Hip-hop superstar Drake helps bring high-speed internet service to north Pickering

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Published March 31, 2022 at 11:08 am

drake
(Photo: Jonathan Short/Canadian Press)

If you’ve ever wondered just how much power Toronto hip-hop superstar Drake has, your answer can be found in the internet issues facing residents in neighbouring Pickering’s northern hamlets.

What’s that? Those folks have high-speed internet now?

Chalk that up to the power of Drake.

Two and a half years ago, the global hip-hop and entertainment icon took to social media to call on the ‘Mayor of Pickering’ to fix the Internet issues where his regular producer, Boi-1da, lives and works. Boi-1da was trying to send Drake some of his latest beats but the poor internet connection meant they couldn’t be downloaded.

Drake then took to his Instagram page with a plea for better service for his pal. “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.”

In turn, the City of Pickering issued a clever, tongue-in-cheek response referencing a myriad of Drake’s song titles and lyrics to address the connectivity issue, while also communicating some of the City’s key accomplishments and priorities.

The story went viral and was picked up by traditional and digital media outlets in Canada and around the world. Seemingly overnight, Pickering attracted the attention of the entire broadband industry, with many Internet Service Providers reaching out to discuss broadband enhancement and expansion in its hamlets and rural areas.

Bell Canada was the first provider in and have now deployed a “significant” fibre Internet project in Pickering’s underserviced areas.

The result of all this is Boi-1da, who earned a Grammy in 2019 for his work on Drake’s God’s Plan record and has been nominated a total of 14 times, 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 in north Pickering.

“To be called out by a superstar like Drake over social media is not an everyday occurrence.  However, it did shine a light on the digital divide for many of our residents and businesses in our hamlets and rural areas,” said Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan. “I’m thrilled that Bell Canada answered the call and will be servicing 21,000 additional locations in Pickering over the next three years. 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’.”

By the end of the year Bell Canada will have installed high-speed Internet in Pickering’s hamlets of Kinsale, Whitevale, Claremont, and Green River. In addition, Pickering’s filming backlot, which is the largest backlot in Canada, will be connected later this summer – further strengthening the City’s film and television industry. Bell Canada looks to bring all-fibre broadband access to approximately 21,000 additional Pickering locations over the next three years.

Drake didn’t comment on the announcement but he did re-post the City of Pickering’s announcement on his Instagram page.

Drake producer Boi-1da and Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan

Boi-1da, AKA Matthew Samuels, was quick to praise Ryan and Bell Canada.

“I want to thank Mayor Ryan, the City of Pickering, and of course Bell Canada for providing this new high speed Internet connection.  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.”

Samuels was born in Kingston, Jamaica and grew up in North York, Scarborough and Ajax. He attended Pickering High School. The producer of record for Eminem’s Not Afraid release, Boi-1da has been working with Drake since 2011.

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