If Drake is hip-hop's Batman, Noah "40" Shebib is Alfred. He may seem like an unassuming member of the OVO camp, but in actuality, he's one of the creative geniuses that helps keep the collective afloat and provides comfort for Drake after nights of heated battles. So, it only made sense that Pusha-T would try to cut off the head of the snake by sending a bar 40's way during his scuffle with Drizzy. But for 40, this line seemed more than a paint stroke in the art of war.
On "The Story of Adidon," Push raps: "OVO 40, hunched over like he 80—tick, tick, tick/How much time he got? That man is sick, sick, sick." This was an allusion to 40's publicized battle with Multiple Sclerosis.
"I guess all I’ll say is that was just a different thing for me," 40 said during an interview with Rolling Stone. "Different than a bar that he gets off. No real comment. I made my comment. It was National MS Awareness day."
"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," he said when explaining how he flipped the line into a tool to raise awareness about the illness. "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 a line was crossed, 40 replies, “Of course. That was something different than a bar in a song. That’s cool, I barely know that guy."
40 was diagnosed with MS at 22 years old. The autoimmune illness attacks patients' nerves, stopping information from reaching the brain. 40 explains how living the rapper lifestyle with the biggest artist in the world has impacted his already-deteriorating health.
"I crashed and burned on the last [Drake] tour at one point after a show," he said. "You could’ve cut me open with a razor blade, I would have no idea. ... They wheeled me out of there in a wheelchair and I was at the hospital. 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] were not happy. Everybody said, ‘You fucked up. You lost 10 years, bro. What are you doing? Get on the fucking drugs, right now. ... They said about a third of my brain’s dead at this juncture."
Despite this, 40 has been able to put together and craft classic projects for Drake. As a result, he passionately defended their creative process and denounced people that give other people credit for their success.
"There’s, like, 22 songs on Take Care. He contributed on four of them," 40 said when asked about The Weeknd's role in creating Take Care. "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 then went to bat for the OVO honcho. Drake is often criticized for ignoring the artistry and stuffing his albums/tapes with tracks to finesse streams. But 40 tells Rolling Stone that they have already accomplished too much to care that much about streaming numbers.
"It’s so offensive. Absolutely not. No one gives a shit about streaming numbers," 40 continued.
40 has been connected to Drake since nearly the inception of the rapper's career. They met on the set of Drake’s music video for 2007’s "Replacement Girl" after 40 became mesmerized by his music. He gave Drake a beat tape, but Drizzy never called him to purchase the instrumentals. As expected, 40 was upset but Oliver El-Khatib took it upon himself to put 40 in a position to make a play.
"[He] was like, ‘Stop being a fucking bitch," 40 recalled. Oliver then found Drake's number and told the producer to call him. Oliver's relentlessness forced the needed partnership between Drake and 40.
"I don’t judge a book by its cover — that’s where Oliver comes in," 40 said. "Oliver will turn around and be like, ‘I don’t give a fuck about the book. I give a fuck about the cover."
Since then, the two have been inseparable. For his loyalty, Drake makes sure 40 is more than compensated. 40 says that "every" piece of jewelry he owns was a gift from Drizzy.
"Every piece of jewelry I own, he bought me. Every chain, everything has come from The Boy," 40 said before mentioning that Drake bought him a Rolls Royce for his birthday. Although he knows that everyone would "love" to have a friend like Drake, he understands that their connection is more divine than anything else.
"I got lucky," 40 said. "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.'"
40 also ranked Drake's discography before the release of Dark Lane Demo Tapes. He gave So Far Gone the top spot followed by Take Care, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Scorpion, Nothing Was The Same, Views, and then Thank Me Later. He neglects to rank More Life, reminding readers that it's technically a "playlist."
In response to fans talking about his Drake album rankings, he says he doesn't stand by his list. He won't be giving a definitive ranking because he has a "different perspective."