As Drake sailed above the crowd, flying overhead on a pole–zip line straight out of last month's Katy Perry concert, you had to admire his dedication to the stadium-show spectacle. Lil Wayne—his mentor and, for the purposes of the evening, friendly adversary—sure wasn't going to get up there. From his perch, the rapper born Aubrey Graham called out various members of the crowd in full Vegas-showman-working-the-room mode, last seen at his July ESPY-hosting engagement. For that reason, the format of Drake vs. Lil Wayne tour—which stopped at Forest Hill Tennis Stadium Tuesday, August 19—is uniquely suited to his strengths. For its part, the venue, which has dealt with its share of ticketing and organizational issues since reopening last year, succeeded in pulling off its first real blockbuster show.
Paired with the perpetually stoned, off-the-cuff Wayne, Drake never hesitated to go for the crowd-pandering line or the verging-on-cornball easy laugh (at one point, a loop of Drake lint-rolling his pants courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game ran behind a song). For two-plus hours, the pair rolled out hits, guest verses and mixtape cuts as they traded playful jabs, alternating short sets and collaborating for a closing three-song send-off—"The Motto," "Believe Me" and "HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)"—only after a winner was chosen (Drake, via app).
The prevailing narrative—Weezy as the vet on the comeback trail, Drake as the pupil-become-master—segued nicely into plugs for their respective albums, Tha Carter V (Oct 28) and Views from the 6 (TBA 2015)…and yet, more than one crowd member could be heard clamoring for Queens native/former Wayne protégé Nicki Minaj. The Young Money labelmate, who's set to release one of the fall's most anticipated albums, The Pinkprint, was a no-show, but somehow still managed to win the night. Showgoers went home to find that she'd be releasing the video for new single "Anaconda" at midnight (watch the NSFW effort below). It says something about shifting tides that Nicki was able to steal the stage in absentia, with a video that utilizes the multi-talented Drake mainly as a piece of furniture, though a meme-worthy one at that.
Drake vs. Lil Wayne visits PNC Bank Arts Center Tue Aug 26.
Nicki Minaj - "Anaconda"