|Toronto rapper Drake headlined his 3rd annual OVO Fest to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Sunday August 5, 2012.(Veronica Henri/QMI Agency)
Has Toronto’s very own Drake lost some of his heat?
That’s what I was starting to think about an hour and 20 minutes into the local rapper’s headlining slot at his 3rd annual OVO (October’s Very Own) Fest at the Molson Amphitheatre on Sunday night in front of a sold-out crowd.
Drake’s two previous festivals in 2011 and 2010 saw surprise appearances by such A-List performers as Lil Wayne, Stevie Wonder and Nas; Jay-Z and Eminem, respectively.
Sunday night’s roster, however, was big on emerging performers as guests during his set - previously announced rappers A$AP Rocky and 2 Chainz, along with rising Toronto R&B singer The Weeknd (all three were openers) along with surprise performers/rappers Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, French Montana and the very established Rick Ross.
But then came the arrival of two big guns in the festival’s last half-hour. (And they were the only weapons given the presence of metal detectors, full pat down searches at the doors - I kept thinking I was going to miss my flight! - and more police officers than I’ve seen at a major show in recent memory.) First up was Snoop Dogg, now Snoop Lion as he pursues a reggae career, who cooly and casually sauntered on stage in a denim outfit and a white rasta tam.
The excitable crowd, who were almost impossible to keep out of the aisles all night long, went bananas and Snoop showed why he’s “legendary,” as described by Drake afterwards during such songs as It’s Like This, It’s Like That, You’re My Baby Girl and Drop It Like It’s Hot.
I wanted more of his wit and charm.
“Snoop Lion is in the house!” he decared. “T.Dot, where you at?”
The other big “get” was female rapper Nicki Minaj in all her outrageous fashion glory with a blonde wig, thigh high black patent leather boots, leopard print tights, red patent leather panties, and a fuschia jacket over a black bra.
She was, like Foxy Cleoptra in Austin Powers, “a whole lotta woman!” as she joined Drake on Make Me Proud and performed her own, Beez In The Trap.
“Canada I love you!” she said before teetering off in her high heeled boots.
Otherwise, Drake’s own success with his two studio albums - 2011’s Take Care and 2010’s Thank Me Later - was reflected in his enormous and impressive stage, out of which he initially emerged in head-to-toe white with row after row of video screens making up a huge wall behind him and a five piece band often invisible in the dark.
“Toronto! Y’all ready to get this s--t started?” he said after ditching the white jacket and later lifting up his white tank top to reveal a ‘416’ tattoo under one of his armpits.
“Drizzy! Drizzy! Drizzy!” the audience chanted after Drake had delivered only a few songs including Underground Kings and Over.
The Weeknd joined him on vocals for Crew Love, 2 Chainz (previously known as Titi Boi in case you were wondering) on No Lie, Waka Flocka Flame on It’s A Party, Meek Mill on Amen, and I’m A Boss, Rick Ross and French Montana on Stay Schemin’ and so on.
On his own, Drake tackled She Will, We’ll Be Fine, Forever, Marvin’s Room, Take Care, HYFR (Hell Ya F---ing Right, and ended with Headlines.
Coming home with his own music festival obviously means a lot to the 25-year-old, who was born Aubrey Graham and appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation, before exploding as a rap star eventually signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money.
Drake said Weezy wanted to appear on Sunday night but was unable to.
For his part, Lil Wayne said in a recent interview that rap had become “pretty boring” and that he was going to be concentrating on skateboarding instead.
Sunday night was anything but boring.