Noah “40” Shebib has shied away from the spotlight, but Drake’s right-hand man is speaking out in a rare interview.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Rolling Stone, the producer and engineer behind Drake’s biggest hits opened up about his battle with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, and how it nearly killed him.
“I crashed and burned on the last [Drake] tour at one point after a show,” reveals 40. “You could’ve cut me open with a razor blade, I would have no idea.”
He began to shake uncontrollably and couldn’t stop tears from running down his face. “They wheeled me out of there in a wheelchair and I was at the hospital,” he explains. “Went back this summer for the first time in 10 years. I went to go see the doctors. I went and got an MRI.”
The doctors told him that he had done permanent damage to his brain by not taking the medication that would suppress his MS. “[The doctors] were not happy. Everybody said, ‘You fucked up. You lost 10 years, bro. What are you doing? Get on the fucking drugs, right now,'” he says. “They said about a third of my brain’s dead at this juncture.”
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Producer and engineer @ovo40 is Drake’s right-hand man, and the sonic architect behind @OVOSound and a decade of pop music. Now, he’s finally fighting back against a disease that could take away everything with the help from his own strain @bllrdr. The super producer talked to us about his short time as an actor, building the OVO brand, first time meeting @champagnepapi and more. Click the link in our bio for the full story.
40, who is now 37 years old, has produced the bulk of Drake’s catalog, yet he is self-deprecating when speaking about his musical legacy. “I don’t like my music,” he says. “I don’t like any beats I’ve ever made. I don’t like any of my mixes.”
“I got lucky,” he adds. “I won the lottery. So I often tell people, ‘The music business is something like the lottery. If you win it, fucking great, but lots of people don’t win.’ That’s why I can’t sit there and be like, ‘My talent is the reason I’m here.'”
Elsewhere in the interview, he reveals how it felt to be caught in the crosshairs of Drake’s 2018 beef with Pusha-T, who made light of 40’s illness on his diss track “The Story of Adidon.” Pusha rapped, “OVO 40, hunched over like he 80–tick, tick, tick / How much time he got? That man is sick, sick, sick.” At the time, Shebib’s only response was a tweet linking to World MS Day.
“I guess all I’ll say is that was just a different thing for me,” 40 says. “Different than a bar that he gets off. No real comment. I made my comment. It was National MS Awareness day.”
Coincidentally… tomorrow is World MS Day. https://t.co/5ms9IJwV86
— Noah Shebib (@OVO40) May 30, 2018
He admits that the lyrics made him feel “like shit, for sure,” adding, “Ultimately, I like turning things into positive situations or brighter sides. And if that brings awareness to my disease on a bigger level, I was happy about that. That’s what I used it for. That ultimately is a good thing for me. I like that transaction we had from that perspective. I’m very vocal about it.”
When asked if Pusha crossed the line, 40 replies, “Of course. That was something different than a bar in a song. That’s cool, I barely know that guy.”
The Weeknd has often been credited for shaping the sound of Drake’s 2011 album, Take Care, but 40 says his involvement is exaggerated and that he only contributed to four of the 22 tracks.
“There’s, like, 22 songs on Take Care. He contributed on four of them,” he says. “There are 18 other songs on there where that guy was nowhere to be found, right? So it’s like, ‘Yeah, cool and you contribute to a few records on Take Care. Significant records, sure, but it was a few. It wasn’t a lot.’ It’s a common misconception. I made that whole album. I saw Abel maybe two days. I was in there for like a year.”
He also ranked Drake’s discography from top to bottom: So Far Gone, Take Care, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Scorpion, Nothing Was the Same, Views, and Thank Me Later. He left More Life off the list, because it was billed as a “playlist.”
After the interview was published, 40 explained that he was driving when the questioned was asked and clarified his stance. “I would never have NWTS that low,” he commented on Instagram. “Some days that’s my favourite project we did but it’s whatever lol I have different reasons for why I’m attached to different projects then everyone else and that’s understandable but that list ain’t right I don’t stand by that. And also I ain’t giving a list cause as I said I have a different perspective.”
Drake’s engineer “OVO 40” ranked his albums from best to worst
1. So Far Gone
2. Take Care
3. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
5. Nothing Was The Same
7. Thank Me Later
He called “More Life” a playlist and that it doesn’t count pic.twitter.com/m8pXhfpRyR
— Complex Ambition (@ComplexAmbition) June 9, 2020