Last month Drake posted a preview of a new song featuring vocals that sound an awful lot like they might be Aaliyah’s to his Instagram, reviving year-and-a-half old rumors that he and Noah ’40′ Shebib may be back to work on a posthumous Aaliyah album that summoned a storm of opinions in 2012 before quietly falling out of the news. But it’s not so, 40 confirms; although he was asked by the family to produce the album, he’s long since backed off.
The producer makes sense of the rumors in a new interview with Vibe, explaining that he was seven songs into the project before the backlash — and, ultimately, a no-go from Aaliyah’s mother — led him to throw up his hands. He says:
Aaliyah’s label Blackground—the Hankersons, her uncle and cousin—came to me and said if she was around she’d want you to do this [posthumous] project. I’ve been obsessed with Aaliyah forever, and I know Drake has his relationship with her. But that opportunity was mine. Drake said, “Can I do it with you?” and I was like, “Of course, we’ll do it together.” The world reacting to Drake’s involvement so negatively, I just wanted nothing to do with it. 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. We released [“Enough Said”], but I was seven songs deep. [Aaliyah’s] mother saying “I don’t want this out” was enough for me. I walked away very quickly.
For more on 40′s love of Cam’ron and The Heatmakerz, distaste for “Wu-Tang Forever” and his work with Sade, read the rest of the interview at Vibe. And for more on the one producer Drake can’t do without, check out 40′s interview in FADER #76.