Photo Credit: Haleema Khan for The Source Magazine/TheSource.com
Epic is an understatement
Monday night (August 4th) Drake closed out his annual show, OVO Fest at The Molson Center in Toronto, ON. The concert which is in it’s 5th year was a two day event, with hip hop legends Outkast headlining Sunday’s show. Bringing arguably the greatest group in the history of rap music to the festival the night before was sure to put a little pressure on one Aubrey Drake Graham, but simply put the man rose to the occasion.
Besides an earlier set by the beautiful Jhene’ Aiko, the show itself played like one big showcase of Drake’s career so far, with people who have crossed his path and collaborated with, as well as some who helped inspire him to become the artist/person that he is today. With the standard he set last year bringing out Kanye West & numerous others it seemed hard to fathom the surprises guests could live up to the hype. They did; Lauryn Hill, J.Cole, Trey Songz, Usher, PARTYNEXTDOOR, YG, Majid Jordan, OB OBrien, Tinashe, DJ Khaled, 50 Cent & Lloyd Banks each popped up and performed to the crowds delight.
From a fan point of view it was quite the spectacle. The production value of the show was not that of a typical “festival” stage, instead something far more elaborate and on par with the standard Drake set from recent tours, especially last years ‘Would You Like A Tour’. Take a look at the pictures in the photo gallery above.What made this years performance so special was the concise linear narrative drake put together for the audience. He first surprisingly popped up at the end of Lauryn Hills fast paced set, transitioning from hills “doo wop (that thing)” to into his 2014 record “draft day” a song which samples “doo wop”. This would not be the last time a ridiculously cool drake/rap nerd moment occurred. After admonishing Hill for all that she’s accomplished and what she meant to aubrey himself (a constant theme of the night ) it was Drizzy time. “We made it” rang out from the speakers, and yea it rang out , CRAZY like. As soon as the song finshed it was time for our narrator to properly set the tone of the night.Drake genuinely & passionately explained that much like OVO fest has grown in the past 5 years, so has he. Last year may have been about big surprise guests and moments, but this years show was truly that , a show, a “Cirque Du SoDrake” as Noisey’s Slava P dubbed it.
After bringing out his mother for an awkward but really endearing moment it was “time to go”
Drake made it clear this was not the typical show and that he would be doing records that he hopes the fans want but that he know he doesn’t usually get to perform.
First up was “Unstoppable”, Drakes high energy So Far Gone track based off the Lykie Lie song of the same name. One strange note is how easily and how amazing it would have been for Drake to bring out Bun B (who came out the night before during Outkast’s set) to perform their track “uptown” from SFG.
The next OVmOment came when Drake brought out a man he described as the first mainstream artist to embrace him, Trey Songz. At this point the cool but subtle ambient lightning drake had been crooning in front of changed to an in your face giant red screen wall that set an incredible backdrop for the two to perform their defining track “successful”. Trey stayed to perform “Nana” , the crowd ate it up.
The show continued and Drake didn’t miss a beat. Every time he stopped to talk to the crowd you could feel the anticipation build with wonderment. Who was coming next? We had our answer soon, his “light skin twin brother “J.Cole hit the stage to perform “Can’t get enough” & “Power trip”. Afterward the two shared a moment on stage, like usual singing the others praises. Most interesting was Drake going out of his way to clarify that “Kendrick Lamar is one of the kings in this game” going on to say that sometimes things are often made out of nothing “that’s one of the hardest n—-s alive. He should be standing right [here].”
Over the course of the night Drake brought out numerous guests including YG for their smash song “Who do you love”. I joked to a friend that his verse cost him $100k, he better rap his heart out on it.He did.
Drake spoke of the time he got a bit carried away leaving Toronto and living in Miami for a minute saying one guy made sure his life down there was crazy; DJ Khaled came out to super hype man Drake for their monster collabos “I’m on one” & “No New Friends”. Khaled’s timing of when to insert the same ad-libs heard on record was truly remarkable
The only unfortunate part of Drake having established such a reputation for brining out surprise guests at OVO Fest is that when he performed a song and didn’t bring out the featured artist (ie The Weeknd on “Crew Love” Nicki Minaj on “Up all night” or Lil Wayne on a number of tracks) you couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit disappointed. But hey there’s always next year.
What big names he missed , Drake definitely tried to make up for by having the transitions in between and within songs at a level rarely if ever seen at a concert.
He brought out Tinashe to perform her single “2 On” which then transitioned into his and OVO mascot and hometown favorite OB Obrien’s “2 on/Thotful” freestyle. To our knowledge this was Obriens first Toronto performance and only his second overall aside from Houston Appreciation Week, all that said he did fairly well. The very existence and non wakness of the red bearded resident comedian of OVO in itself is a testament to Drake’s Midas touch.
There were three different times when the Drake show became someone else’s show. The first time was in many ways the moment a good deal- especially those from Toronto- had been waiting for- The OVO Fest debut of PARTYNEXTDOOR. With fiesta’s newest project PARTYNEXTDOOR 2 having just dropped less than a week prior (7/29) the stage was set. His intro couldn’t have been better with Drake turning his “Days In The East” track into Party’s song “West district” that was inspired by it.
It should be stated that during this portion the stage was adorned with a red backdrop and a large number “6” as seen in our photos. Also seen during this segment was an image of Rihanna and the numbers “666”. Subtle right.
Anyway back to party. It was definitely a site to see, a real coming of age moment. PND rocked out for a hot minute performing “Persian rugs” “Break From Toronto” and the soon to be smash “FWU” – the crowd singing along to the incredibly infectious chorus was special. He closed out the party with his Drake collaboration “Recognize”. Drake, pride obviously showing, congratulated his progeny and ushered him out as “The prince of OVO & the future of this city ”
At one point Usher came out and basically turned it into the Usher show performing “Climax”, “Confessions” & more. He probably talked a little too much and seemed a bit too cool, but hey the guys a legend, give him a break. O yea he spun his chain around his neck at one point, seriously. Drake also announced he will be on Usher’s next album.
By FAR, the biggest response of the night came when 50 Cent & Lloyd Banks hit the stage. “Whatup Gangsta” came on, and people lost,their,shit! The fervor continued during “Beamer benz or bentley” as well as “In The Club”, a song 50 surprisingly didn’t perform at Hot 97’s Summer Jam. Trey Songz re-emerged, looking like he may have gotten a tattoo backstage in between sets, to perform his track from 50’s new album Animal Ambition, “Smoke”. Drake eventually came back out to show love and close out the show.
Last up was his new track from Lil Wayne’s upcoming Tha Carter V, “Believe Me”, Just after finishing he announced to the crowd that they were out of time , but theres no way it could end with out doing “one song”. Everyone in the entire venue knew what one song he could be referring to, “0-100”. Put in perspective that when Drake joined Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne at the aforementioned Hot 97 Summer Jam, this song literally premiered online, while the actual show was going on; 2 months later he’s closing out shows to it.
One last thing Drake did was use the crowd of 20k + make noise specifically for the purpose of showing Kevin Durant (who was in attendance) how much fans of Toronto Raptors Basketball wanted him there. Smart business man.
Drake is something special, this show hammered that point home, emphatically.
Here’s when G-Unit came out (warning audio is a little funky)
HERE is someone who has the entire show in order on youtube
Also check out some clips of the performance from The Source’s Instagram page
Spencer is still gassed, follow him on Twitter- @sjeezs