How Drake’s Creative Partner Learned to Take Care of His MS

How Drake’s Creative Partner Learned to Take Care of His MS

Toronto’s Noah Shebib may not be a household name, but nearly everyone is familiar with his music. Better known as “40,” Shebib is the chief architect of Drake’s signature sound, and he has produced some of the biggest hits of the past decade as the rapper’s right-hand man.  

Shebib has also been living with Multiple Sclerosis since he was 22. His condition is one of the few things that can draw him into the spotlight. After he received his diagnosis, Shebib spent the next 10 years largely ignoring his MS, neglecting to take his medication as he toured the world with Drake.

Now 37, Shebib has become far more aware of his limitations. After collapsing on tour, he learned that he has already sustained severe brain damage, and there are other indications that his body is starting to deteriorate. He still has his cognitive and motor functions, but that could change at any time, and there will be no going back once he reaches that point.

“That’s my fear. When something goes numb, I don’t know if it’s coming back,” he said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “My face went numb a couple of months ago. [It] was numb for a month. I don’t know if anything’s ever going to come back.”

That’s why Shebib is now using his platform to raise awareness about MS, though his role as an ambassador has not always been voluntary. During a 2018 feud with Drake, rapper Pusha T released a song that made fun of Shebib for his condition. In doing so, Shebib and other observers felt that Pusha T had crossed a line by making fun of people with disabilities. However, Shebib managed to turn the insult to his advantage and responded only with a link to World MS Day. 

“I like turning things into positive situations,” he said. “If that brings awareness to my disease on a bigger level, I was happy about that. I like that transaction we had from that perspective.”

Addressing the misinformation (and the stigma) has also allowed Shebib to reflect on his own experience with the disease. He initially avoided medication because the injections had painful side effects that disrupted a hectic production schedule. He readily acknowledges that he still has trouble asking for help when feeling ill.   

“I make a lot of sacrifices for my MS, but those are my issues, not anyone else’s,” Shebib said. “I don’t burden anybody with those.”

“I’ve had talks like, ‘My back’s really bad today. I’m so sorry. Can you go get me that screwdriver? It’s hard for me to do that. I am so self-sufficient.”

With that in mind, Shebib refuses to let his disease interfere with his ambitions. He continues to collaborate with Drake while working on his own creative projects and launching a youth outreach program that will give Toronto children access to recording studios.  

“Everyone’s like, ‘Why do you walk so fast?’ he concluded. “Because I can, and sometimes I can’t. Right now, I can.”

Shebib’s accomplishments demonstrate that MS is not in any way a barrier to success. He wants to achieve as much as he can while he still has the time, and he doesn’t plan to let his condition slow him down.

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