Next week, Drake’s much-anticipated album Nothing Was the Same finally arrives and along for the ride again is producer Boi-1da. The Grammy-winning Canadian producer has worked with a slew of top-notch talent over the years, including Eminem, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, as well as helping Drake shape his sound since his early mixtapes. Rolling Stone recently spoke with Boi-1da about how Drake’s progressed over the years, his desire to mentor younger producers and what beverage he’d like to sip out of his next Grammy.
This year alone you’ve produced songs for everybody from 50 Cent to Kelly Rowland to Talib Kweli. Where do you find all the time?
I don’t do anything other than make music and play video games. When I get to the studio I don’t really waste time, if I spend a day in the studio, I end up with six pieces of work. I just work really hard.
What were your contributions to Nothing Was the Same?
I worked on three records on that album. One record was called “The Language”, it’s a crazy song with a lot of energy and I think a lot of people are going to enjoy that. I also did “Pound Cake” with Drake and Jay Z, and I also had some additional production on the intro called “Tuscan Leather.” I’m really excited about everybody hearing all those tracks because they’re work that I’’m really proud of and Drake are really proud of.
You’ve worked with him since his early mixtapes. How has he grown?
He’s gotten better as a rapper and a lyricist and understanding himself musically. He’s just become a better artist; his shows, the way he performs, just everything about him has grown. I feel like a lot of people are going see the growth on Nothing Was the Same because he took it to another level. As an artist, he just grew up, and this album is showing what’s going on with him now in a different, new way.
You also produced “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”, which marked your first time collaborating with Jay Z. What was that like?
It was my first time that I’ve done anything with Jay Z and he killed the song, it was him and Rick Ross. I scratched that one off my bucket list because I always wanted to do a song with Jay Z and I finally got to collaborate with him.
Speaking of Magna Carta Holy Grail, is it true that you introduced Ebony “WondaGurl” Oshunrindie [the 16-year-old Canadian producer who produced “Crown”] to Jay?
I didn’t actually introduce her to Jay Z, but I did mentor her very early on, in a very good program in Toronto called The Remix Project that helps kids achieve whatever they want to achieve. This Jay-Z thing was through Travis Scott. WondaGurl does her own thing, so she and Travis Scott were working together and they ended up getting one on Jay Z’s album. That’s pretty dope, she’s a 16-year-old girl and she got a production on Jay Z’s album, I’m so proud of her. If you want to learn and you have talent, I’ll want to work with you, it’s something that I feel good about doing.
You recently took to Twitter to call out “cookie cutter” producers. What’s the story behind that?
I was listening to the radio and was coming across a lot of producers’ stuff, everything just sounds the same, there’s no creativity, I remember coming up in a time when I was listening to music and there were producers like Pharrell, Timberland, Scott Scorch and Dr. Dre who had their own individual sound. I feel like a lot of producers, even producers making a lot of noise, are just not being innovative enough. They’re just copying what everybody else is doing and not thinking outside the box. I feel like music – not really music but hip-hop is in the state it’s in just because of the lack of creativity – I’m not sure what people’s motives are in this industry. Maybe it’s just to get paid, but I just don’t see a lot of creativity amongst the mass of producers and I’m calling it out to put the word out there that I’m not impressed with a lot of stuff that’s going on, just a few guys.
How has being a father affected you as a producer?
I’ve adjusted to it. My daughter was born in 2010 and I had a bit of a difficult time adjusting my life that year, because I just started taking off with my music. I have her every weekend and if I do any traveling I do it during the week and I make sure I see her on the weekend because it’s very important to be in a child’s life, especially a young girl. I know a lot of lot of girls that are little bit off, you know what I’m saying, and I always grew up with my dad in my life. How could I not be in my kid’s life?
Does she give you feedback?
All the time, all the time. I ask her, “Do you like this beat?” and she’s like “No” or I’ll ask her if she likes the song and she’ll say no. [Laughs] All she wants to listen to is “Started From the Bottom,” she loves that song.
In the trailer for Nothing Was the Same, Drake makes his crew do shots out of his Grammy. What’s your preferred beverage to sip out of awards?
Vitaminwater. No, I’m just joking with you. I’ve never taken a sip out of any awards because if it’s just not sanitary.
If this album wins a Grammy, would you break that tradition?
Yes I would, I would sip a shot of Patron.