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James Blake is definitely an artist’s artist. In an exclusive new interview with Spotify’s new feature series Secret Genius James Blake broke the news on two huge encounters with two of the biggest stars on the planet. Explaining his work on Beyonce’s Lemonade track “Forward,” the Colour in Anything crooner revealed that he actually turned down the opportunity to sing lyrics provided by Beyonce and company. His reason: the lyrics just weren’t his own. “I’ve never sung anybody else’s lyrics, so I just assumed that that’s not I was going to be doing. So I got my phone out and sang some of my own lyrics that were about something else and about somebody else. But it fit somehow into the song and it fit into the album, and… I’m just honored that they used it…If anything it just gave me an appetite to work with her more, because I’d love to hear a full song in that way.” Regarding known fan Drake, Blake also spoke on a time when he denied a check from Drake. Drake’s 2014 single “0 to 100/The Catch-Up” initially featured a sample of an instrumental Blake sent to OVO with the intent of locking down a collaboration with the Toronto rapper. Because of this, Blake did not allow Drake and OVO permission to use his work, thus was not included on the song’s final cut. Via Blake:
I sent them some stuff just hoping to just do a collaboration of some kind. And I got an email the day before “0 to 100/The Catch Up” came out. And it just said, ‘Hey we’re using this beat you made from like four years ago.’ I only sent it as a collaborative idea, not to be sampled on a record. ‘Hey we’re using this. Just quickly send me your approval so we can just put it out.’ I was like ‘No.’ So I got them to take it off.
I remember having a conversation with my publisher later, and saying, ‘What did you think of that decision?; Because you know that was a massive album. I asked how much money exactly I turned down by doing that, and… I spat out my drink. But I could have made far more money if I had taken certain opportunities, or gone to the right parties. And actually, I a little bit regretted, because it is good, it sounds good on the track. I just did it as a matter of principle at the time. I really liked it. And I think had they come to me beforehand and said ‘We really want to use this, what do you think?’ I probably would have said yes.
Just because someone has an impressive amount of clout and a global platform, I don’t give a shit about that, I just want to make good music with people. And it was good music. But just ask me. And you know, I’m over it. If anything, I could actually do with the track being out, I did like it, but I don’t regret the decision. So, for anybody who wondered why a version of that came out and then never made it to the record, that’s why.
You can stream the entire interview below.