Noah “40” Shebib Compares Jhené Aiko To Aaliyah, Talks Drake Chemistry


After years of heartbreaks, drunk dials and dedications, it seems like Drake has finally found his perfect match. Not in a romantic sense (at least we think not) but musically, the Toronto rapper might’ve pinpointed the perfect soprano to complement his lothario lyrics. And her name is Jhené Aiko.

The angelic voice on Nothing Was The Same’s “From Time,” described her Would You Like A Tour? host as her “musical soulmate” in a recent interview with Rap-Up TV. And Drake’s longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib seems to agree.

“She’s a very good writer,” 40 told VIBE back in November. “She knows how to write very organically and naturally—she doesn’t try too hard. That’s in line and coherent with what Drake does.”

The producer, who briefly embarked on a posthumous Aaliyah album before shelving it, says Aiko bears some musical similarities to the late, beloved singer.

“She has a very beautiful, very unique voice. She’s not a big powerhouse Beyoncé vocalist but she has something like Aaliyah,” 40 observes. “She has a tone that’s beautiful, recognizable and very much her.”

After hijacking Aiko’s song “July” back in 2010 and making it a Drake fan favorite (“Girls still go to Drake and tell him, ‘that’s my favorite,’” he says), 40 got to see Jhené at work when recording the aforementioned “From Time.” He remembers when she came to Drake’s house in Los Angeles and he pulled up a loop of a 10-minute piano piece by his friend Chilly Gonzales—”She was like, ‘Oh, that’s really nice’”—and programmed drums on the spot, in 45 minutes. She took the reference track home, cut the vocals and sent it back in.

Between Jhené’s collaborations with rappers like Drake, J. Cole, Big Sean, Childish Gambino and the TDE camp, along with the success of her Sailing Soul(s) EP, anticipation is scraping the ceiling for her debut album, Souled Out , which she tells VIBE is dropping in May.

“I have a song called ‘Promises’ with my daughter, Namiko Love,” she says. “That, right now, is my favorite.” —John Kennedy