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March 05, 2010

Boi-1da Makes Drake's "Over" a Sureshot

Beatmaker Boi-1da Delivers Stellar Beatwork; Ambitious Changes Mark Impressive Arrangement Scheme

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

By no stretch of the imagination am I a major fan or opponent of Drake. Instead, when it comes to Drake, I respect and recognize him for what he represents most: a somewhat average punchline-based rapper with broad commercial appeal. But more importantly, when it comes to music, I call it like a see it; or in the case of beats, I call it like I hear it. And Drake aside, the beatwork on "Over," the lead single off the rap star's new album, is quite impressive.

For "Over," Boi-1da (pronounced "boy wonda") constructs a beat that includes an incredible section contrast. A section contrast is the term that I use to describe an arrangement scheme in which two or more sections in a beat that are not predicated upon one another (based on most of the same elements) or moving in a similar "direction" and feel. One of the best things about a section contrast is the fact that, when done right, they appropriately add the value of variety as well as a strong sense of tension and release. This, in turn, makes both the chorus (hook) and verse sections of the song much more climatic; which ultimately keeps the interest of the listener.

In "Over," Boi-1da builds the hook section around a sample that features a hovering strings (violin) arrangement, a wining guitar, and a chromatic brass phrase that moves left of Middle C (down in pitch). Making the hook section stand out even more, Boi-1da crafts a powerful drum framework, using a standard Southern Rap sound syncopated 1/8th hi-hat arrangement, with a precise sounding boom kick, and a smashing clap. Finally, spicing up this hook section even more, Boi-1da adds in a snare breakdown that bows, just before the verse section begins.

Next, Boi-1da builds a stripped-down verse section. (Can't really call this section the core groove, since the hook section plays a much more dominant role in the beat and song.) Seemingly pleased with the impact of the very well built out hook section, Boi-1da grounds the verse section in a minimalist style, using something that amounts to a pumped up drum track, with various impromptu truncated bass stabs for punctuation and chime, moving in marching band synchronicity. For the drum framework of the verse section, Boi-1da uses a straightforward arrangement that relies more on the military marching band-styel syncopated snare raps and percussion, and less on the kick hits, (I struggled to hear even one kick in this section). Fact is though, it's this marching-band steadiness and precision that gives the beat its best and most important repetitive quality. Rounding out the drum framework, Boi-1da includes an elongated 808, that hauntingly resonates throughout the balance of the verse section. Thus, in the final assessment of the beat for "over," Boi-1da masterfully crafts a beat that is as much ambitious as it is fundamental hip hop/rap.

Finally, I should note that the fact that Drake even picked this beat makes me respect him more. And quite frankly, I'm impressed by his decision to ignore going for more of the same, but instead, something perhaps more edgier—a beat with a verse section that challenged him to do more of the work. If Drake continues along this path, he may lose some of his fans, but on the other hand, he just might become an even more engaging lyricist, which, will likely garner him new fans.

Editor's Note.
It has been brought to my attention—by a BeatTips.com reader—that Al-Khaaliq co-produced Drake's "Over" with Boi-1da. Furthermore, this reader mentioned—via comment to this post—that the hook section was entirely played out by Al-Khaaliq. As is the case with many beats, some things that one thinks are sampled are indeed played out in the traditional sense; likewise, some things that one thinks were played out in the traditional sense are in fact samples. On Drake's "Over," it is clear that certain elements of the hook section were played out; however, I'm not yet convinced that "everything" in the hook section was played out in the traditional sense.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

For educational purposes

Drake - "Over;" beat by Boi-1da


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