Noah Shebib has been on my mind lately.
Canadian rapper Drake's newest album Nothing Was the Same has been on heavy rotation in my car for the past two weeks. Noah Shebib a.k.a "40" is the engineer and producer behind the album that hit number one on both US and Canadian charts when it was released on September 24. Since then, Drake has been doing the media circuit and I have been catching a few interviews with the artist who has not been shy about doling out praise to Shebib who he not only refers to as a rare talent, but his partner that he relies on to churn out hits. As the audio backbone for the album, Shebib has said the collection of Drake albums he has helped create, including So Far Gone and Take Care, carry a unique sound because the two are so in sync and Shebib's skill-set allows them to create a track from start to finish without it leaving their studio. Hearing the process behind Nothing Was the Same and taking time to appreciate the role of Shebib in the creation of the album, has allowed me to listen and hear the music in a way that I didn't when I was listening for the first time. My ears now instinctively break the beats, rhythm and general tone into layers. I appreciate each component as a mix or sound that was chosen with care to create the record. I consider myself to be a big fan of music––who isn't at the end of the day? But I'll admit that it wasn't until I learned about the Shebib-Drake process and relationship that I came to appreciate the importance and effect that production and mixing has on an album.
Shebib's ear isn't the only thing that makes him interesting. He is also fiercely loyal and has been very public about his lack of desire to spread his wings and work with a plethora of other artists. He and Drake climbed their way to the top together and he sees no need to mess with a union that is working well for the pair. He has selectively produced records for other artists such as Jamie Foxx, Alicia Keys and Lil Wayne, but in one way or another, Drake has been involved. I think this is an intriguing strategy. In this day and age, there is a prevailing idea that ambition reigns and jumping at golden opportunities when they come your way is a necessary instinct, it is rare to come across someone as young and ripe as Shebib who is exercising such restraint during a time in his career when many wouldn't be able to stop themselves from expanding their portfolio with other respected artists.
If you were to Google Shebib, you would notice that the diverse search results also add to his mystique. The 30-year-old has been very open about coping with Multiple Sclerosis, a diagnosis that he received shortly after his 22nd birthday. Since then, Shebib has collaborated with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to not only share his story, but build awareness around the disease that at a moments notice can take hold of the body. He has said that in an effort to look out for his health, he is taking a much-needed break now that his latest project is complete. Shebib's advocacy for education around MS is undoubtedly commendable, but what I think makes an even bigger impact are the countless fans––many who are likely half his age––that see him fight for his dream while owning what some would accept as a major setback. Getting to the top is hard work, regardless of the cards you are dealt. It is refreshing to see those that have "made it" share their story in an honest manner, including the road blocks along the way.
Noah Shebib is someone to watch.