Boi-1da recently did an interview with HipHopDX where he tcouhes on Drake‘s ‘Started From The Bottom’ track, as well as gives some background story into what started from the bottom really meant.
“He was working at “Degrassi: [The Next Generation]” and was working at a restaurant where he was doing spoken word over the piano. Everybody was working from the bottom, and we just all shared the same vision—which was Drake. We all believed in him”
Boi-1da is responsible for producing some of Drake’s biggest hits such as ‘Best I Ever Had’ and now ‘5AM In Toronto’. Read some excerpts from the interview below.
HipHopDX: Since “Started From The Bottom” is blowing up right now, can you tell us some stories that relate with the song’s theme? I know that prior to your brief Rap career years back, you had a nine to five at Winners, right?
Boi-1da: I definitely started from the bottom. We all did as a team—me, Drake, everybody. I always say this in interviews. We started working out of a studio that was rat-infested. I was working at Winners at the time, and Drake was working at two places. He was working at “Degrassi: [The Next Generation]” and was working at a restaurant where he was doing spoken word over the piano. Everybody was working from the bottom, and we just all shared the same vision—which was Drake. We all believed in him.
That song means a lot, because despite what anybody thinks about Drake and them making comments about how he didn’t start from the bottom, he did start from the bottom. We all did. We all started from a place that was not where we are now. A lot of people to say that, but it’s not easy for a rapper to come from “Degrassi” and to make it mainstream as one of the biggest rappers in the world.
To me, he really started from the bottom. When I hear people say [that he didn’t], it really upsets me, because I was there when we all started it and went through the struggles. He is how he is portrayed. The TV show and all that stuff factors into being a Hip Hop artist, because you know how Hip Hop is. You got to have street cred, this and that. But Drake made a lane of his own.
DX: How old were you when you were working at Winners?
Boi-1da: I was 17-18…
DX: So you were still in high school?
Boi-1da: I was literally just leaving high school. Drake wasn’t in high school. I met him when I got out of high school.
DX: What restaurant did Drake work out of?
Boi-1da: I forgot the name. I don’t even know if he wants me to mention that. Just say he got two jobs [Laughs].
DX: You did a little cameo in the Drake video. It was at a Shoppers Drug Mart out of all places. Were you surprised when they told you to come to a Shoppers?
Boi-1da: Well, yeah. I was wondering what they were doing. I know with Drake, OB [O’Brien] and Ryan [Silverstein], those three together are straight comedy. I knew it was going to be something funny. I went to kick it. If they needed me, I was like, “Whatever.” They told me they needed me for the scene, and I just did it.
DX: So they just asked you to come on set for that short scene?
Boi-1da: Yeah, I was chilling and Director X said, “For this scene, I need you to take these boxes of condoms and drop it on the table.” I was like, “Alright.” [Laughs.] This was my first time I ever acted in anything.
DX: The song talked about Drake’s rise to stardom, and you’ve known Drake for a while. Looking back, are you surprised at how big he’s become?
Boi-1da: I’ve always said this. When I first met the guy and heard his music, I said, “This guy—and not to disrespect anyone—was going to be the next Jay-Z.” He was going to be that guy. I always knew he was going to be that guy, and it’s crazy to see what he’s doing now. I never knew it was going to be as huge as it is now, but I always knew he was going to be that guy. He had everything working for him. He had the swag, the look, and on top of that, the music was always spectacular. To this day, I’ve never heard a bad Drake verse.
DX: Was that back in 2008…2009 when you met him?
Boi-1da: I met him in 2007…’06-ish.
DX: With Toronto rappers in 2006, the city had this “screwface” mentality, and you didn’t see guys make it big out the city. Did his success surprise you?
Boi-1da: Oh yeah, definitely. It definitely played a role with the stigma and the Toronto screwface mentality, but at the end of the day, the music spoke for itself. You couldn’t say anything about the music. He’s not lying in his raps. He’s not talking about anything unrealistic.
DX: He knows his lane…
Boi-1da: He keeps it 100% real. He talks about his life and enjoying it.
DX: Should we be expecting more records with you and Drake on Nothing Was The Same?
Boi-1da: Oh yes. Me and him have been collaborating on this album, so you’re going to see me a few times on this album.
DX: Can you give us any hints on the direction he’s going in, in terms of sound, features, or vibe that he’s going with for the album?
Boi-1da: The direction is just legendary. I’ll just say that. He has some records on there that’s going to be a great body of work. People are going to be very shocked. He’s taking it to the next level.
DX: Sometimes he goes in on records like “Ransom,” or “9AM in Dallas,” and sometimes he becomes vulnerable on records like “Marvin’s Room.” From a fan’s perspective, do you have a preference between hard-spitting Drake or vulnerable, singing Drake?
Boi-1da: I like everything Drake does. It’s so real. It’s him. When you get something that’s more of him being vulnerable, it’s something that happened to him. Every song that he made, there’s no lying. It’s something that has happened to him. There’s just different sides, and you get to know him through his music because he really exposes himself with his music.
DX: Why do you think people get on him for being that way?
Boi-1da: I think people get on him for that because they’re uncomfortable with themselves. They can’t get comfortable with themselves and they get on him for that. Music is art, and he’s portraying art in telling his life story. Not everyone is a tough guy everyday. You’re not happy everyday; you’re not sad everyday, you know? All his songs have a different spectrum, and he’s just giving you the realness of his life. He’s not lying about anything.
DX: That surprised me, because I thought you would prefer the more lyrical Drake over those hard-hitting beats since that follows suit with your signature sound—you’ve even described them as “smacky” beats.
Boi-1da: Yeah, I just like everything from Drake. Because as much as you think one song is more lyrical than the other, it’s all lyrical. Even songs when he’s singing, the pictures that he’s painting when he’s singing is something you can imagine. A lot of people can’t do that with their music.
You can find the full interview @ Hip-Hop DX.