Drake Gets Plenty Of Love From His Unofficial Hometown
Photos by Marco Torres
8:11 p.m.: Aftermath ends up having to park three floors down in the underground Bayou Place parking lot. We elect to take the stairs up to the street. We do this in part because it seems really lazy to take an elevator up three floors, but mostly because underground parking garages always feel like the perfect place to get murdered. Add to that the fact that we have a really irrational fear of Michael Myers standing there when the elevator doors open, and getting in an elevator while in an underground parking garage is paramount to sprinting head first into oncoming traffic. This has nothing to do with Drake. Sorry. 8:23: Drake has become THE marquee guy from that new wave of rappers that came exploding onto the scene a ways back (i.e. Wale, Kid Cudi, J. Cole, etc.), which automatically makes him more susceptible to criticism and unfounded dislike. We too were guilty of a presumptuous "That guy has to be a total dick; I mean, just look at him" charge. Curious to see how he moves in real life. 8:24: DJ Brandi Garcia is here DJing before the show kicks off. She announces, "I'm gonna bring out my good friend," then Trae comes rumbling out. This is the second time in the past few weeks we've seen Garcia co-sign for him; remarkable considering the Trae vs. The Box thing is still a hot talking point. Good for her. Or bad for her. Who knows anymore?
Trae is doing that "Still Gets No Love" track. (The one that's an upset, angry flip of "Piece Of My Love" by Guy.) There's just something great about a room half-full with white people singing, "...Get mad if you want to, kiss my black ass." 8:40: It's pretty much a given that when you see Trae at a show, he and his people will be holding handfuls of stuff that they'll be handing out for free; lately it's been those bobbleheads of himself. Tonight, in addition to the bobbleheads, he's apparently giving away a pair of "swangers," which are some very fancy, very expensive, very thuggish rims for a car. They cost in the four-digit range. A white girl gets pulled up out of the crowd as the winner. Her name is Molly. Tomorrow, there will be a white woman named Molly driving around Houston on swangers. Lovely. 8:59: When you're alone, that song "All The Way Turn't Up" sounds like it was written by a retard. When you're in a room full of people though and it's being played very loudly, it sounds like it was written by a genius. 9:18: Show is getting ready to start. Our concert cohort - the group of people standing around us - looks to be a solid mix. It's Weird Lonely Puffy Hair Guy, Thug Mexican And His Chunky Girlfriend, Tall Grumpy Black Woman Who Might Be About Ten Years Too Old To Be Here, Two Stoner Girls In Knit Hats and Skinny Girl Who Knows Half Of The Words To All The Rap Songs But Sings Them Like She Knows All The Words. Very nice. 9:20: Guess which member of our cohort brought an extra pair of shoes for when her feet started to hurt? Yep. That'd be Tall Grumpy Black Woman. 9:24: And we're off. Drake blasts out. The place erupts. He starts off with "Forever." Nice opener. Prop bet odds for the show tonight:
- Drake hat-tips a deceased Houston rapper more than twice: 4 to 7
- "Mo City Don Freestyle" gets played: 10 to 3
- Bun B makes an appearance: Do the odds even matter here? Are you seriously going to bet against this? It could be a bajillion to one. Whatever. Don't bet against.
- He ends the show with "Over": 8 to 3
9:25: Oh snap. There's a guy playing a keytar on stage.
9:37: Drake is really driving home the "Houston is my unofficial home" bit pretty hard. He seems pretty earnest about it. So much so, in fact, that he's wearing a belt with a big letter H on it. That's not a joke. 9:40: During an a cappella that touches a bit on his come-up, Drake drops this at the tail end: "I avoided the coke game and went with Sprite instead." It takes at least a full second before the collective "OOHHHH!" erupts out when people realize he's referencing both drugs and the drink when he says "coke," and paralleling it with the commercial that he did for Sprite. Great moment. We love The Collective OOHHHH!. When it happens, it's one of the highlights of a rap show. 9:40:02: By the way, not to be a dick or anything, because we really did enjoy that line, but we'd just like to point out that Sprite is a brand owned by Coca-Cola. 9:46: Drake just put on a Rap-A-Lot chain. We think J. Prince Jr. is near the front of the stage and handed it to him, but we're not certain of that. He's about to get into his Houston set, no doubt. 9:48: Boom. Called it. The opening wail of "Mo City Don Free - OH SHIT! Z-Ro is onstage. The place is bonkers. We don't know what to do. 9:48:15: Of course Z-Ro is wearing a black shirt with big white letters that reads, "I HATE YOU BITCH" on it. He must've just come from church. 9:52: 'Ro does just about all of "Mo City Don Freestyle." Girl Who Knows Half Of The Words To All The Rap Songs But Sings Them Like She Knows All The Words plays her role perfectly. 9:55: He's doing "Uptown," which means.... 9:55:45: Boom. Two for two. Bun is on stage now. And his right arm is in a sling from when he got shoved off an overcrowded stage at a show during that Gumball race thing. He looks like a little kid with that thing on. Someone needs to make him some chicken noodle soup and tell him to go lie down in bed. Fuckin' Bun is the best. 9:55: Crikey. Drake lets loose "November 18," his own personal ode to DJ Screw and the SUC, and Keke comes bouncy out. The crowd is all over the place right now. The last eight minutes have been super strong. Well done, Wheelchair Jimmy. 10:09: Drake starts talking about how he needs a girl to go up on stage with him. Eventually, "Keisha" is plucked from the crowd. He dances a bit with her, does he best "I'm Sexy" act, then kisses on her a bit and a whole bunch the women in here lose their shit. The best part: After he kisses on her, he asks, "How old are you, first of all?" That's not how "first of all" works, Drake. 10:23: Not nearly as cool as you'd expect it would be: A keytar solo. Drake built it up a bit like he thought it was. Maybe that kind of thing is hot in Toronto? 10:25: He touches on "Successful," Timbaland's "Say Something" and Trey Songz' "I Invented Sex." How the hell is it that Drake performs "I Invented Sex" better than Trey Songz? Songz remain to be the worst live show we have seen this year. 10:31: Haha. Drake is talking about Houston women. First he asks if a Houston woman would be bad for him. Then he asks if a Houston woman would be good for him. Now, everyone should know that he's about to perform "Best I Ever Had" right now. It's the biggest song he's ever had, he's yet to do it and the night is almost over. So this has to be a segue, which means there'll be a third option where he'll say something like, "...or will a Houston woman be the best I ever had." That's when everyone should yell. Only the ladies are so geeked right now that they go yo-yo after he asks if a Houston woman would be good for him. Dorks. Add "The Premature Yell" to the list of things you hope happen at a concert. That mess is funny. 10:37: He's doing the thing where they turn on all the house lights and he points out people in the crowd individually. Jay-Z was the best we've ever seen do this, but Drake is good in his own right. He's pretty charming. He's talking about which girl is coming home with him. He points to an Asian girl and says, "Who's coming home with me? Asian girl, is it you?" Haha. He continues on around the room and throws out a few more gems. He aims at someone in the back of the room and says, "I see you in the back, sitting down, semi-enjoying the show but that's okay." He points out a girl on someone's shoulders and says, "I see you. What is that, beer? You're up on his shoulders drinking a beer like you're at a Yankees game? That's the least glamorous shit ever." He owns the room right now. 10:38: He starts talking about how the people talking to him in his ear are telling him it's time to get off stage. Time for... 10:39: Bam! "Over." This was the best possible song for him to pick to end the show. When it's finished, he drops to his knees on stage, the lights go black, then he gives a speech where he says (we're paraphrasing a bit): "My name is Aubrey Graham. I'm a 22-year-old kid. I played a character named Wheelchair Jimmy on a TV show called Degrassi. And I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for you all." It's a very good, very humanizing 30 seconds, more revealing than any of the posturing he's done up until now. Sweet kid. Tall Grumpy Black Lady's summation of the night: "That was a good-ass show."
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