- Drake’s producer, Noah “40” Shebib, addressed R. Kelly’s writing credit on “Certified Lover Boy.”
- He said they were “forced” to sample Kelly’s song and it’s “misleading to call him a co lyricist.”
- “To think we would stand beside that guy or write with him is just incredibly disgusting,” he said.
Noah “40” Shebib called the idea of working with R. Kelly “disgusting” after the accused abuser received a songwriting credit on Drake’s new album.
Shebib is Drake’s closest collaborator and one of several producers on “Certified Lover Boy,” which was released on Friday. The album’s eighth track, “TSU,” lists Kelly as a cowriter due to an instrumental sample in the intro.
Shebib, who is not credited as a producer on “TSU,” explained that Kelly’s 1998 single “Half on a Baby” is playing in the background of OG Ron C’s vocals.
“It has no significance no lyrics are present, R Kelly’s voice isn’t even present but if we wanted to use Ron C talking we were forced to license it,” he wrote. “Doesn’t sit well with me let me just say that.”
“I’m not here to defend Drake’s lyrics, but I thought I would clear up that there is no actual R Kelly present and it’s a bit misleading to call him a co lyricist,” he continued.
Shebib went on to say that he’s been reading “Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah,” a biography of the late R&B singer written by journalist Kathy Iandoli.
Kelly and Aaliyah got secretly married when the latter was just 15 years old. Kelly has been criminally charged with bribing a public official to create a fake ID so that he could take Aaliyah as his child bride. Their marriage certificate identified her as 18.
It’s one of several allegations that Kelly faces in his ongoing federal trial, in addition to racketeering and sex trafficking. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“The recounts of some of that stuff is horrific and disgusting,” Shebib said of Aaliyah’s biography. “Then I saw this post and just had to say something because to think we would stand beside that guy or write with him is just incredibly disgusting.”
Drake and his producers have been criticized for choosing to sample Kelly’s music, and Shebib’s explanation has sparked mixed reactions.
As music journalist Gary Suarez noted on Twitter, it seems there were several viable options to avoid giving Kelly a writing credit, such as asking OG Ron C (who is currently signed to Drake’s label OVO) to rerecord his vocals without the background music.
—Certified Grandma’s Boy (@imgarysuarez) September 5, 2021
Some critics have called Shebib’s comment “damage control” and said the duo could’ve simply cut the sample.
Other fans, however, have defended Drake and argued that artists don’t need to “justify their art for simpletons.”