As typical with any high-profile album release, there’s always going to be a lot of dissection surrounding the project and fans are going to deliver their thoughts — good or bad. In the case of Drake’s Certified Lover Boy, there was a healthy chunk of people who found it deplorable R. Kelly received a co-lyricist credit on the song “TSU.”
Kelly is currently on trial in New York City for federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges dating back decades. He’s also facing multiple sex charges in his hometown of Chicago.
But according to Drake’s longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib, it’s not as sinister as it sounds. On Saturday (September 4), Shebib hopped into the comment section of an Instagram post from The Independent and explained why they had no choice but to list Kelly in the credits.
“On a song called tsu at the beginning is a sample of OG Ron c talking,” he wrote. “Behind that faintly which you can’t even hear is an r Kelly song playing in the background. It has no significance no lyrics are present, R. Kelly’s voice isn’t even present but if we wanted to use Ron c talking we were forced to license it. Doesn’t sit well with me let me just say that.
“And I’m not here to defend Drake’s lyrics, but I thought I would clear up that there is no actual R Kelly present and it’s a bit misleading to call him a co-lyricist.”
Certified Lover Boy arrived on Friday (September 3) boasting 25 tracks and features from JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Future, Kid Cudi and Lil Baby, among others. WhoSampled initially speculated (and Rolling Stone later confirmed) R. Kelly was given the credit on “TSU” because it contains a sample of the embattled R&B singer’s 1998 hit “Half On A Baby.”
Whatever the reason, R. Kelly critics didn’t find the explanation acceptable and dragged Drake from here to Toronto. As journalist Ernest Owens pointed out, “R. Kelly, while currently on trial for sexual abuse of countless Black women and girls, is going to be making money off the most anticipated album of the year thanks to Drake giving him a songwriting credit on #CertifiedLoverBoy. And that’s why both #CLB and #DONDA are trash.”
Owens added, “So for the contrarian who is trying to purposely dumb and go ‘but R. Kelly doesn’t own the music’ – that’s not true. He currently doesn’t have a seller and the point I’m making is by sampling that song, Drake is letting R. Kelly stay relevant when he doesn’t need to.”
But Shebib appeared to agree with people like Owens, despite letting the sample fly. He wrapped up his comments by noting, “to think we would stand beside that guy or write with him is just incredibly disgusting.”
Drake’s R. Kelly sample on “TSU” is also strange considering his admiration for the late Aaliyah, who R. Kelly married in an illegal underage wedding in 1994 (Kelly was 27 at the time while Aaliyah was a mere 15).
The Toronto rap star also has a portrait of Aaliyah tattooed on his back and has sampled her numerous times.