Sunday, April 25, 2010

Concert Review: Drake at Penn State

As you may or may not know I am kind of a fan of Drake. I had circled this concert date on my calendar since the day the tour was announced...and then got tickets. I knew it would be a nice two and a half hour trek to Happy Valley and a stretch to make it in time after work, but what the hell, might be my only chance to see Drake in a smaller venue before his new album Thank Me Later drops and he ascends to the upper echelon of Hip Hop.

Fast forward to me getting off work early enough to get to State College to grab some Qdoba with my roommate Mike, who wasn't 1/100th as excited for the concert as I. Didn't bother me one bit, I had enough motivation for the whole crowd both of us...especially after seeing the abundance of college dime pieces that I am no longer privy to viewing in my current geographic location. Really made me feel like I had done myself an injustice for not living up and taking advantage of being young and irresponsible...until I realized that I still do the exact same things now on the weekend with a smaller group of friends, no homework and slightly more ability to buy drinks. Do I wish I was still poor doing homework? Hell yes I do, have you seen the way college girls dress/act these days? No.

Anyways, fast forward to a slightly forgettable opening act, k-os, who had a few covers that got the crowds attention, but was a reminder why the tickets were so affordable. Slightly before 10 pm, the lights were killed, leading up to this hype intro with his verse from Forever:
Intro to Concert

Overall a pretty solid entrance, can't complain, it's probably his most recognized verse by now and an attention grabbing track. The first song was definitely an indication of what was to come with a lot of cameo verses from other tracks and a slightly unfamiliar live band sound to his music. Not gonna lie I was slightly cynical of the live band sound meshing with his music, but I kept an open mind and my thought process changed a bit throughout the concert.

From Forever, he took us on a So Far Gone journey around a couple less appreciated tracks like Unstoppable, the subtly inspirational Lust for Life and the cult/ladies favorite Houstonatlantavegas. To be quite honest, I never really did have the right appreciation for Houstonatlantavegas, but like a fine wine I'm appreciating it more and more as time goes on. Amidst less appreciated tracks from his mixtape were two of my favorites, the first being Uptown, where I was more than a little curious to hear if he was going to give his mid-first verse shout out to my Ohio State Buckeyes or whether he would switch the lyrics up to reflect the college he was performing at (Penn State). Lo and behold, Drizzy Drake kept it 100 and shouted out the Buckeyes, despite performing in front of a crowd of 100% Penn State fans. Daps & lbs were well deserved as he then continued on to perform my favorite track of his November 18th. To be honest I still get chills watching him perform this track in Houston where he literally couldn't get in a word because the whole audience was all over every word. Below is the track you all may or may not have heard me rapping in my car...for select audiences (you with a smile on your face right now know who you are...haha)
November 18th

No matter how many days/years go by that will always be one of my favorite tracks because it has so many elements of why I love music all in one track. From the DJ Screw inspired first verse with the slowed down tempo giving way to the R&B verse in the middle with the soulfully suggestive's as close to a perfect track to fit my musical tastes that you'll ever find. Was happy to hear it live...

Moving on to a new verse he has recently performed in concert from his track Fireworks. The lyrics to this track are like most of his music, personal and introspective. Can't wait for that whole song to drop on that one, but that was the first of 7 straight cameo verses where he took us from his verse on Killer with Nipsey Hustle to his verse off of Money to Blow, I'm Still Fly and a special rendition of I'm Going In where the crowd rapped out Lil Wayne's verse that was being taped and was supposed to air on Hot 97 the next day for big homie up at Rikers Island. He continued on with his verse off Fabolous's Throw it in the Bag remix (which I had forgot he even did til I heard it again) and finally finished with his second most played out verse off the Young Money track Bedrock.
Bedrock Verse

After the barrage of quick cameos I had a couple thoughts. 1) How many damn songs am I gonna get to hear tonight? (this is awesome!) 2) He really hasn't even released an album yet and he's got this many huge cameos that everyone knows the words to? That speaks to the amount of respect he has already garnered from his peers in the game.

Moving forward I appreciated the tempo of his set list slowing a bit for the ladies with his background vocals on the sexy Unthinkable with Alicia Keys, his duet with Lloyd on A Night Off. Most people don't even know he collaborated with Alicia on that track, but he aided a little bit of background harmony. Lotta people have slept on that BMM quality slow jam on A Night Off too...that's some grown and sexy ish right there.

It was cool to hear him speak so highly of his "favorite" track lyrically with Fear, which was a bonus track on his re-released So Far Gone.I'd suggest checking out why this is his most personal song. My favorite lyric of the track is:
"The honesty of my music has left me too exposed
All my old friends think I got a new crowd
And people seem to notice every time I do smile
I guess that mean they come few and far between
Even though am living out what you would call the dream."

Nobody would ever truly feel bad for someone who has to do with the problems that come from success and money, but the struggles are real. Biggie said it best, Mo Money Mo Problems man...and while I think deep down inside Aubrey Drake Graham is just a regular dude tryin' to kick it and be normal, the challenges that come with becoming successful changes people. The fact that he can openly vent about that through tracks like this makes his music all the more accessible and as a result, me at least...I know I over analyze...#gift/curse 

Got a little sidetracked there, but as Drake headed toward the finish line, he brought us back in with well known tracks like Successful and Invented Sex with Trey Songz, Say Something with Timbo and the classic Best I Ever Had. All were about what you would expect, I really enjoyed hearing Successful live though and would have probably lost it had he thrown in that extra "lost" verse, but was still satisfied when he chose not to go four verses deep on a three verse track.

As 11 o'clock was rolling up and he was getting ushered off the stage like he had just sung My Way, he still (of course) had one left in him, his new single Over. I really think as people continue to warm up to this track with it getting more radio play, it will get to the point where it's as recognizable as Best I Ever Had, but it won't be the track that his album is remembered for. Now thats a 100% blind prediction, I'm not sitting on any underground knowledge other than a blueprint for a tracklist at this point, but I don't think Over has reached it's peak popularity by any means so far. Predictions aside here's a clip of his concert ending performance of Over.  

Overall I'll give the concert a solid B because all in all it was a good show, I got to see a lot of my favorite tracks of his live and in person. What it was missing was a good opening act and a smaller, more private venue. I'm still not sure if I really liked his live band aspect, but I can see where he's tryin' to go with it in making it more of a show than him rapping for the whole concert. Sure I could be picky and say I wish I would have heard an off the brain rendition of his Say U Will freestyle or wish that he would have done his classic track Congratulations, but those were far from expected to be on the set list. I only saw about 2 or 3 college kids get kicked out for being too intoxicated, so you could say the crowd was slightly rowdy, but well controlled and still into his music, which made it more enjoyable too. My hope is that once his album drops I can catch him at a smaller venue (probably not going to happen) and hear a more up close version of a lot of his tracks, which would make the emotion he pours into his music that much more palpable. Still if you get a chance I'd catch him if he's coming near you soon....


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