Concert review: Drake at Pier Six Pavilion
Midnight Sun concert reviewer John-John Williams IV saw Drake perform at Pier Six last night. Here are his thoughts:
A couple years ago, I would have thought you were crazy if you told me a former kid actor from Canada would roll into Baltimore and rock the crowd with the same swagger and lyrical prowess of veteran rappers from the gritty streets of America's inner cities.
But that is exactly what Drake did last night at Pier Six Pavilion to a crowd of screaming, head nodding, and in a number of cases, scantily dressed, 20-somethings.
It's amazing that this young import has yet to drop his debut album. (It's coming June 15.) Until now he’s been the collaboration king, working with his mentor Lil' Wayne, fellow newcomer Nicki Minaj and industry heavyweights like Alicia Keys.
But he proved last night that he is more than capable of headlining a show. Who knows? He might even live up to the hype of being the next big thing in rap ...
With an impressive array of rapping and singing skills, Drake's potential seems endless. Toss in his acting roots, and Drake has the potential to be a double threat like LL Cool J, Will Smith, and Ice Cube.
One thing became very apparent when Drake hit the stage last night -- he knows how to work a crowd and connect with his material. His voice was crisp and strong, his lyrics delivered in a clear, confident manner. And the crowd wasn’t sitting there playing the "What did he just say" game while listening to him (Soulja Boy and Lil’ Wayne, take note).
Most importantly, he's likable. At times he's self-deprecating. Instead of shying away from his teeny-bopper TV show roots, he poked fun at it. When he did something as gauche as scanning the pavilion and pointing out all the women in the audience he said he wanted to have sex with, there weren’t the groans and boos you would expect if R. Kelly did the same. There’s just something about him -- call it charisma.
Drake hit the stage hard and energetic. Wearing a black Towson University hoodie, he performed his hit "Forever," and the mostly Towson University crowd went nuts. Drake then transitioned into the fast paced "Unstoppable." By his third song, he ripped off the sweatshirt and launched into the first of several endearing anecdotes he shared with the audience.
"I come here from Toronto, Canada to give you a show ya'll will never forget," he said. That youthful confidence was somewhat comical, yet refreshing. You could tell he really meant it.
While Drake’s concert wasn't the best I've seen in the past 16 months -- Beyonce, Maxwell, and Lady Gaga have a healthy lead -- he did show a lot of promise. With time, I think he might be able to be mentioned in the same breath.
Drake really mixed up his material during his 90 minutes on stage. One minute he was earning street cred with hard lyrics featured in Lil' Wayne’s song "I'm Going In." The next he was crooning to the crowd. A few minutes later he was freestyle rapping. At one point he picked a female fan from out of the crowd and slow danced with her on stage. He even threw in a little comedy when a number of audience members tossed their bras at him.
"I was having a moment on stage and you throw a double D bra at me," a smiling Drake said as he held up the bra in question. A few minutes later, his microphone stand was draped with assorted bras.
My favorite moment of the concert was when he performed "Successful," a beautifully haunting track laced with what sounds like a choir of angels singing in the background. The lavender lights draped over the crowd as a breeze from the harbor cooled the crowd. It was as close to a perfect concert moment as you can get.
The crowd was the loudest when veteran rapper Birdman came on stage and joined Drake for the songs “4 My Town” and “Money To Blow.” The two had really good chemistry. They fed off each other’s energy, and really worked the crowd.
Drake ended the night by performing his hit "The Best I Ever Had." Considering its title, that song might have been released too early in his career. I think the best is yet to come.
(Photo by Getty Images)
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