If you listen to hip-hop and rap, the catchy and emotional lyrics of rap superstars Aubrey, Drake, and Graham are probably familiar to you. You may also be one of the many who are as tired of hearing “hotline bling” as you once were with the acronym “Y.O.L.O.,” two undoubtedly over-used icons in pop culture that owe their existence to Drake.
Currently, Drake is one of the biggest hip-hop moguls to date, and with good reason; his lyrical talent allows him to talk the talk. And the key his label (October’s Very Own) is the team he has brought together to help him not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. It is important to recognize the Scottie Pippen in the Chicago Bulls-esque “OVO” dynasty, and if you haven’t heard of “40,” the Grammy Award-winning producer and sound engineer, then you’re about to.
What makes Drake unique is the juxtaposition he creates between hip-hop and R&B. The production behind him allows for the formation the Canadian rap star’s signature sound that includes a dense, wet, low-end tonality just as emotional and delicate as Drake’s rapping style. If not for 40, the radio hits we all love to vibe out too may never have existed, and as a cofounder of OVO, it’s clear that 40 believed in the Drake’s vision before many people ever did (40 even got a personal thank you from Drake on his Instagram page).
40 has been a musician his whole life, playing the piano when he was just 10 years old. But what drove him to the music industry was the technology that revolved around it. What intrigued the A-list producer were the technical aspects of music (and having a knack for technology from a very young age didn’t hurt either). 40’s filmmaker father would ask him to take care of the technological aspects around the house when he was young, and now we reach today, where 40’s experience in audio engineering has put him on the level of the greatest musical minds of this era.
The chemistry between Drake and 40 has been instrumental in making their innovative sound work. The two artists have known each other since their early teens, and both were childhood stars as actors. As they matured, they stepped away from the theatrical arts and began working towards their true passions with music. 40 began working with Drake in 2005, originally as Drake’s personal mixing and mastering engineer. Drake had a longing for a distinctive sound that 40 understood and thought that could “take over” hip-hop culture. 40 became the executive producer for the mixtape “So Far Gone,” and the rest is history. From his beginnings as a sound engineer, 40 has gone on to help create some of the biggest hits of the decade, including “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” by Alicia Keys, “I’m On One” by DJ Khaled, and “One Dance” by Drake, and as Drake himself would say, “Trophies” can tell the story of 40’s success in the music industry.
By Cole Conway
Photo Credit: Native Instruments YouTube channel