Jake One Talks Producing Drake’s “Furthest Thing” (Interview)

Jake One Talks Producing Drake’s “Furthest Thing” (Interview)



Jake One recently sat down with NPR for an interview where he talks about the process he went through on making the beat for “Furthest Thing” Read the excerpt below.

What you hear on “Furthest Thing” sounds like a sample from an old record. And originally it was, ripped from a live gospel album from 1990. “There was just something about the dynamic of that band, in that church,” says Jake, at home in Seattle front of his ASR-10 sampler and laptop, Crocs on his feet, daughter upstairs watching Dora. He won’t name the record and claims it’s “not on the Internet, and I don’t think you can Shazam it.”

You can’t. Jake keeps the secret partly that’s because he’s old school enough to care about concealing his sample sources, to prevent other producers from copying him; partly because he isn’t happy with the owners of the rights to the music and doesn’t want to give them publicity. More on that in a second. Also, he says, it just adds intrigue.

When I ask for a flat surface to take notes on, he hands me a gospel record with a $1 price tag on it — maybe another song in waiting. But the beat he sent to Drake (whom he met through Twitter, then email, then text, then in person) didn’t germinate in his collection. The sample came from Gene Brown in North Carolina, an independent record collector who combs stores for choice material.

“It’s not a secret,” Brown says on the phone. “People know me. But there aren’t that many people who do what I do. I was a hip-hop artist and DJ, and I can still do that. But record collecting and selling, that’s my thing. It’s an exclusive type thing. Some people do want the physical record, for collection purposes. Some people are just fine with buying .wav files.”

So, Jake bought Brown’s .wav file for an undisclosed three figure amount, chopped it up, programmed drums and added other sounds, and arranged it into a beat. He sent it to Drake, and after years of Drake liking and being ready to use various Jake beats at various times — this time Drake texted him back definitively:

“This is the one.”

The only problem was clearing the sample. The owners of the rights to the song didn’t want to let Drake use it without paying “ridiculous fees,” according to Jake. Not the musicians, but the owners of the rights.

There are two kinds of rights tied to each piece of recorded music: master and publishing. Receiving permission from the owner of a song’s master rights would allow a musician to use a piece of the original recording; essentially, to take a sample of it and put it to work in a different way. Publishing rights control the song in idea form — if you want to record and sell a cover version, you need a publishing license. Based on cost or whatever criteria, Drake’s team decided mastering rights weren’t necessary to purchase, but publishing rights were. Which meant an interpolation of the sample needed to be produced. The music would need to be replayed by studio musicians. So Drake sent the track back to Jake, the producer, like you would a suit to a tailor.

Again, Jake outsourced, calling up G Koop, in Oakland, his old piano teacher, who specializes in replays of songs for just this purpose. You send him a song, he can record a version of it in his studio you won’t be able to differentiate from the original. And he works fast. He had the Jake/Drake track finished the next morning. Jake paid him a flat rate up front, and Drake’s record label is on the hook for more — totaling an undisclosed four figure amount.

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