Mega-hit producer Boi-1da keynote speaker at The Cipher conference at Oshawa’s Durham College


Published May 23, 2023 at 4:56 pm

Grammy-winning Pickering producer Boi-1da will be the keynote speaker at The Cipher: Black Male Empowerment Conference Thursday at Durham College’s Campus Rec and Wellness Centre in Oshawa.

Boi-1ida – known to his family as Matthew Samuels -is an in-house producer for Drake’s OVO Sound label and has produced for a variety of artists and groups, most notably major stars Dr. Dre, Rhianna, Eminem, Usher, Kendrick Lamar, Jack Harlow, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and Drake – much of that in his north Pickering studio.

He produced Eminem’s hit single ‘Not Afraid’ and Drake’s chart-toppers ‘Work’ and ‘God’s Plan,’ the latter winning a Grammy for Best Song. Boi-1da was also nominated for Producer of the Year at the 2019 Grammies and has had a hand in 14 total nominations over the years.

Pickering’s Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da

Samuels, who went to Pickering High School, was brought up listening to Jamaican dance hall music and started using a beat-making program at age 15. By the time he was 18 the three-time Battle of the Beatmakers champion was working on mix-tapes for Drake.

The focus of the conference this year is to “engage and empower Black male students from across Durham Region and provide them with access to a wide range of leadership and engagement opportunities,” said event presenter Durham District School Board. “We believe it is imperative to remain mindful of the importance of the need for more Black male role models and emphasize the goals of promoting positive transitions through various academic pathways, while eliminating barriers to success.”

The board’s Director of Education, Camille Williams-Taylor, said she is “excited” to have the conference back in person this year. “This is a valuable opportunity for our intermediate and secondary Black male students to experience an opportunity to gather, learn, be energized, and see themselves reflected as they strive to be the best version of who they can be.”

This conference will provide opportunities for sharing and growth, which will enhance students’ understanding of navigating through Grades 7, 8, 9, and 10 and planning for their future, the press release added.

Durham College CAO Scott Blakey said the conference will help young Black men “explore all opportunities” available to them.

“Exposing students to a wide range of programs and career paths early on allows them to be inspired and engaged in their future,” he said, adding the school is “committed” to helping people reach their “full potential.”

The conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday with 400 Black students in grades 7-10 expected to attend. For more information, please visit

indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising