Drake released So Far Gone five years ago today (February 13), a mixtape that served as the rapper’s introduction to an international audience. Today, Noah “40” Shebib, Drake’s frequent producer, spoke about cuts from the project, including “Best I Ever Had.”
“I didn’t know it was going to be big,” 40 says regarding “Best I Ever Had” in an interview with XXL. “I thought it was kind of corny. I thought it stuck out on the tape and I was a little nervous whether or not it should be on there. Oliver [El-Khatib, OVO co-founder, producer and manager] was a little nervous about it. That being said, I kind of asked for it. And I was like, ‘Yo, we need a record on here that might work at radio. We have nothing on here that might work at radio. Okay, please give me one song.’ It gotta be feel-good. It got to be major chord progression and give it to me three-and-a-half minutes. Please just something. I got 10-minute minor chord progressions on here. Give me a three-and-a-half minute song that at least feels good. So he cut ‘Best I Ever Had’ in one night. One of the biggest songs in his whole career. Then I knew, because my sister is the one who hit me up and said, ‘Oh my God, that “Best I Ever Had” song is amazing.’ I was like, ‘Wait a second, I didn’t even think you would like the mixtape, and that’s the song you like?’”
40 says another song, “Say What’s Real,” also stands out to him due to the comparisons that it has garnered to Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak.
“People like to compare [So Far Gone] to 808s & Heartbreak,” 40 says. “[There’s] a real reason for it. He did the ‘What’s Real’ freestyle over [Kanye West’s] ‘Say You Will’ and that shit just connected so much for me. That shit was so impactful to hear him spilling his heart over that kind of production. With that very euphoric space in it. I was like, ‘Yo, fuck it, that shit crazy,’ and I ran with that sound. I always get super defensive when people mention 808s because I’m like, ‘Yo, love 808s, amazing project, but it was one song that had [that] influence.’ I wasn’t listening to 808s & Heartbreak when I was making So Far Gone. I was listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and The Smiths and stuff like that. But I will say that ‘Say What’s Real’ helped me find a place that I really wanted Drake to sit, sonically.”
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