Drake was pissed.
He never said it, because of course he wouldn’t. But when The Boy took the stage at his secret House Of Blues show in New Orleans last night, he attacked the stage with an evident chip on his shoulder. If you expected Drake to grab the mic and go on a Yeezy-esque rant about Rolling Stone or Fabolous or bubble baths, then you’re mistaken on how he functions. He treated his anger like he treats every feud: by orbiting the controversy without ever directly touching it.
This week, Drake got a taste of what it was like to be in the top echelon of fame, and it’s safe to say he didn’t like it. All it took was an off-the-record comment or two hitting the public eye and his carefully constructed personality showed all the cracks of a worn down abandoned warehouse. Drake handled the situation horribly, appearing like a crybaby and a guy who insulted a recently-deceased acting legend. It was a disaster.
This, though. This was what he needed. An “intimate” – or as intimate of someone of Drake’s celebrity will ever have – show. Just Drake, his DJ, some guests and a sh*t load of lights. This wasn’t Barclay’s or Madison Square Garden. This was the House Of Blues, packed to capacity with genuine fans. The only thing separating fans from people like LeBron James was a few inches of rope. The lesser celebrities (see: just about everyone), had to fight for space with us regular people for the best view. But everyone was rapping along as loud as possible.
Because this was as much a Hip-Hop show as any you’ll ever come across.
I saw Drake perform in 2010 and I hated it. He was in full simp mode, executing a 15-minute power ballad portion complete with bringing a woman on stage, giving her roses and rubbing her feet (I don’t actually think he rubbed her feet, but in my mind he might as well have). The show just seemed less like the pandering, over-acting version of Drake that he gets so criticized for.
That Drake didn’t show up last night. Last night, he rapped his ass off. “Marvin’s Room” got a quick intro and he did “Just Hold On We’re Going Home” to a bounce beat for a few seconds, but it was obvious he wasn’t interested in being the Champagne Papi. He wanted to deliver “Worst Behavior” while jumping up and down on the stage. He wanted to tear through “Versace” like he was in a cypher. And he wanted to scream his lyrics to “Pop That” like he’s laying down the vocals for the first time. Sure, 2 Chainz, French Montana and especially Lil Wayne showed up and upped the energy to astronomical levels, but this was Drake’s show. The roof was coming off the House before any guest hit the stage.
At his heart, Drake is a backpacker, who seemed more comfortable spitting his bars in front of rabid fans than he is as Drake the ladies’ man. It’s probably been half-a-decade — five years since So Far Gone dropped — since Drake’s been in front of a crowd of hundreds of passionate fans. And he was right at home. This seemed more like Comeback Season Drake’s dream than any big stadium show he’s performed. He reveled in the energy, away from any questions about Kanye, Rolling Stone or Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He was just a guy with a mic, rolling out hit after hit. And it was one of the best rap shows I’ve ever seen.
Here’s the thing that’s underrated about Drake: he’s got more hits than probably any vocal artist ever after just three albums. Any genre. He powered through an hour-and-a-half set and didn’t perform a single song all the way through. Nearly every song was a radio hit. The only other artist I’ve seen do something like that was Busta Rhymes in 2009, and he’d had a 15-year career by that point. It’s incredible.
The story arc of the show would have been a cliche in one of those coming-of-age movies: guy reaches fame, loses touch, and goes back to his roots to get his groove back and remember why he ventured into this arena of fame in the first place. It happened to Rocky Balboa. It happened to Daniel Larusso. And it’s happening to Drake. This was the show he needed. This was the show he’s always wanted. And he knocked it out of the park.
Important Note: Da Real Lambo was in attendance. He was wearing Illuminati chic and I’m not going to lie: watching him be a famous person is one of the most hilarious things ever. He had tons of jewelry and was rapping along about haters because of course he was. I’d have paid hundreds of bucks to see that Drake show again, but I would have cleared out my savings to watch Lambo watch Drake shows for the rest of my life.
Also: Shout out to Kaz and the folks at Sprite for letting me know about the event and saving a spot for me. Greatly appreciated.
Images: Kaz IG