“Cleveland . . . I’m up early on my egg whites and OJ [expletive]. So ready for tonight,” Drake tweeted shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday.
Early? Actually, this Canadian hip-hop superstar was running several months behind schedule.
He was booked for the Ohio Homecoming Concert in July at the Port of Cleveland, but his appearance was called off at the last minute because of stormy weather.
Better late than never, Drake headlined a makeup date Saturday night at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center.
He’s still a natural showman.
Drake, 25, took the stage incognito. With a bandana masking his face, he spray-painted OVOXO on a partition. One possible translation: October’s Very Own Hugs and Kisses. (October’s Very Own is another name under which Drake does business.)
“Last name ever / First name greatest,” he rapped during “Forever,” an early highlight. Clearly, modesty wasn’t an issue.
“I’ve been waiting to come to Cleveland for so [expletive] long!” he told 5,000 fans. “I only ask one favor — just show me a good [expletive] time!”
Drake released his debut, “Thank Me Later,” last year, through his mentor Lil Wayne’s Young Money record label. It was among the best-selling albums of 2010, with 1.3 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The sequel, entitled “Take Care,” comes out Tuesday. In the fickle world of pop culture, it might be the most hotly anticipated follow-up since the latest “Twilight” film.
With an easy-flowing delivery that combined nimble rapping and smooth R&B crooning, Drake juxtaposed older hits such as “Best I Ever Had,” “Over” and “Fancy” with a handful of well-received selections from the upcoming album.
Several new tunes already have come out officially as singles or unofficially via the Internet, so concertgoers had no problem following along.
The ballad “Marvins Room” made for an interesting change of pace, as Drake “drunk dialed” an ex-girlfriend and spilled his guts against a backdrop of moody synthesizers.
The price of fame was a recurring theme, although Drake seemed entirely comfortable in the spotlight. When he wasn’t punching the air for emphasis, dancing along the edge of the stage or conducting his band, he paused to admire the outfits, tattoos and posters of various audience members.
Toward the end of the 80-minute performance, Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly made a scene-stealing, crowd-surfing cameo.
Drizzy and MGK were arm in arm for the finale, a high-octane rendition of “Headlines.”
See, kids? It pays to eat a good breakfast.
Crowd-warming duties were handled by several other Northeast Ohio talents, including Stalley, a rapidly up-and-coming MC from Massillon who just landed a record deal with Warner Bros.
No surprise there. Stalley (real name: Kyle Myricks) commanded our attention via a set of enlightened flows with a decidedly Midwestern flavor.
source: John Soeder, The Plain Dealer