By now, almost everyone is familiar with the best-selling artist; Drake. Be it his humble start starring in Degrassi, his record-setting albums, his sold out arenas, his impeccable style, his infamous flings with Rihanna, and his OVO record label.
And also his most recent album Scorpion that triggered the notorious Kiki Challenge. Drake is considered to be one of the most liked rappers, a sweetheart to many.
Since releasing his first mixtape Room for Improvement in 2006, Drake has become a world sensation breaking records around the globe.
However, what people don’t know is that the two men responsible for his success are Lebanese! Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib have been on the OVO train from the start, serving as the creative minds behind Drake’s brand and fame.
Noah and Oliver have been friends way before knowing the rapper. They met in the ninth grade and later joined a DJ collective called the Lebanon Dons.
The pair were roommates from 2008 till 2009, when El-Khatib worked for a retailer that owned male clothing stores and Shebib made out a living at an art non-profit and engineered on the side.
During that time, 40 and Oliver heard Drake’s Do What You Do single on the radio and pondered about who “the boy with the new flow was”.
Drake was then looking for a producer to help him record a sequel. That’s when Oliver linked them up by passing Noah Drake’s number and they ended up in the same room together.
Noah Shebib, better known as “40”, is Drake’s producer and co-founder of OVO(alongside Drake and Oliver El-Khatib). He was born in Canada but is of Lebanese descent.
Noah earned his nickname 40 – short for ’40 Days & 40 Nights’ – due to the absurd period of time he’d stay up to build and perfect projects.
From there on, Noah has been producing the rapper’s songs. He first began working as a recording and mixing engineer providing no professional production input at all.
His opportunity came when he executive produced Drake’s So Far Gone mixtape in 2009.
Shebib’s uniquely atmospheric, minimalist, slow-jam ambient tracks that create very cinematic, heavy low- end music has earned him the spot as Drake’s full-time producer.
Ever since So Far Gone, Shebib has been producing almost all of Drizzy’s music and has also taken on producing for other artists such as Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, and Majid Jordan among several others.
Oliver El-Khatib, on the other hand, is Drake’s co-manager and co-founder of OVO (alongside Drake and 40).
Oliver was also born in Canada but is of Lebanese descent. El-Khatib is credited to be the genius behind Drake’s global branding existence.
He says that he doesn’t physically play instruments or produce records, however, that doesn’t depreciate the charm he brings to this brand through presenting and executing his ideas.
Oliver creates the balance in OVO. He is the one that pilots the team, makes sure that everything is in order and that it functions as it should.
As a manager, he’s the one that sees the bigger picture and ties it all together, constructing mood boards and keeping a consistent brand vibe for the people.
Moreover, Oliver is also in charge of the OVO clothing line and monitors its growth.
Earlier on, before handling the clothing line, he used to be known for his visibility on OVO’s blog spot, where he would post impeccably curated and gathered fashion photos, their latest work, and things he and the team regarded as important.
Years into his career, El-Khatib has discovered many note-worthy talents such as TheWeeknd and PartyNextDoor.
Oliver and Noah work low-key, trying to stay out of the limelight. Within OVO, Drake is their spokesperson, “the boy to rally around”.
On the internet, you cannot find much information about them both, and rarely any interviews, but their incredible work speaks for itself – on international levels.
This Lebanese duo is behind the rapper’s most significant deals and impressive record.
The expansion of OVO, the OVO Fest and the uncountable collaborations with high-end brands, such as the Jordans x OVO or the Canada Goose x OVO and not long ago, they’ve opened a flagship store in Toronto – an extension to its e-shop, a ‘tangible spot’ where “kids line up outside to cop new hats or just catch a glimpse of OVO crew members through the glass storefront ”.
The manager and the producer’s work has sent Drake to top charts and prompted him tremendous recognition, most famously breaking the record for winning the most awards in one night back in 2017.
The trio, Oliver, 40, and Drake, have put in their efforts, sweat, tears, money, and equity into building this lifestyle, this brand.
They’ve amassed huge fame and even greater respect from the public and from here they go on to challenge themselves, will they be able to do it again? For how long?
“That’s what separates the greats, is when you’re able to step up time and time again and deliver,” 40 explains.
Drake is constantly sending shoutouts to the duo in his songs. Notably, in his song “Nonstop” released earlier this month, Drake says “I let Ollie take the owl, told him to brand it for me.” Ollie is Oliver’s nickname.