Drake used to call Boi-1da on his cell phone, late night when he needed some beats. But their working relationship was beset by technical woes, due to the poor Internet service in Boi-1da’s hometown of Pickering, where the Grammy-winning producer’s studio is located. So frustrating was the issue that Drake took to his Instagram stories in 2020 to ask the Southern Ontario city’s mayor to set up better Wi-Fi towers in the region.
“Can the mayor of Pickering set up some stronger wifi towers so @boi1da can be able to send me all his newest beats?? Trying to cook up. Thanks. -Drake,” wrote the rapper.
To which the the city penned a clever (cringe?) reply incorporating some of Drizzy’s most popular song titles and lyrics. “I’m responding on behalf of @mayordaveryan and @cityofpickering I’m Upset that @boi1da was having trouble with our public WiFi. It’s the Best I Ever Had, so I’m not sure why Matt couldn’t link up proper,” said the city’s Instagram post.
Well, turns out Pickering isn’t just all talk. On Tuesday, the city announced on Instagram that they’ve finally heeded Drake’s request by bringing pure fibre broadband to residents in its hamlets and rural areas.
“Drake’s call for better Internet in Pickering is answered!” said the post, along with a photo of Boi-1da and Pickering mayor Dave Ryan in the producer’s home studio. “Remember when Drake called on the ‘Mayor of Pickering’ to fix Internet connectivity issues where his regular producer, Boi1da, lives and works? … Well, as a result of the City of Pickering’s advocacy for broadband and Bell Canada’s recent expansion of pure fibre Internet in Pickering’s hamlets and rural areas, Grammy award-winning producer, Boi1da, can now collaborate with top music artists like Drake, Eminem, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Jack Harlow directly from his home studio here in north Pickering.”
Both Drake and Boi-1da shared the announcement on their Instagram stories, with the producer tagging Aubrey and writing, “[Goat emoji] behaviour.”
Poor Internet infrastructure has apparently plagued Pickering for years. In 2017, the city applied for federal funding for the Connect to Innovate program to get broadband access into its rural areas, but it wasn’t approved.
“Northern Durham doesn’t have the capabilities, towers or whatever to support High Speed Internet. A lot of creatives, and business owners suffer from this problem that has been going on 10+ years,” tweeted Boi-1da in 2019.
After the exchange between Drake and Pickering went viral in 2020, several Internet Service Providers reached out to discuss broadband enhancement in the city. Bell Canada wound up being the first ISP to deploy a significant fibre Internet project in Pickering’s underserviced areas, including Kinsale, Whitevale, Claremont, and Green River.
“To be called out by a superstar like Drake over social media is not an everyday occurrence,” said Mayor Ryan in a statement. “However, it did shine a light on the digital divide for many of our residents and businesses in our hamlets and rural areas.” He added: “In addition to our residents, we also want to see high-speed broadband installed in our Innovation Corridor so that we can attract even more world class companies like Kubota Canada and FGF Brands to Pickering. We’re working ‘Non-Stop’.”
“I want to thank Mayor Ryan, the City of Pickering, and of course Bell Canada for providing this new high speed Internet connection,” said Boi-1da. “I work with international artists from all over the world, and it’s important to be able to do so right here from my home studio in Pickering in order to maximize our artistic and creative energies.”