By Shannon Carlin
Drake doesn’t take his fans for granted, that’s for damn sure. From the moment he stepped out on his futuristic stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night (October 28), Drake was doing all that he possibly could to make sure every single person in that crowd had the time of his or her life. Certainly not an easy task, but one Drake was more than willing to attempt.
The Canadian rapper might not have the mic skills of say, Kendrick Lamar or the artistic vision of Kanye West, but for what he lacks in those departments he more than makes up for in showmanship. Perhaps this harkens back to his Degrassi days, which he told the crowd was the bottom where he actually started from.
Drake’s setlist is for those who have a bit of ADD. He tends to switch songs after only one verse, picking out, what can only be imagined are his favorite bits. And from the looks of the crowd last night, they are their favorites too.
This franticness works to his advantage and on this particular night he was able to churn out over 30 songs including Nothing Was the Same tracks “Too Much,” “Worst Behaviour,” and “Furthest Thing,” along with some older hits like “Crew Love” and “HYFR” off of Take Care. He relegated pre-Take Care tracks to a short DJ set that got the crowd pumped even though Drake was not even performing the tracks himself. Yes, we were just listening to them over the loudspeaker, something we all could have done in the comfort of our own homes.
Teasing the songs also helped to keep things moving. You don’t want to hear all six minutes of the Nothing Was The Same opening track “Tuscan Leather”? Don’t worry, he’ll split it up for you into two halves to make it a little more digestible.
In honor of his birthday, which was only three days prior to the Barclays show, Drake decided to treat the night like it was his official birthday party with cameos from friends like Busta Rhymes doing his “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” and Jhene Aiko, who recreated her spot on “From Time.”
Future also came out to pal around with Drake putting to rest all those rumors that the Atlanta rapper was kicked off the tour. The two hugged it out, called out those who thought they weren’t friends anymore and performed “Same Damn Time,” as in yes, we are onstage at the same damn time and look how happy we are.
A$AP Ferg came out for “Work” and “Shabba,” and was then joined by the rest of the A$AP Mob, including A$AP Rocky who stuck around to perform “F***** Problems.” One of Drake’s best performances of the night, though he did look a little shabby in comparison to Rocky who was rocking a very fancy camel coat. Designer, we’re sure.
But even with all the guest stars that took the stage, Drake was the star. No one overshadowed him, the rapper instead let them have their moment as he danced supportively in the background. Even his band and DJ, Future the Prince, were relegated to a spot inside his oval shaped stage where they could be heard and not really seen.
Future the Prince did get a chance to really shine when he teased a minute of a new song called “Trophies,” letting the crowd know he might get in trouble for playing it. Though could anyone ever really imagine Drizzy getting mad?
But even though Drake was the star, the fans were the real guest of honor, with the rapper using every spare moment to share his love with the crowd. This included a 10-minute love session where Drake floated above the crowd in a suspended stage that allowed him to shout out random people in the crowd. He pointed out fans wearing OVO gear. He hit on a girl wearing a skintight green dress in the upper level who seemed to melt after Drake told her she had the nicest legs he’d seen in New York. Whether he was talking to you or not, you couldn’t help but be excited by the fact that he even noticed you up in the nosebleeds.
While some of the show got a little cheesy — pulling a girl on stage to serenade her with a stripped down version of “Hold On, We’re Going Home” while complimenting her really great “lower half,” comes to mind — he comes off as a genuine guy. Someone who understands that once you get to the top, it’s really easy to fall off. So he’ll work hard to stay where he is, and like he so often does in his music, he’ll give credit where credit is due. And when it comes to how Aubrey Drake Graham got here, it’s those devoted fans sitting way up in the nosebleeds that made him bigger than Trey Songz.