Toronto, ON – An essential foundation of hip-hop culture is the ability to identify mediocrity and then use creativity to exceed any previous standard. A combination of passion and admirable work ethic has proven to take our society to a whole new level- add a whole lot of heart, and you have the story of Canadian hip-hop. Anyone who has remotely paid attention to the cycle of our urban community can easily spot that talent is plenty and structure has been minimal, however we’ve never lacked the desire to thrive. From Michie Mee, to Kardinal and now to the incredible story of Drake, we’ve lost a few things but never spirit.
Boi-1da has been an influential part of the current growth happening in our industry. As the beat maker behind the Billboard chart-topper “Best I Ever Had” and the current banger “Forever” featuring Kanye West, Eminem, Lil Wayne and Drake – 1da is creating an international presence. I had to chance to go to 1da’s house and really get a glimpse into what his world is like (Shout-out to his 10-year old brother, Mikey who does the best Lil Wayne impression).
HipHopCanada celebrated with Boi-1da on October 16th at Embassy nightclub in Toronto as he turned 23 years old.
HipHopCanada: Congrats on the Grammy pre-nominations – where were you when you first heard the news?
Boi-1da: I was in LA in my hotel room and then HustleGRL told me. I was shocked.
HipHopCanada: Who was the first person you told?
Boi-1da: My sister.
HipHopCanada: How has your family responded to your success?
Boi-1da: Before they were sceptical that someone is going to make it when billions are doing it – but my dad has known Drake for years, so he sees the big things he’s doing. He finally acknowledges that we’re doing really successful things – except that my brother says I’m too famous to hang around with him.
HipHopCanada: What would you be if you weren’t a producer?
Boi-1da: I always wanted to be a basketball player until I discovered Pizza Pockets.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] You were recently at the Timbaland listening party in LA, right?
Boi-1da: Yeah, and he has a track with Drake. As soon as it was played, the girls went crazy!
HipHopCanada: What did the track sound like?
Boi-1da: The track was AMAZING – I can’t remember the name but the melody is stuck in my head.
(Interview stops, he finds out Drake’s US sales for So Far Gone are 139,000 – 223,326 by the time the November 11, 2009 Soundscan numbers are released and close to 30,000 digital albums sold.)
HipHopCanada: What is your favourite track on So Far Gone?
Boi-1da: Successful. It’s a very inspiring song and Drake took a creative twist. Almost every rapper has a track that talks about their dreams, but Drake kept it so relatable and real.
HipHopCanada: For producers starting out, can you explain how having a manager works?
Boi-1da: The manager generally gets 15% – they basically handle all the business, I handle all of the creative aspects.
HipHopCanada: Who is your management team?
Boi-1da: I currently have no manager but I’m in talks with a very serious management company. I have Violator hollering at me, a bunch of people. Everybody wants to manage me; management is a touchy situation.
HipHopCanada: How do you decide?
Boi-1da: Whoever I feel most comfortable with, and you have to do it from business standpoint. What’s their track record like? But really, nobody does it better than you yourself. I feel better about blaming myself if there is some sort of mistake and that’s why I’m not in a rush.
HipHopCanada: What’s the current Dre situation?
Boi-1da: I’m currently submitting tracks for Detox – I haven’t met him and haven’t been in the studio with him. The situation came about because he heard the production I did for Kardinal Offishall’s “Set It Off” and wanted me to make something similar.
HipHopCanada: What is the story behind “Forever”?
Boi-1da: “Forever” was done last year but as a version with Drake and Lil Wayne. Then it was supposed to be an album track for Drake but everybody thought the song was bigger, so we decided to get Kanye. Last minute Eminem jumped on –you know the Lebron/ Interscope connection. Then we put Lil Wayne back on it and it blew up.
HipHopCanada: Have any of those artists hit you up for production?
Boi-1da: I’ve been sending track s to Eminem since then.
HipHopCanada: 50 Cent was on Hot 97 saying that he didn’t think Eminem knew the line-up for “Forever”.
Boi-1da: Eminem knew who was on the song. He was the last person to get on the song. Why would Eminem get on a track with someone he didn’t know?
HipHopCanada: Who is the worst rapper out right now?
Boi-1da: KIA SHINE. KIA SHINE. He’s the worst rapper I’ve ever heard.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] So there is obviously no truth to his claim he was behind “Best I Ever Had”?
Boi-1da: Nope. And if there was, why would he save his only good rhymes for Drake?
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] Moving on- how has your life changed? What’s your average day like?
Boi-1da: Wake up, eat, make a beat. Play Xbox, make another beat and go to bed. Occasionally do something. I rarely party.
HipHopCanada: But we’ll make your birthday party on the 16th an exception.
Boi-1da: [Laughing] Chuck Norris is hosting!
HipHopCanada: The whole city should come out to celebrate you. Anyway, you’re known to have a strong faith. How do you balance your spirituality in this industry?
Boi-1da: I try to stay away from certain stuff – I’m not a perfect human being. I try to represent myself as much as a good person could. I stay around the positive people.
HipHopCanada: When I first met you, you told me that your life started coming together when you started going to church.
Boi-1da: It’s true though – I felt like I was at that breaking point. I just prayed and took my mind off of dreams – I went to church. I felt like a lot of things came together. But again, I’m not perfect but I strive to be.
HipHopCanada: What Toronto artists are you working with?
Boi-1da: All of them [Laughing]. I’m working with Richie Sosa, Breeze, Camo, August, Kim Davis, O’mar, Famous.
HipHopCanada: What does it take for you to work with an artist?
Boi-1da: For them to be good. If they’re good at what they do, if they’re not, I probably won’t answer your call.
HipHopCanada: What equipment do you use?
Boi-1da: FL Studio 9 and a laptop [Laughing].
HipHopCanada: Who is the coolest celebrity you’ve met?
Boi-1da: Dave Chappell. He told me that I shouldn’t wear so much blue in LA and that I may want to mix it with rep slippers and a red hat. I didn’t notice I was wearing all blue. I went outside at a Jamie Foxx party and Busta/Dave were outside smoking. Dave Chappell is hilarious.
HipHopCanada: Any celebrities crushes?
Boi-1da: Keri Hilson.
HipHopCanada: Have you met her?
Boi-1da: Nope but I will meet her if it’s the last thing I do! [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: Have you heard rumours about yourself that were insane?
Boi-1da: That one rumour that I was signing to Intersope. It was in the same rumour that Masters was dating Ravon Simone [Laughing].
HipHopCanada: What’s next?
Boi-1da: Lots of exciting stuff going on but the stuff I’m doing with Drake is craziest. He’s doing stuff that hasn’t done anything done before. I want to give you a hint – it’s something so big – but I can’t.
HipHopCanada: Have you had any Canadian pioneers hit you up and give you advice?
Boi-1da: They may not technically be pioneers yet – I get a lot of advice from D10 and 40 but they’re in the same boat as me. 40 is the most realistic people to talk to because everything he says is real. He just gave me a lot of advice as to how to go about things – D10 is the person I go to about life questions.
HipHopCanada: Can I make a request?
Boi-1da: [Laughing] Okay.
HipHopCanada: I want a full Boi-1da produced, Rich Kidd rapping on the track.
Boi-1da: That just may happen very soon.
Written by Tara Muldoon for HipHopCanada