Drake vs. Lil Wayne at The Woodlands, 9/27/2014
Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Drake vs. Lil Wayne Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion September 27, 2014
"He flew across the stage on the stripper pole?"
And so the summer of 2014 concluded with two best friends forever trading insults about themselves and the quirks that make them who they are. It's been a summer of awkward dances around one another, Jay Z & Beyonce probably being chief among them. Watching Drake and Lil Wayne banter back and forth in between their colossal combined set lists felt almost as if it had zero edge to it, despite the tour's billing as a summer-long battle between the two superstars.
Drake vs. Lil Wayne had crisscrossed between various U.S. cities for weeks and Houston, fittingly if you're Drake, was the last stop. Also fitting? The date happened to be Lil Wayne's 32nd birthday. Never mind the fact that Wayne seemed like he was 27 for three years straight at one point, it allowed both men to be even more freewheeling when trading insults.
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It also allowed for another argument: which Drake show is better? In June, the Toronto rapper and V-Live enthusiast (vintage steakhouse!) performed at Warehouse Live for a crowd of maybe 1,000 for nearly two and a half hours. Last November he was in Toyota Center, belting out Nothing Was the Same records albeit without the same kind of personal flair at Warehouse.
I guess another summer of doing large venues has done Drizzy good.
During Wayne's performance of his verse from Chris Brown's summer smash "Loyal," Drake stood in front of Wayne and began dancing. Pop-locking. Doing probably the best impersonation of Chris Brown without being Chris Brown we've ever seen. "I should have did that shit with Rihanna, maybe we would have lasted!", Drake quipped to oohs from the crowd.
Petty Drake is the best Drake.
Taking cues from Capcom's epic fighting game Street Fighter, various onscreen images the two Young Money rap titans in karate garb. Neither one decided that was worth it and opted for far more traditional wear onstage. Wayne -- for much of the night and seemingly every year at The Woodlands -- was shirtless with tube socks all the way up his shorts and Chuck Taylors. Drake seemed far more crisp in Supreme sweatshirts, OVO T-shirts and jeans.
Even if they acted like they were battling back and forth, there wasn't really a point after bombing fans with hit track after hit track for the better part of two hours. Lil Wayne led off with "Blunt Blowin'" and "John" from Tha Carter IV, which prompted Drake to swing back with "Draft Day" and "We Made It." The crowd roars didn't differ much from any other time Drake or Wayne have taken the stage. You could have had them standing in front of 20,000 people at Cynthia Woods and people would have been screaming their heads off regardless.
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Format, for two guys responsible for at least 70 percent of the radio singles in rotation at the moment, was a must, so both once more reached into their bag of tricks for features and hooks. Even as Wayne remarked that "his hits become history," every Wayne record before 2003's "Go D.J." from Tha Carter wasn't touched. Imagine Wayne revisiting old Cash Money classics like "Tha Block Is Hot" or his appearances on Hot Boyz records like "Project Chick" or "I Need a Hot Girl."
As often as they riffed on one another -- Drake even once throwing on a wig to become Lil Drake -- they continually showed love at every turn. The girl portion of the night moved from "Marvin's Room" to co-serenading ladies with "Hold On, We're Going Home" to Wayne's multitude of female-geared tracks from "How to Love" to "Lollipop" and ended it in true Wayne fashion by wanting to fuck every girl in the world.
Without Wayne (and Jas Prince), Drake wouldn't be standing on the Cynthia Woods stage as he professed passionately through a sea of confetti at show close. Both Wayne and Drake concluded that next year, they're doing this all over again in promotion of their respective upcoming solo albums. And Houston's the first stop.
Just don't try singing songs together next time, please.
Personal Bias: Lil Wayne is the world's most inescapable rapper. But even I feel a new Drake record feels like an "event" now compared to Wayne.
The Crowd: Heels and gold aplenty.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Hurry up bitch!" -- one poor girl power-walking her ass off, leaving her group of friends behind just to get inside the venue.
Random Notebook Dump: You know the somewhat tired phrase, "There's a first time for everything?" Saturday was one of those. Somehow our tickets ended up not at the main box office but a security tent near the tour buses in the back. How long did it take me to finally get inside the overflowing venue? An hour. Did I mind when all was said and done? Not at all.
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