Inside The Creation Of Drake's Hit Single 'Nice For What' & The Influence Of NOLA Bounce
“No One Has Done It Like This.”
On April 7, 2018, Drake surprised fans with a brand new single titled “Nice For What.”
The Toronto rapper is known for incorporating different sounds from around the world, and this time he infused a New Orleans signature style of music called “New Orleans Bounce” or as radio DJ Wild Wayne (aka the Mayor of New Orleans) would call it, “Rhythm N’ Bounce.”
“NOLA bounce artists and DJ’s take a mainstream r&b song and speed up the bpm’s, chop the hottest parts of the record, add 808 [drums], add a NOLA chant or rap, Triggaman snares or some similar snares,” he explained during a conversation about the background of the sound.
Using that formula, Drake used the beautiful and unique vocals of Lauryn Hill's 1998 hit single “Ex-Factor” as the main sample inside of the track. The excitement for the single came on March 14 when Hill’s son, Joshua Omaru, leaked a snippet of the original track then titled as “Showin’ Off” online.
It turns out that many who produce “Rhythm N’ Bounce’ would shy away from a challenge as using Hill’s classic vocals in fear that the sample would not be cleared. Drake is no stranger in that department as he sampled her 1998 hit “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in his 2014 track “Draft Day.”
According to Wild Wayne, Drake had been performing an original version of the record at shows before turning the concept into the second single to his forthcoming album Scorpion.
In early April, weeks after the release of the leak he called on 5th Ward Webbie to help build an authentic New Orleans bounce beat for the single. Known as the “Bounce King” with 20+ years in the game, Weebie is known as the leader of the genre with hits such as “Let Me Find Out,” “OoohhhWeee,” “Bend It Ova” featuring Lil’ Wayne and more. One night Weebie got a phone call from Lil’ Wayne’s manager Cortez Bryant to get some help with the “Bounce King.”
“We have a situation,” Weebie recalls the conversation with Bryant. “We need you to come through [Los Angeles] to see if you can help out with the situation. We need some bounce. Drake wants to bounce out this record “Nice For What.” He wanted to use the authentic sound. “
“[Drake] told us to do our thing,” he said.
“When we first got out there we turnt up at the VIP. Then we went to the studio afterwards and drank some more. It was a good time. Then he put us in the studio to hear the record - to put our bounce swag to it. We just loved it when we first heard the idea. The Lauryn Hill sample came on we just lost our mind! No one has done this right like this. Nobody has the balls to go this route. Everyone who supports bounce runs from it because they think ‘we are never going to get this sample cleared.’ We wanted to start working immediately. Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties with one of the microphones at the actual house. They booked us studio time for the next three days. They told us ‘just do y’all. Don’t hold anything back. We did what we did. “
Bounce music became popular in the early 1990’s into the early 2000’s. The sound comes mostly from what is called the “Triggaman” sample which (if you are old enough) includes a sample itself of the popular 1950’s television show Dragnet. The song that started it all was the 1986 single “Drag Rap” from The Showboys, which can also be heard in T.I.’s 2012 single “Ball” featuring Lil’ Wayne and Juvenile’s “Noila Clap.” Other artists that have been successful using the genre include DJ Jubilee, Dj Tucker, Souja Slim, B.G. and more.
One of the genre’s most successful artists goes by the name of Big Freedia. She was first heard in the mainstream when Beyonce added her vocals in her hit single “Formation.” That's the voice you hear in the first seconds of “Nice For What,” starting the song with pure energy and giving it that New Orleans taste. She spoke to The Fader recently about her experience working with Drake.
"They reached out to my team and they wanted me to be a part of the project," she said. "Once they told me, I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' I was super excited about my voice being at the beginning of the song. They sent the track for me to approve it and I was like, 'Shit, I don't care what I say on it, long as I'm on it.'"
5th Ward Weebie and BlaqNmilD put their final touches to what they had hoped would become the final version of Drake’s hit single. Instead, Drizzy used their direction to align themselves more with his vision for the track.
“We put the real bounce vocals, chopped it up, and did our thing,” he said. “We thought that what was [the version] that was going to come out, but unfortunately, it didn’t. [Drake] did his vision and his version, which is cool. We understand his vision that he wants to be out.”
Today (Apr 18), “Nice For What” made its home at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts giving an opportunity for the world to finally get familiar with New Orleans’ signature sound.
“People need that fresh right now,” Weebie says. “Everyone is getting fed the same meal everyday. We’ve been getting served the same lunch for the last 10 years. Right now it needs to. The party side never came all the way back. It’s time for that. Right before the summer too!”
5th Ward Weebie & BlaqNmilD's original vision for the track will also be released as a remix this Friday (Apr. 20).
“There’s more to come,” he says. “I’m waving the flag. We have the New Orleans Bounce remix. I want people to feel that energy. I want people to get that. They got to get that bounce.”
Get ready to party and listen to more of that New Orleans bounce below!
Watch Drake's "Nice For What" video below.