Liam Murphy

March 7, 2023

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Forgotten's mixtape offers an opportunity to listen to the world's biggest artist through an engrossing, futuristic lens

The scope of futurism is an ever-expanding horizon. As far as technological advancements take us, there will always be those that push the realms of the imagination further and further. One innovation that eludes mankind's collective grasp is the time machine. This is mostly due to the fact that the invention of a time machine would make linear time fold in on itself. But, maybe someday that holy grail of science fiction will become a reality?

One thing we can say for sure is that if one was invented, there's one musician that springs to mind that would be able to afford such a technological marvel: Drake.

Whether you love, hate or are ambivalent towards the rapper, his popularity is undeniable. Though so many musicians and producers have strived to show off their skills with an acapella or sample as a recognisable aspect to pull listeners in, it takes a unique appropriation to really get the attention of the internet at large.

Simultaneously a seriously-well produced mixtape and a time warp oeuvre, Forgotten's 2043: OVO ODYSSEY uses the Toronto-based rapper's acapellas – as well as a few special feature verses – to create an impressive feat of production with an endearing concept. We spoke to producer Forgotten about his latest project, what inspired him and how such a unique mixtape came about...

How did you get started, and how did this particular project come about?

I started making music in like 2012. I was in college, my freshman dorm room and I was working on my my studio art degree to be a painter. No real desire to be a musician or anything like that. So it just kind of happened randomly and I just started mixing tracks or finding acapellas on YouTube, finding instrumentals to go with them and I just got so much joy out of that. Since then I’ve never stopped. 

After I graduated, I learned about music production, how to make beats. I watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials on what plugins to use and how to mix. I started remixing songs with my own beats and over time I just got better. I trained my ear too. I just kind of know what sounds good to me. 

At first I did I did a lot of old school rappers like Jay Z, artists that I grew up listening to. As I started producing my sound I realised it catered to artists like Travis Scott and Drake. A sort of ‘spacey’ sound. 

What separates this project from the Travis Scott one I released is this one is more of a collage. I'm really taking samples from different parts of his discography.

How was it working with Drake’s vocals?

He's a very risky artist to work on because the original tracks are so well-known, and often remixes or things of this nature aren’t taken seriously because he’s such a huge artist. But, to be clear the acapellas are ripped on their own, without any instrumentation. That is why I refer to this project as a collage. I’ve used his acapellas, as well as samples from elsewhere and original instrumentation.

In that way, the listening experience I want to try and provide is an interesting one where people can pick out aspects they recognise, but they might be completely different than the original. 

For example, YEBBA INTERLUDE is probably one of my favourites on the release. The acapella is from Her Loss and his cadence at the beginning of the track I sampled is very slow. The sample I started working on was from a Madonna track. I felt that the two would go together. I just had to slow the tempo down, too. It was at 123 BPM, so I slowed it down to 110 BPM. I actually sampled Certified Lover Boy for a part of the instrumental, so it is three different parts coming together. 

What made you want to do a Drake album?

Drake is an artist I listened to throughout college, so I kind of have a familiarity of his music and most of the songs. I've always had in the back of my mind that it would be cool to do a Drake mixtape, but I knew that it was going to be tough and I also wanted to keep it super concise. I didn't just want to make a 30-track mixtape. I wanted to keep it really simple. 

I also wanted to do something that felt a little shifted, an alternate universe, another world.

Obviously, Drake is one of the biggest artists in the world, too. So I think that if you're going to do a great project, you really have to know his music. 

It can be difficult to work with his vocals as a lot of them are very melodic. So, for that reason I was more drawn to verses and songs where he was rapping as it allowed me a little more room to create. 

Did you have a distinct part of his discography you wanted to pick from?

Yeah, it's funny because most of the tracks are made up of later stuff. That's another thing. I didn't also want to remix a bunch of old records. I felt as though these newer tracks would be the ones that were fresh in peoples’ heads and where Drake sounds more contemporary than a decade ago or something. 

There are certain songs on here that are actually unreleased. And in that, as well as in the project in general, there is the risk of YouTube flagging it. I have no real fear of that, I just wanted to present people with the project. 

Do you purposely try and subvert an acapella's tone in the instrumentation?

When it comes to constructing each track, I find I have to feel a real connection to it. So if I don't feel that connection, if I don't feel an emotion, I'm normally not going to put it out or I'm going to put it in the drafts. 

I remember having that sort of connection moment with DAY ONES. I really felt something listening to it. It kind of took me back a little bit just because of the instrumental I used. Everything fit perfectly. To answer the question, I wouldn’t say I intentionally try to subvert the acapella or the track it came from. I just let what I’m hearing take me to an interesting conclusion.

I wanted to be selective with this project. Initially, I was thinking of doing 20 tracks, but I actually took out like, six of them. I just wanted to make it short and sharp. 

You create a lot of new collaborations on here, don’t you?

Yeah, so I’ve combined features or verses from different songs and different artists. Again, it’s to make the album an experience where you sit back and go… wait, I recognise this verse, but not from a Drake song. 

Like, to go back to DAY ONES, in the verse, Drake mentions J. Cole. So I thought I’d put it together with a verse from Cole. The two really fit together well, and for people that know these artists, that realisation is a really fun experience.

What is the concept that weaves its way through the release?

So with everything I do, I start from the title. So I think this project probably would have not happened if I didn't have the right title because I've had different titles in mind. At one point I wanted to do a title a bit like Honestly, Nevermind or Nothing Was The Same but it wasn't really clicking for me. 

The title 2043: OVO Odyssey was actually from my mom. She put me onto the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. I watched and thought it was amazing. It was actually the future. I really liked the word odyssey, and then I though that it and OVO fit really well. I started having this idea of a futuristic concept.

So from there, I thought of it as this strange idea where Drake, from the future, goes back in time. And that was where the description came in. I wanted something short that suggested a bit of a time warp scenario. What helped and supported this was that a lot of Drake’s lyrics are nostalgic, he raps about the past a lot so it fits together. When you are listening, I feel you can fool yourself into thinking you are hearing Drake rap that comes from 20 years into the future.

Can you explain the artwork?

The main figure in the artwork is from a Japanese artist called Hajime Sorayama. He does a lot of futuristic, robotic art. I saw this particular one of his, this android female. I realised that that picture would go really well with a background that was suggestive of Nothing Was The Same, that way it – along with the release’s title – would give a clue as to what the listener was going to hear. 

Both the artwork and the title itself helped in the crafting of the sound and communicating this sense of futurism too.

Why do you think the album has achieved such popularity in a short amount of time?

Well when I was done with it, I was excited about it. But it’s not like I immediately thought, “this is going to do really well”. I think the cover art is a big draw.

One of the reasons I think that people have shared it and hyped it up is because there are quite a few people who think that Drake has fallen off lately. So I sort of wanted to take an opportunity to inject some acapellas with my own energy. But, obviously all due respect to Noah Shebib, Drake’s main producer.

Mainly I just hope that people have an interesting listening experience, that it surprises people and people connect with it.

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