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Drake & Co. Shut Down Toronto With 2013 OVO Fest

What followed these quick guest slots, though, was so grandiose… so epic, that the only way to properly give an explanation of the events is in bullet-point format (below), for the sake of not ranting for pages upon pages. Before that, though, it should be noted that sprinkled throughout the insane number of guest appearances, was Drake delivering some of his most popular songs—he has so many—and reminding the crowd of the unique balance of earnestness and cockiness in his artistic statement.

When he’s onstage alone, Drake is all bravado, all the time. While not exactly a hyper-masculine presence like his rap (and some of his R&B) peers, he’s more of a one-man Rat Pack, equipped with enough confidence, charisma and most importantly, a strong back catalogue, to properly possess the stage for as long as he wants. His creative maturation helps, too.

From hits from his So Far Gone days to his latest vulnerability-celebrating songs like “Girls Love Beyonce” and “The Motion,” Drake has found ways to keep a clear through-line in his worldview while finding new ways to express it. What’s more, he truly walks the line between being a heartthrob and “one of the boys,” attracting both men and women to swoon throughout the night. He could’ve done Jay Z and JT’s Legends Of The Summer Tour all on his own.

Regardless, the remainder of Drake’s 2013 OVO Fest saw:

– French Montana emerging and performing club killers “Ain’t Worried About Nothin'” and “Pop That.”
– Drake inviting TLC (seriously) onstage for updated renditions of classics like “Waterfalls” and “Scrubs.”
– Born Sinner J. Cole running through choice cuts from his catalogue like “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Power Trip” (alongside Miguel, who was also there) and “Forbidden Fruit” to a rabid crowd.
– Bad Boy icon Diddy introducing a two-track glorious set from Ma$e, including a nostalgia trip to the days of “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
– Former Drake protege and rising star A$AP Rocky playing hits like “Fuckin’ Problems” and “Wild For The Night” to flocks of excited teen girls.
– Drake mimicking Kanye West’s “Diamonds” verse, but remixing it to say “What’s up with you and ‘Ye, man? / Y’all okay man?” before inviting Lord Yeezus onstage for a highlight-reel performance that included renditions of “New Slaves” (with Yeezy basked in only red light), “All Of The Lights” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.”
– YMCMB chief and one of Drake’s earliest cosigners Lil Wayne blessing his former mentee with praise in front of his hometown. The duo went on to perform collaborative hits like “The Motto,” “HYFR” and “Bitches Love Me.” Before leaving the stage, Weezy would admit, “I’m happy to be a piece of this puzzle.”

At times, what was even more striking than Drake’s unfolding all-star show was his heartwarming interactions with his peers. There was a sense of likability and goodwill between him and every one of his collaborators that seemed too genuine to be faked. Of course, as he’s wont to do, he hugged each guest, and went on to say kind words (Kanye is “the reason I’m rapping,” Wale is “one of the deepest minds in this game,” “Without Lil Wayne, there would be no Drake”) about every single one of them. Assembling so much starpower couldn’t have been easy, and it seems unlikely that Drake could’ve actually made any money from OVO Fest, but when you’re presenting such an elaborate gift to your city, profits hardly matter.

So, after nearly two hours of surprise guest-after-surprise guest, the audience was visibly winded (and blunted, and drunk, and overjoyed), but Drake still wasn’t done. As OVO Fest came to a close, Toronto’s idol stood alone in the spotlight on a stage that he’d proven he deserved. Looking out into an audience of roughly 20,000, he smugly asked, “Oh, you think we’re done?” and followed that with some final pleasantries for his city, before politely asking if he could “bring it home.” Everybody was happy to play along, knowing full well that this was Drake’s friends’ show more than his own.

Still, for his final triumverate of hits, Drake spit his blistering verse off recent Migos single “Versace” and sang a hook and a verse from DJ Khaled’s anthemic “No New Friends,” before finally preparing his Canadian fans for a performance of their country’s “new national anthem” with his fire-starting single “Started From The Bottom.” Though the tune is nearly seven months old now, it sounded fresher and more grandiose than ever, and served as a perfect summation for the night. Drake started from the bottom, now he’s an icon among icons.

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