say my favorite song that 40 used this particular feature in was
Drake’s Lust For Life
The song starts out with another airy sounding keyboard playing in the background. The whistling flow of the production makes it sound like the beat is in a free fall. You can really get the vibe of what this feature is about near the end of the song. These sounds that 40 uses can best be described by the visuals that are displayed in Windows Media Player when a classical song is playing.
Unique Way of Sampling
Most producers sample, let’s face that reality, and you can’t expect those who don’t sample a lot to be terrible at it all of the time. From the songs that I’ve heard where 40 chose to sample another artist, it was done in a manner that you would not typically find in your average hip hop producer. For example, in the song “I Get Lonely Too“, 40 takes T.L.C.’s “Fanmail“ that was originally highly energetic and makes a production that fits more of the R&B mold. A lot of the highs of that sample were flushed out and he chose to highlight the bass and add his own touch to it. Usually you would hear a producer take a piece and loop it and try to make the most of a looped part, but in this case 40 chose to make the most out of a whole song. One of the most recent tracks that 40 produced that used a sample is Drake’s “Dreams Money Can Buy“, that samples Jai Paul’s “BTSTU“. Here, 40 basically takes the first part of Jai Paul’s song loops it and adds his own drums over it. The manner at which the sample is used in Drake’s song is sort of patchy. What I don’t hear often in producer’s work is when a producer chooses to use a sampled voice cut as a drop or break in the beat. In this case 40 used Jai Paul’s “oh” as a drop in the beat, which was pretty sick. The song that really highlights my point here, of 40’s unique sampling style, is
Drake’s A Night Off
40 uses the Isley Brother’s “Between The Sheets” and basically drowns the shit out of the sample. The sample almost sounds chopped and screwed because of how slow the melody is, but 40 manages to provide the listener with a production that is rather soothing. You can barely hear the running key sounds from the original sample in the background of Drake’s song. Smh.
I believe that 40 has the potential to develop into an even better producer than he is already. The features and techniques he uses in his productions are not too complex but they are used in a manner that exploits the beats in a good way. He uses the additions to capture a mood and develop a vibe for the beats that he makes. I believe with these three main points you should be able to identify when 40 has had his hands in producing a beat for an artist.