Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto - July 31, 2011

Toronto rapper Drake headlines his second Ovo Fest at the Molson Canadian Amphitehatre in Toronto...

Toronto rapper Drake headlines his second Ovo Fest at the Molson Canadian Amphitehatre in Toronto on Sunday night, July 31, 2011. (Ernest Doroszuk QMI AGENCY)

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:29 AM ET

TORONTO - You’ve got to hand it to our kid Drake.

Pacing and transition problems aside, Toronto’s 24-year-old rapper du jour sure knows how to bring together A-listers. They graced the stage at the second edition of his OVO (October’s Very own) Fest at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Sunday night - the summer’s most anticipated concert at the lakeside shed along with The Black Keys a few weeks ago.

Would you believe soul legend Stevie Wonder, hip hop mogul Lil Wayne (and the head of Drake’s record label Young Money), and rapper Nas all made appearances? (Last year it was Jay-Z and Eminem for the first edition no less.)

That unlikely trio of Wonder, Wayne and Nas, along with previously announced openers, Drake’s R&B protege The Weeknd (that’s his song, High For This, being played on the current Entourage trailer on HBO) and Miami rapper Rick Ross - an another surprise in the form of rapper J. Cole - meant that Drizzy could share the wealth of the mutual love affair between himself and his city for three and a half hours.

“There’s only one city in the world I care about and that’s m-f Toronto!” said Drake after opening his set highlighted by such songs as Show Me A Good Time, Say Something, So Far Gone, Over and the medley of Rihanna/Destiny’s Child’s What’s My Name/Say My Name.

Even if Mother Nature wasn’t exactly cooperating with another sticky, humid night until a gentle breeze kicked up towards the end, it was an impressive and varied display of R&B, soul and hip hop.

After 25-30 minute opening sets by the vocally gifted, if movement challenged The Weeknd - it’s one thing to wow a crowd at the Mod Club a week ago and another to keep 16,000 fans engaged - Drake finally appeared.

Performing on a stage dominated by white steel beams supporting sheer white projection sheets, while his band played largely in the shadows, Drake was front and centre, teasing and flirting with the female audience members in particular.

“Her sign says, ‘Bang me Drake,’” said Drizzy, pointing out one lady and her placard. “I’d make love to you. I don’t know about banging. That’s some freaky signage.”

Sometimes Drake would wander off while the stage would go dark or he would fail to introduce a guest like Wonder for crying out loud who suddenly appeared on keyboards singing Sir Duke as the first surprise guest of the evening.

Hello? It’s Steve frickin’ Wonder!

I’d say he deserves an introduction especially when the kids in Drake’s audience seemed largely unimpressed by his arrival as he made his way through a half-dozen songs - Sir Duke, I Wish, My Cheri Amour, Ribbons In The Sky, Signed, Sealed, Delivered and Superstitious - delighting those of us who appreciated the presence of a soul genius.

To his credit, Drake appeared about half-way through Wonder’s half-hour set to bow down in admiration and respect, finally saying out loud: “Give it up for Stevie Wonder!”

But the roar of approval when Weezy finally appeared right before the show wrapped up was noticeably louder as the shirtless, tattooed and dread locked rapper worked the crowd, with Ross and Drake returning to the stage to rap alongside him.

It was Drake alone on stage the end, which gave him just enough time to proclaim his love for T.O. one more time - “the greatest city in the world!” as he called it earlier - and plug his much anticipated second studio album, Take Care, due Oct. 24.

 


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