Back in 2010 I had the pleasure of interviewing Noah “40” Shebib for Vibe magazine in the same issue where I spoke with Dr. Dre. In the interview (which I posted in full here) Noah said then that he didn’t want to give out the secret to his production:
“There is a secret but I can’t tell you. Nobody’s figured it out. I don’t know why because it’s so simple. You know who else does it? There’s only one other person I’ve seen do it with my own eyes. I had their sessions and I knew what their engineer was doing. And That’s Kanye’s engineer Drew. When I got the “Find Your Love” session I said “Oh shit you guys do it too?” I hope they don’t think I’m biting them.”
Well, six years and many, many more hits later, 40 opened up his studio to Native Instruments to reveal not only how he has integrated MASCHINE and KOMPLETE KONTROL into his studio’s workflow, he revealed a lot about how he and Drake crafted their sound.
“I’m notorious for this very lo-fi, underwater sound,” he says in the clip. “People usually assume that it’s a low pass filter and that I’m just rolling off all the top end. But for the most part I’m actually degrading the sample rate. So I’m removing those frequencies from the top end. They’re not even getting sampled in the first place. They don’t even exist. When you take out that pristine high end and lower the sample rate it they become a little more authentic, different, like it was sampled or taken from somewhere.”
“Instead of focusing on my music I was carving out an entire space in the frequencies so the artist occupies the top end completely, almost exclusively, and the music sits in the bottom end. In a way that nobody would do it. Anybody would say ‘Absolutely not, you cannot do that. It is against the rules. We will not release this song. It sounds horrible. Where is all the top end?’ It was just me and Drake wanting to do something unique.”
Watch the clip for more detailed jewels about 40’s workflow.