There’s a good chance if you look at the credits of the biggest songs of Drake’s career, Boi-1da’s name will be there. The multi-platinum producer has been by the rapper’s side for more than 15 years and knows what sacrifices have to be made to make classics.
“That night, I think all my friends were going out while I was working on ‘God’s Plan.’ I was adding a drum track to it and some bass. I was contemplating going out but I fought myself to stay in the studio,” Boi-1da told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Grammy award-winning producer explains how he and Drake make their hits, how NFTs are starting a producer revolution, and unreleased music he hopes comes out one day. Read the chat below!
What was the first studio session where you felt like you made it?
The first one was when I ended up going into the studio with Saukrates, a legendary Canadian artist, and Kardinal Official. Kardinal was the first rapper to make it out of Toronto onto the American mainstream. I was probably 17 when I was first in the studio with Kardinal. I think Drake and I were in there. This was probably in 2007.
You produced a few records for Kardinal Official around that time. Did those come from that first session?
That first session was before I worked with him. I don’t think I got to play anything. It was more of a meet-up thing. Afterward, we linked up. I remember him saying on a podcast I used to come over to his house using this busted Acer laptop, and played him all those records he ended up taking for his album like “Set It Off,” “Gimme Some,” and “Lighters.”
Who was the first artist you really collaborated with in the studio?
The first artist I was really working with was definitely Drake. We met when we were 17. I remember the first day I met him. We made one of the dopest records we ever made at the time. We made this record called “Do What You Do.” He was the first artist I felt I had chemistry with.
What is a typical session with you and Drake like? I’m assuming 40 is there.
40 is there sometimes. Usually, 40 and Drake will do their thing and I’ll pull up on them. With me, I may pull up stuff and Drake will pick something or he’ll have something he wants me to work on. I may also just vibe out and play some beats. The process is different every time. We don’t have a lot of footage of us in the studio because I don’t really pull out phones and cameras in the studio a lot. We just get to it. There’s no-nonsense in there.
What’s a noticeable suggestion you’ve made on a Drake record?
I’ll do that with other artists, but I have so much trust in Drake, I don’t suggest anything to him because he knows what to do already. He has a long-standing record of killing everything, so when it comes to a guy like that, you just give him what he needs and it’s over from there. He’s a machine.
Next month is the 10-year anniversary of Take Care. You produced “Headlines.” Are there any Take Care-era songs you did that never came out?
Yeah. Around that time, we had a lot of records we were doing together. I did the first single, but in the same year, I was having a kid and I had a lot going on. I wasn’t there a lot, which is why I only have one song on the album. I ended up doing a very important song. Life has to sometimes slow you down for a bit. I was taking care of my child for the most part. For the next album, I was very present and all over it.
You tweeted recently that you’re working on your own project. What’s going on with that?
I’m working on a series of compilation albums with some of your favorite artists. That’s the most information I can give you. It’s going to be really dope. There’ll be a lot of collabs, cool ideas, and dope beats. I’ve been working on it slowly, but I’m about to go full drive into it.
Are there older songs that’ll be on these compilations?
I got some stuff from a year ago that is going to make it on there. But, I just want to perfect everything and then put it out. It’s going to have collabs you wouldn’t expect.
You’re also helping the next generation of producers as part of Bacardi’s Music Liberates Music program by helping them create an NFT mixtape. Did you work hands-on with the producers?
The whole purpose of this mixtape is to shine a light on female producers in the industry. A lot of times, female producers get overshadowed. This movement Bacardi has started means a lot to me. I just coached them and listened to what they were doing to give them feedback. I didn’t directly produce anything. The music from all three of the producers — Bambii, Denise De’ion, and PERFXN — are from really dope producers. I sat with them and just listened to the music. The NFTs also allow fans to become part of the music and share royalties with the producers. That’s dope.
NFTs allow the creator to continuously get paid for their work. When it comes to that, how revolutionary is that for producers?
This is very revolutionary for producers. I’m thankful Bacardi put this together because it changes the game for producers. We’re always in the background, so we don’t always get that much visibility. NFTs are changing the narrative.
What do you need in the studio to make your best music?
All I need are some good speakers and sub-woofers. There can be anything going on in the studio and I won’t pay attention. I’m laser-focused. Funny story, I remember going to the studio for the first time with 40 when I was still using that old broken computer I made “Best I Ever Had,” “Forever,” “Not Afraid” and so many other hit records on. First time I went in the studio with 40, I plugged my computer in and he told me, “Yo, your computer is making a buzzing sound. You don’t hear it?” I actually didn’t hear it until he showed me. That’s how focused I am with the music.
What’s the most star-studded session you were in?
I was in the studio once with Timbaland, Drake, and Puff Daddy at the same time. That was a crazy session. I’ve also been in the studio with Dr. Dre years ago. I was super stoked. Dre is my idol. I was in the studio shivering because I was in the same vicinity.
How did the pandemic affect how you made music in 2020?
I love to collaborate with other producers and I wasn’t able to go to L.A. — or America in general — for a bit. In the beginning, the pandemic killed the vibe to the point I didn’t feel like making music. After a while, I was able to travel again and go to America to see my people. I don’t like working at my house because you’re too comfortable there.
Who was the first artist you were in the studio with?
Other than Drake, I’ve pulled up on A$AP Rocky. We did some cool stuff.
You said before that “God’s Plan” was made the same night you made “Diplomatic Immunity.” What was happening in that session?
I think I was at Nightbird Studios L.A. That studio has some magic in there. That night, I think all my friends were going out while I was working on “God’s Plan.” I was adding a drum track to it and some bass. I was contemplating going out, but I fought myself to stay in the studio. I got those two off and I got up out of there.
How did you end up on Kanye West’s “Ok, Ok”?
That was an idea I did with Vory a little bit ago. Kanye and Vory elaborated on it a little more and finished the song. I’ve been pretty mutual with Kanye. Obviously, there has been stuff going on between Kanye and Drake. But, at the time they were cool and the song was done a while ago. Kanye took a bunch of stuff out of the beat. That’s why it sounds bare bones, but it still sounds good.
What is the one unreleased song you wish would come out one day?
On my Verzuz battle, I previewed a song with Drake and Roddy Ricch. It’s pretty hard. I’d love for the song to come out, but it’s out of my control.
What’s coming up for you for the rest of the year and 2022?
I can’t ruin any of the surprises but there’s a lot of fire. This has been a great year for me musically and creatively. I feel I’ve been making some of the best music of my life this year.
I hope one of those collaborations is with Kendrick Lamar because “Blacker The Berry” is one of my favorite beats from you.
I can’t say much about that. But, stay tuned.