FADER Explains: Drake’s Boys

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September 24th has come and gone. Nothing Was the Same has topped the charts, selling more than Take Care. And meanwhile, the block of guys that orbited Drake in NWTS promo-tees all summer has stayed orbiting Drake. These guys, the OVO crew, are Drake’s day-one friends. When Drake fired his management in 2011, though they didn’t have much experience, his guys took over. (At the time, Drake explained, “It took some time to learn the positions but I’d rather that than work with somebody that I don’t know or don’t have any connection with.”) In return for their work, they get shout-outs in songs and thanks in album liners, rides in the private jet and rooms at the Yolo Estate, sore necks from their owl chains and the chance to take shots out of Drake’s Grammy. So, because it’s not just Drake who started from the bottom and now is here—it’s “we”—here’s a man-by-man guide to Drake’s supporting crew.

Noah “40″ Shebib

When Drake breaks from Nothing Was the Same’s long-winded intro to declare “40 is on Martin Scorsese,” he’s referring of course to Noah Shebib, the small, bald and bearded guy, always in the studio or hiding behind his laptop, who has been Drake’s primary producer, engineer and other-half since his career began. Shebib is as instrumental to Drake’s sound as Drake—by his own calculation, he’s had a part in “100 percent” of the music Drake’s put out: “Everything goes through my hands,” he told FADER last year. As if that weren’t work enough, he also takes it upon himself to “to protect Drake from his niceness.” He and Drake have more than music in common: 40 was also a child actor, making appearances in Wind at My Back, Goosebumps and The Virgin Suicides. Outside of their partnership, 40′s also produced for Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, A$AP Rocky, Nas, JoJo and Usher.

Follow: @OVO40, ovo40 on Instagram

Oliver El-Khatib

El Khatib is a sometimes long-haired Lebanese-Scandinavian guy who seems to hang back in the shadows when Drake and crew are out and about. As Drake’s creative director and brand manger, he’s charged with making sure all things Drake stay Drake-y. Back in 2008, he shared favorite menswear on the OVO blog, before he was officially tasked with OVO’s clothing line, which has given us this $900, duck-down stuffed and silk-lined Canada Goose jacket and the embroidered OVO owl sweatshirt that Rihanna keeps in her suitcase, according to “5AM in Toronto.” Oliver’s name was dropped on Drake’s “Stay Scheming” verse, and he earned a production credit for “The Resistance” off Thank Me Later. Drake calls him the “ear of all ears,” and credits Oliver with identifying The Weeknd’s “it” factor. Oliver takes taste-making seriously—”It’s our responsibility if there’s talent in the city to shine a light on it,” he told Complex in 2011.

Follow: Oliver keeps his Twitter and Instagram private. For stuff he’s listened to and behind the scenes photo dumps from over the years, check out the OVO blog archives.

Ryan Silverstein

Ryan “The Cute One” Silverstien is not just OVO family, but literal family. He’s Drake’s cousin, the son of Hal (not Steve, the uncle who let Drake borrow the keys to his Lexus). Sometime’s he’s tasked with calling in the room service orders, but most often it seems like his job is to just look good next to Drake, on nights out or in the “HYFR” and “5AM in Toronto” videos. When he’s not busy with Drake, he spends a lot of time (and even more hashtags) repping for Topszn, a “regime” of dubious purpose that he runs with his partner in crime, OB. To the disappointment of many Ryan enthusiasts out there (like the people running and following this fan blog), he is dating Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell.

Follow: @OVORyan, OVORyan on Instagram

OB O’Brien

The tall and goofy red-bearded guy always hanging around is OB, a highly visible crew member who’s also a producer (though not for Drake, yet). Toronto producer Boi-1da says Drake, OB and Ryan are “straight comedy” when they get together, and we would believe it: he’s the life of the party at Drake’s music video bar mitzvah, and the guy cracking all the jokes in the “Started From The Bottom” video. We’re also fans of “Where’s @ovoryan,” a game OB created, where Ryan hides amongst the various baubles in Drake’s backyard, Where’s Waldo-style. It wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that these two clock more hours at Drake’s house than Drake does.

Follow: @ItsOB, OBOBrien on Instagram

Niko (“Neeks”)

It seems that Niko’s primary Drake duty to be a good friend. Niko recommended a good barber to Drake when he was still just Jimmy on Degrassi. and the two have been BFFs ever since. In his lengthy Thank Me Later thank you’s, Drake calls Niko his “closest confidant.” He continued, “our friendship is what keeps me alive and focused, I always thought I was an only child buy my mother lied!! Haaa.” Aww. And when he’s not with Drake? He’s the father to a very cute daughter and apparently a decent fly fisherman.

Follow: @OVONiko, OVONiko on Instagram

Chubbs

Chubbs is Drake’s muscle. As he put it to Complex in 2011: “Everybody wants to poke and jab at Drake because they don’t feel like he will throw back. But nobody around here is going to let something happen to him at any time, especially me. I’m not ever going to let nothing happen to him. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen to me first.” Maybe that’s why he’s the only OVO member to stay by Drake’s side during the Miami Vice style shoot-out at the end of the “Hold On We’re Going Home” video. He’s also Drake’s regular basketball buddy.

Follow: @ovorepsupchubbs, Chubbsview on Instagram

Future the Prince

Future the Prince is Drake’s official DJ. His given name is actually Prince, and they call him Future because he was booking gigs in Toronto clubs before he had the ID to get in. He’s been warming up crowds for Drake since the beginning. On his site,Prince writes, “Our relationship goes beyond just the music and the shows, I consider him my brother.” That’s believable—Prince had the honor of meeting Drake’s beloved Bubi. Also, this guy takes the best vacation pictures. Seriously. It’s only a matter of time before National Geographic gets at him.

Follow: @FutureThePrince, FutureThePrince on Instagram, FutureThePrinceMusic on Soundcloud

The rest

♥ According to “Miss Me,” CJ, Drake’s road manager, keeps the credit cards and lots of ones organized.
Hush has got the gun.
Boi-1da produced “Best I Ever Had,” Drake’s first big hit, and has been a regular on Drake’s production roster since.
Mike Zombie has been a regular on Drake’s production team.
Majid Jordan and PARTYNEXTDOOR are the first artists signed to OVO Sound, Drake, 40 and El-Khatib’s Toronto-based Warner Bros. imprint.
♥ OVO trainer Jonny Roxx helped Drake literally his weight up.
Jmac the barber keeps Drake’s (occasionally meme-ed) hairline right.

POSTED October 3, 2013 6:30PM IN MUSIC NEWS TAGS: , , ,