A producer who worked with Drake on the hip-hop star's newest album, Certified Lover Boy, has responded to the backlash over R. Kelly — who is currently facing federal sex crime charges — being listed as a writer on one of the album's songs.
Noah “40” Shebib, a longtime Drake collaborator and one of several producers credited on Certified Lover Boy, said in an Instagram comment Sunday that they were legally required to credit Kelly and license one of his songs because it was playing in the background of an audio clip used in the song "TSU."
"I saw this post and just had to say something because to think we would stand beside that guy or write with him is just incredibly disgusting," Shebib wrote.
"TSU" begins with a clip of DJ and producer OG Ron C talking, but Shebib explained 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," he said.
A writing credit on a song entitles a person to a percentage of its royalties, and failing to properly credit someone can mean a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
In the official credits of "TSU," R. Kelly is listed as a writer along with Drake and six other people. Among them is Justin Timberlake, whose music is also sampled in "TSU."
In spite of that, Shebib said he found it misleading to describe Kelly as a "co-lyricist."
"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," he said.
"Doesn’t sit well with me let me just say that," Shebib wrote about the decision the credit Kelly, describing the accounts of the singer's actions "horrific and disgusting."
Drake is only the latest artist whose collaboration and crediting choices have recently come under fire.
Kanye West has been widely criticized for his decision to include Marilyn Manson and DaBaby on his latest album, Donda. (Manson has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and physical abuse, while DaBaby has made a series of anti-gay remarks and spread misinformation about HIV.)
And earlier this week, pop superstar Olivia Rodrigo added retroactive cowriting credits to Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams of Paramore for their influence on two of her songs.