"I just wanted nothing to do with it," Shebib says of "politics" and bad press surrounding posthumous project.
The public never got to hear the end results of Drake's and Noah "40" Shebib's work on a new Aaliyah album, and now we finally know why. Shebib walked from the project because of all the bad press and "politics" surrounding the release, he said in a new Vibe.com interview.
Aaliyah's family members — Jomo and Barry Hankerson of her former label home Blackground Records — approached Shebib to helm the posthumous album. "Her uncle and cousin came to me and said if she was around she'd want you to do this," he shared.
Drizzy wasn't attached initially, Shebib explained. "I’ve been obsessed with Aaliyah forever, and I know Drake has his relationship with her. But that opportunity was mine," said the producer. "Drake said, 'Can I do it with you?' and I was like, 'Of course, we’ll do it together.’”
In 2012, Drake confirmed that he was executive producing the release, leading to less-than-excited responses from Timbaland and Missy Elliott. The story snowballed, with Timbo essentially laughing off the idea of Drizzy working on Aaliyah's music.
The Timbo factor, and more, ended things for Shebib. "The world reacting to Drake’s involvement so negatively, I just wanted nothing to do with it,” he admitted. "That was a very sad experience for me. I was naïve to the politics surrounding Aaliyah’s legacy and a bit ignorant to Timbaland’s relationship and everybody else involved and how they’d feel. Tim said to me 'Don’t stop, make the album.' I think that was Tim taking the position of, 'I’m not going to stop you. If you’re not going to do it, that’s your decision.' But ultimately, I wasn’t comfortable and didn’t like the stigma."
In the end, words from Aaliyah's mother pretty much lampooned the entire attempt. "We released ['Enough Said'], but I was seven songs deep," Shebib explained. "[Aaliyah's] mother saying, 'I don't want this out' was enough for me. I walked away very quickly."
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(Photos from left: Atlantic Records, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)