OVO FEST with DRAKE, CHRIS BROWN, CARDI B, OFFSET, MEEK MILL, RICK ROSS, MEGAN THEE STALLION, GUCCI MANE, TYGA, YG, POPCAAN, DABABY and LIL BABY at Budweiser Stage, Monday, August 5. Rating: NNN
Drake’s star-studded acknowledgment to hometown admirers has been a basic of the summer concert division for nine out of the accomplished 10 years. A lot has afflicted in that time – onstage and off – but some things are the same.
The Toronto rapper continues to be a steamrolling success, on his way to his ninth number-one anthology on the Billboard anthology blueprint in the U.S. acknowledgment to Care Package, a new accumulating of singles and loosies that includes some of his best R&B-oriented and self-reflective material. That anthology alone briefly ample into a actualization that alloyed hits old and new and was added about adulatory the Raptors and putting to blow a scattering of beforehand media beefs.
After demography a one-year break, OVO Fest alternate for two nights: night one on Sunday featured aboriginal aughts acts from the Millennium Tour, including Ying Yang Twins, Mario and B2K, but night two was the hottest ticket. Drake account “solo” but brings out a cycle alarm of abruptness guests. What’s abundant about the anniversary behindhand of the bedfellow account is that, clashing best big concerts, it’s unpredictable. Admitting the actualization has acclimatized into its own arrangement over the years – and if you are adroit on amusing media you can adumbrate a few of the surprises – its wild-card spirit is attenuate in an age of pre-determined set lists and creates an electric atmosphere.
The addition was all about the Toronto Raptors’ championship win: afterwards a montage, the curtains beggared to acknowledge a giant, bright gold replica of the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy. Of course, Drake – dressed in a best Percy “Master P” Miller Raptors jersey – was captivation the absolute trophy, which he placed centre date for the butt of the two-hour-plus show. Afterwards aperture with Trophies, he went beeline into accepted radio hit Mob Ties and afresh Yes Indeed, a collab with the night’s aboriginal guest: ascent Atlanta MC Lil Baby.
The newcomers who Drake has accustomed a arresting addition usually arise aboriginal at OVO Fest, admitting BlocBoy JB was a no-show for a pyro-heavy arrangement of Attending Alive. Added pyro accentuated big exhausted drops throughout a assortment of hits – including Over, Headlines, HYFR and Activity – afore the aboriginal brilliant of the evening: Gucci Mane, who performed in Canada for the aboriginal time beforehand this summer.
The Canadian bound is awfully difficult to cantankerous for musicians with rap sheets, but Gucci afresh anchored a acting citizen permit. At OVO Fest, he breezed through two songs, including his Drake collab Both with its clear-sighted line, “I got so abounding felonies I ability can’t never go to Canada / But Drake said he gon’ cull some strings so let me analysis my calendar.”
Drake dialed aback the activity for the acutely abrupt slow-jam allocation of the evening. As in accomplished years, this involves Drake deeply clutching a mic stand, his eyes shut tightly. He beatific his signature nasal carol up a key for Care Package cuts Dreams Money Can Buy and Girls Love Beyoncé but the results, admitting heartfelt, were dicey. Drake hasn’t formed abundant on the activating ambit of his alive singing, but he articulate on-point back he aloof leaned into his archetypal nasal commitment and sang the hooks for his bangers.
To his credit, he did the Care Package absolute afterwards the aid of advance articulate tracks. The rappers on the OVO Fest date generally relied on them to adviser them through the cutting sub-bass that tends to obliterate any dash in the productions, and a few went a cappella.
Tyga, one of the smoothest-sounding rappers of the night, was the alone abruptness bedfellow to about-face up the arrangements. During his two-song aperture he brought out a five-piece Mariachi bandage and adolescent Compton rapper YG to accomplish amative club jam Go Loko. The band’s attendance was alone agilely heard but they at atomic provided a beheld aberration from eye-roll lyrics like “Call me for dick, not Geico.”
A few added Drake hits segued into an actualization by OVO Sound artisan Popcaan on Controlla. It was the abandoned song in the set to advertence Drake’s global-pop aeon from two years ago.
It’s attenuate for OVO Fest to accept added than one changeable bedfellow – the aftermost time there were two was Lauryn Hill and Tinashe in 2014 – but Drake fabricated up for that this year. “As a action to actualization how abundant I acknowledge women as a whole,” Drake said, “I’m gonna stop offstage and leave you with some of the finest women you’ve apparent in your life.”
Enter Megan Thee Stallion, the Houston MC benumbed a beachcomber of viral fizz afterwards bogus the appellation Hot Girl Summer in the lead-up to her Fever mixtape. She said little, but twerked a lot through a two-song set. Her attendance and freewheeling ball moves switched up the activity and provided much-needed counterpoint to the advised blowing posturing.
The abutting bedfellow was conceivably the best received: Philly rapper Meek Mill, who abundantly beefed with Drake in 2015, arch to a meme montage at OVO Fest that year. Mill has become an activist for bent amends ameliorate in the U.S. and afresh had an 11-year-old confidence chaotic in a biologic and gun case that landed him on acquittal for the afterwards decade. Afterwards assuming his Drake collab Activity Bad, he hit the army with bent flows in a boastful arrangement of Uptown Vibes – conceivably the alone moment of the night back beeline agreeable blaze aerated the army into a frenzy. It apparently didn’t aching that the tech lath gave him the abounding rock-star analysis of agrarian lasers and strobes, but he was the night’s best absorbing rapper.
Mill afresh brought his labelmate and OVO Fest adept Rick Ross, who abutting him on Ima Boss afore arch the army in a rap-along arrangement of his archetypal hit B.M.F. Ross has an effortless, comfortable breeze and captivated the army with an intricate a cappella, but he seemed like he could’ve acclimated an in-ear adviser afterwards activity camp during the alive admission of his contempo Drake collab Money In The Grave.
Everyone’s favourite Bernie Bro Cardi B was up next. She had aloof accent Veld anniversary beforehand in the weekend, so her actualization at OVO Fest seemed like a safe bet. As with Megan Thee Stallion, Drake abolished from actualization as a assurance of account and she took abounding advantage, bent out onstage, demography off her shoes, bonds about and accomplishing a bit of banter. “Heeyyyyyy Canaaaaadiaaaanssss!” she said with a big grin.
Her abetment articulate advance generally threatened to asphyxiate her out – she dispensed with them alone on Bodak Yellow – but again, her infectious, airy activity and ad-lib badinage was article the actualization could use added of. She had the longest set of all the guests, accomplishing her ballad to G-Eazy’s No Limit and capping it off by bringing out her husband, Offset, to do Clout.
The final bedfellow of the night was Chris Brown, the pop brilliant whose able career was alone afterwards he pled accusable to assaulting his above adherent Rihanna in 2009. His accomplished decade has been abounding with acknowledged allegations, affronted responses to critics, misogynistic and marginalizing language, lawsuits – he’s in the bosom of a civilian clothing brought by a woman who says she was sexually assaulted at his home by addition man in 2017 – but he’s aloof becoming his third number-one anthology Billboard admission and is in the bosom of an amphitheatre bout that is affairs well.
His ambiguous cachet did not anticipate a admiring accession at OVO Fest. I’m abiding anybody is ailing of talking and account about his acknowledged issues – admirers and critics akin – but the gig apparent his aboriginal bounded actualization in about a decade back a 2015 concert was annulled afterwards he was denied access into Canada. His contempo success has been bolstered by the Drake collab No Guidance, a boilerplate R&B distinct that he opened with.
The brace accept abundantly beefed, so Drake’s accommodation to assignment with him could be apparent as a absolute footfall for two men alive accomplished differences. But it has additionally affected some admirers to attending added carefully at Drake’s own clue almanac with women, ambiguous able accessories and a alloyed clue almanac back it comes to characterizations of women in his music. Personally, I’m not adjoin men who’ve done amiss actuality able to redeem themselves, but it’s arresting that the ball industry continues to accept such a low bar for re-entry.
The account of artists who accept formed with Brown over the years is as assorted as Brandy, Andre 3000, Marshmello and Joe Jonas. So Drake is absolutely backward to the party. But Brown’s actualization as the final bedfellow at OVO Fest acquainted like yet addition afflictive archetype of able men accommodating to besom accomplished adamantine and all-important conversations about accountability because an artisan sells well. If it didn’t feel aberrant that alone two women performed at this year’s OVO Fest, conceivably his admittance wouldn’t be a big deal. So abounding women artists do not get the aforementioned akin of business and banking abutment as a characterless aerialist decumbent to adolescent tantrums.
Though Brown’s music of backward is appealing thirsty, his date vibe is hungry. Flanked by four back dancers, he did archetypal MJ-inspired pop-and-lock robo moves but it didn’t feel absolutely natural. Rather than amount out a ambit of motion that apparel him, he recreates a archetypal appearance afterwards abacus a claimed blow and the aftereffect is unwieldy. He was one of the few artists not to use abetment articulate tracks, bottomward runs and ad-libs, his two-octave tenor bedfast by an aftereffect that articulate as automatic as his ball moves looked.
In today’s pop landscape, it’s attenuate to see a pop brilliant as big as Brown sing alive and ball so fervently, but is additionally conjugal to a formula. You ability alike say he hides abaft it. But that shouldn’t be hasty accustomed the abridgement of ambit in his abbreviate set list, which concluded with astern 2014 radio hit Loyal that had the army singing forth to the simplistic chorus, “These hoes ain’t loyal.”
Thankfully, that wasn’t the night’s departing sentiment. As he usually does, Drake accomplished the actualization with a advance of hits – Sicko Mode, Nonstop and God’s Plan – but concluded afore the 11 pm alarm to address his backward acquaintance Mark Krispy with a 10-minute firework affectation over Lake Ontario. It was a apricot end to an eventful, energetic, asperous ninth OVO Fest.
@nowtoronto | @KevinRitchie
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