Drake‘s long-awaited debut, “Thank Me Later,” was recently pushed from a fall release to early 2010. But one of the album’s producers, Harlem-based Omen, says the Toronto MC is ready to release first single, “Shut It Down” featuring The-Dream, in the coming weeks.
“We’re filming a video for it soon helmed by Hype Williams. The track will be serviced just a few weeks after,” Omen tells Billboard.com.
The song came about when Omen teamed up with Drake’s longtime musical collaborator, 40, and together they came up with the production. “I was working on some drum patterns and 40 had the melody going. 40 is very skilled and has a crazy ear for obscure sounds and chords,” says Omen. “It took us the whole night to come up with the track, but we finished it and played it for Drake the next day, who already had the song’s concept.”
The idea for the track, which Omen describes as a “Prince-like, powerful song,” is about “empowering females. Drake said he had a song idea called ‘Shut It Down’ aimed at club-going females. When they go out and they get dressed up and put their makeup on and get their hair done, they have the capacity to shut the club down,” Omen recalls.
The-Dream eventually got on the track; as of now, he has a verse and appears on the last two choruses and on the bridge.
But Omen’s working relationship with Drake started years before this track came into fruition. Omen, an up-and-coming producer then, met 40 in Toronto back in 2003 while working on Canadian artist Jellystone’s album. A few years later, during another visit to Canada, Omen was introduced to a new artist 40 was working with named Drake. “He told me he needed my insight on Drake’s direction,” says Omen. “I heard Drake, and immediately thought, ‘this kid is crazy!'”
In 2007, Omen reunited with 40 in the studio, this time asking him to bring Drake. Omen played Drake a song he had created for his own release, a track titled “Overdose On Life,” and asked Drake to write to it. 30 minutes later, Drake had finished the “craziest 32 bar verse ever, and we laid it,” says Omen.
Coincidentally, a few days after that, Omen got a call from an A&R at Aftermath Records, asking Omen for tracks for Dr. Dre‘s upcoming “Detox” album. Omen told them about the very fitting “Overdose On Life,” and sent it over.
Although “Overdose To Life” didn’t make the cut for “Detox,” Dre flew Drake and 40 out to the west coast off the strength of the track, where they remained for a couple of months working on music.
“Overdose On Life,” which also features rappers Mickey Factz and Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, also served another purpose: after leaking in the early part of 2008, the track became the first taste the U.S. market got of Drake’s lyrical prowess. “No one knew this kid yet, not even Wayne was checking for him then,” says Omen, “but when people heard that record, they were like, ‘this song is hot. Who is Drake?’ I told Drake then, ‘you’re on your way to greatness.'”
Although Omen couldn’t reveal any more details on “Thank Me Later,” he did say it will be the equivalent to “‘So Far Gone’ on steroids,” which is Drake’s mixtape that propelled him to superstardom and a record deal with Universal Motown via Young Money Records earlier this year. He also says him and 40 will be doing a lot of the production on the album collectively and currently have a couple of more records in the works.
Omen’s been producing since the early 90s, when he was part of a local New York aspiring rap group. In 1999, when Rocafella artist Memphis Bleek was working on his debut album, he heard a track Omen had produced and used it for his “Coming of Age” debut. “That was my first placement,” says Omen.
In the future, Omen hopes to get into film scoring and dabble more into R&B production.