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Drake makes good on second year of OVO Fest

August 2nd, 2011

After exactly one year, the OVO Festival returned to the Molson Amphitheatre in full force, bigger, stronger, harder, and in some respects, better. With 365 days to plan and execute a follow-up to last year’s massively successful event, Drake produced a show that was on the whole as unexpected and surprising as the first OVO Fest.

One of the interesting points of Drake’s musical progression is his clear taste for dabbling in different genres. With that in mind, openers The Weeknd and Rick Ross were the perfect choices, representing two completely different sides to the Toronto native’s sound and style. The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye, in front of a crowd extremely larger than last weekend where he played his first major show, performed like a veteran in the game, calm, cool and completely swoon worthy as he ran through various tracks off House of Balloons. It was a tremendous moment for this Torontonian and if Sunday was any indication, he is certainly on his way to paving the future of R&B. He promised that his next mix tape, Thursday, is on its way, rumoured to be released this Thursday.

As for Rick Rozay? That’s perhaps the most boss man set I have ever seen and it ended all too quickly. Although Ross’ DJ worked as his hype man and did most of the talking, the fact is that his music is so monstrous and swagged out that it got the 16,000 plus crowd to bounce to songs like Everyday I’m Hustlin’, MC Hammer and B.M.F. It was intense, it was raw and it was gritty.

As Future the Prince dropped the opening bars of Dreams Money Can Buy, Drake greeted the audience with his fly boy smile, dressed in cargos and my tee (well, the OVOXO teeshirt that I bought. Totally planned to match). Unfortunately, the track was not performed in its entirety, but Drake got down to business almost instantly by jumping into his verses on Up All Night, Forever, Show Me A Good Time, and a surprising but killah performance of the dubstepp intensive Wildfire remix, not to mention his golden rendition of Marvin’s Room.

Last year’s OVO Festival was a homecoming party where Drake could celebrate his career triumphs and success in his hometown of Toronto. There were guests, but the focus of the night still remained on Drake as he ran through his wide catalogue of mixtape, album, and feature work. This year’s focus shifted from Drake himself to hip-hop and music in general, with OVO Fest serving as a platform to play homage to the moments and people who have and will be making an impact on the industry. Even his decision to perform more of his features indicated such a theme, where he ran through his verses on What’s My Name, Moment 4 Life, Say Something, Bed Rock, and Right Above It, a tribute to all those who are on this journey with Drake. A great resume of collaborations, but there were times that I couldn’t help but wish for more of Drake’s solo work. And where was Headlines!?

J.Cole joined Drake on stage for his mixtape track In The Morning, making the ladies swoon yet again. Drake then explained that he and Cole would be the faces of the future of hip hop, but such a feat wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for those in the past. Case-in-point – Mr.Nasir Jones, who walked out wearing a Blue Jays fitted and ended up spitting Made You Look and If I Ruled the World.

There are all sorts of legendary figures in music and I’m sure few could have anticipated the next guest that Drake brought. Mr. Stevie Wonder took Drizzy’s place for nearly half an hour. The soul icon performed songs like Sir Duke and Signed, Sealed, Delivered, amongst others. To some, Wonder may have been a bit of a random choice in guests, but his appearance also demonstrates Drake’s respect for the greats in music. As we reported exclusively yesterday, Wonder will be making an appearance on Take Care as well. Jumping in on his performance, Drake freestyled and teased the crowd, saying “Stevie on the keys, I wonder who’s next,” building the anticipation for an explosive finale, one which included a not too-surprising, but still insane performer.

But before that, The Weeknd appeared on stage one more time to sing Trust Issues with Drake, a surreal but incredible moment not only because of how good they sounded together, but how monumental their journeys and stories are for both their respective genres, Toronto, and our generation. Few can say that they have witnessed the greats in the making and I think we witnessed another chapter last night

AND who helped make such moments possible for Drake? Lil’ Wayne. So who came on stage when Drake disturbed the peace and jumped into Miss Me? WEEZY! To say that the crowd exploded is a bit of an understatement, but my metaphorical skills are inhibited by the jitters and excitement that I have from Sunday. I would have loved a longer Wayne-Drake set, but perhaps we’ll get that when Wayne comes to Toronto on August 19. In the meanwhile, Wayne set the stage on fire and got the crowd wylin out, performing 6 ft 7 ft, John with the Teflon Don Rick Ross himself, concluding the night with the best anthem of the summer, I’m On One.

As quickly as Wayne and Ross came, they left, leaving Drake in the spotlight once more to say his farewell until next year. But at this point in the night, it was more than clear that Drake has evolved beyond the rookie status he’s been awarded in the past few years. His charisma and stage presence is so strong, and one can find a certain confidence in his step and ferocity in every word spoken, rhyme rapped and note sung. What has influenced this, I’m not sure, but I can say that this year’s OVO Fest showed that he’s on the brink of greatness that he has yet to experience, and I think Take Care is really going to help him achieve that.

Until next year…Take Care.

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