Posted on Jun 28th, 2010 in Behind The Scenes by A-Trak
For those of you who checked out Drake’s album you may have noticed I’m scratching on song #5, “Show Me A Good Time”. Here’s the story of how that came about.
You could think that there was some sort of Canadian connection, or even a Kanye connection for that matter. But there wasn’t. When So Far Gone came out last year and Drizzy’s buzz went through the roof of the stratosphere of the ceiling of the galaxy, I remember thinking “wow, this is interesting, this is the first time there’s a Canadian rapper that I know absolutely nothing about.” Canada, while being a huge country on the atlas, has a very small music biz. Having been active in it for over a decade, I can tell you that usually everyone knows everyone. But the truth is, I left Montreal 4 years ago and Drake is pretty young, so in my view he just came out of nowhere.
I really loved that mixtape, and I liked the full package: the artwork, the October’s Very Own blog, etc. When I looked into O.V.O. and saw that there was a dude called Oliver the Parisian Gangster running it, I reached out. Hey, maybe he’d even speak French, who knows? So last fall this dude Oliver and I started building and quickly became homies. Turns out he’s a little older than Drake, my age in fact, so he grew up listening to the rap records that my brother and I used to put out in the late 90’s on Audio Research. Interesting… No French though.
I didn’t actually meet those dudes before a while. Seasons changed, birds migrated, and all that funky stuff. In February I went out to LA for Grammy weekend and I DJ’ed Drake’s official afterparty. Then one day in May I get a call from Oliver. “Are you in New York?” Yes. “We need scratches on the album. We’re finishing everything tonight, mastering in the morning. Can you go meet 40 at the studio?” Yes. “Alright I’ll hit you back with the studio info.” Roger that.
I had never spoken to 40 but of course was familiar with his beats. He greeted me with “Trizzy! My childhood hero!” and I came to find out that he used to be into turntablism and had entered a few DMC’s in Toronto in his younger days. This dude had literally not slept in 3 days and was single-handedly holding down the completion of the album. He had 4 mixes to finish that night on top of recording my scratches. He played me the whole album and started tuning a few vocals on unfinished songs. It was getting kinda late, so we tackled “Show Me A Good Time”. Drake was already doing a sort of vocal scratch on the words “aw yeah” in his hook, so they figured I could grab the classic “aw yeah” scratch sample and cut it up. But I said that’s Run-DMC! Adding a sample to clear the day before mastering is bad news. I told him “why don’t we just grab Drake’s voice, put a little crunchy effect on it and I’ll just scratch that?”. And that’s what we did. I started recording the first hook, it was about 1am. Pretty quickly, 40 was getting calls asking for the mixed Alicia Keys vocals on “Fireworks” to send her for approval. Meanwhile I wanted to make every hook different so I knew it would take me a good hour to nail my whole song. Suddenly we didn’t have that hour. I could tell 40 was getting nervous, he had full songs to mix during the night. So I said the only way this will work is if I set myself up in another room and record myself while he worked on those other mixes. I couldn’t just go record at my house because those files couldn’t leave their drives, this album was on high security. This was a super tiny studio though and there wasn’t even another room or any type or recording rig. So I decided to rush home to grab my Duet (a recording interface — this should be an ad for Apogee), come back and set up on a table somewhere. This studio was in midtown, I live in Brooklyn. By the time I got back it was past 3am. I literally set up a turntable and mixer on the kitchen counter, plugged everything up and started recording. Those scratches were done between the hours of 4 and 5 in the morning. I went to play them to 40 but he had fallen asleep with the “Fireworks” hook on loop. I told him “just load up the session for the song and I’ll add my files, you’ll hear them when you wake up.” I went home and crashed.
That wasn’t the end of the story though. There was an open verse in that song. There was either going to be a last-minute guest, or Drake would have to record a new verse. But he was on tour so recording a verse was a complicated endeavor. They ended up postponing mastering by a few days and one of the main reasons was to figure out the fate of this song. It almost didn’t make the album, for real. Two days later Drake recorded his 2nd verse and 40 was able to mix the song. By the end of the week they mastered everything and I went to listen to the finished product. Sounded smooth like an ice-cold Molson Export.
The next time I heard the song was when the album leaked. Within days the album came out and I DJ’ed the 2 New York parties for his album release, the first one being an Alife Courtyard event and the second, some bougie spot with Birdman in attendance. And with that, the cypher was complete.