HE is not a big name in Jamaican music circles, but Canada’s Boi-1da (pronounced Boy Wonda) is one of contemporary pop’s most in-demand producers.
The Toronto-reared Boi-1da has worked with a string of A-list hip hop and Rhythm and Blues stars. His resume includes several chart-topping songs and awards.
Who exactly is he? For starters, he is Jamaican.
“I was born in Kingston and lived in Braeton, Portmore. I ended up moving to Canada at the age of three to an area in Toronto called North York, and I’ve been living in Toronto ever since,” said the 27-year-old, whose real name is Matthew Samuels.
Boi-1da’s production credits include rapper Drake’s Grammy-winning album Take Care and single Over; Eminem’s album Recovery and single Not Afraid (which both won Grammys); Busta Rhymes’ upcoming album, Extinction Level Event 2; High School by Nicki Minaj, as well as tracks by Jay Z, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Kardinal Offishall, Lil Wayne, Nicole Scherzinger, Canadian pop band Down With Webster and Keri Hilson.
His current projects include albums for Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne and Drake.
“I am focused on Kendrick Lamar’s album, I’ve been in the studio with him a lot and we’ve been creating some great stuff together, I am also working on Lil Wayne’s brand new album The Carter V and new music with Drake,” he told Splash.
Though Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Spragga Benz are some of the dancehall acts who excite him, working with Jamaican artistes is not in Boi-1da’s immediate plans.
He was only 15 when he got involved in music.
“I was in high school, and always interested in music, sounds and especially beats,” he recalled. “During a discussion with my friend trying to figure out how music was constructed, he told me about a computer programme called FL Studio that allows you to put together beats. I got extremely curious and went home and downloaded it and the rest is history.”
His first project was a mix tape for a teenaged actor named Drake.
“It was called Room for Improvement. This took place in a time where Drake wasn’t as popular as he is now for his music but more for his role on (Canadian television show) Degrassi High. I produced two tracks, City is Mine and Do What You Do,” Boi-1da said.
Since then, his sound and recording techniques have changed, with the use of live instruments and fusing the drum and bass feel of dancehall/reggae in his songs.
“I always try to incorporate Jamaica elements into my productions. if you listen to the song Over by Drake and High School by Nicki Minaj, there are definitely elements of dancehall in there. I also used to put an air horn in a lot of my beats earlier in my career, which is very instrumental in dancehall,” he noted.
To date, Boi-1da’s creativity has helped him score seven number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Success, he says, has not gone to his head.
“It’s a great feeling working with major acts. Just to know that the hard work that I’ve put in for many years has brought me to a level to work with people I’ve only dreamed of meeting and working with, it gives me a sense of confidence.”