Drake gathers stars of Canadian hip-hop, duets with Nelly Furtado

For Torontonians who attended the Drake’s History venue on Friday night, OVO – for October’s Very Own, the superstar’s enduring Canadian brand – might as well have stood for Our Very Own.

In fact, it could be said that Drake made history with what he dubbed the “All Canadian North Stars,” a stunning gathering of native hip-hop and R&B artists who, as he announced in his Instagram lineup announcement wrote, “paved the way for all of us.”

Some of the artists introduced hip-hop to Canada long before the city was called TheSix or even T-dot. And while it was never mentioned, it was hard not to notice that the night was being filmed, possibly for a documentary.

Drake has single-handedly supported the careers of more than 100 Canadian producers, beatmakers and songwriters by using them on his albums (according to a count by music publisher Michael McCarty, citing performing rights organization SOCAN) – the majority from the greater Toronto area /Southern Ontario , indeed – and the All Canadian North Stars Show was Drizzy’s chance to give flowers to many of the artists who helped him along the way.

The three-and-a-half-hour concert, which ended after 2 a.m., kicked off Drake’s annual OVO weekend, which usually coincides with the end of the month-long Toronto Caribbean Carnival. This year he’s calling it October World Weekend: Road To OVO Fest Tour as he plans to take his long-running 10th anniversary OVO Fest internationally in 2023.

Friday’s bill, announced earlier in the week, included rapper Choclair; Keshia Chanté, R&B artist and Drake’s “first girlfriend”; R&B singer Glenn Lewis; R&B group In Essence (and Dru solo); Canada’s “Queen of R&B” powerhouse Jully Black; Canada’s Hip Hop Ambassador Cardinal Offishall (aka Kardi); singer/rapper k-os; “the godfather of Canadian hip hop” Maestro Fresh Wes; Vancouver rap group Rascalz; Drake’s mentor Saukrates; R&B pop singer Shawn Desman; and the only American act, rapper Frank-N-Dank (with big Toronto ties).

This line-up in and of itself is a who’s who, but it’s the who else that knocked it out of the park, the mysterious “+ Special Guests” as it said on the show’s poster, performing all night for released her own mini-sets: Grammy-winning pop star Nelly Furtado; “Canada’s First Lady of Hip-Hop” Michie Mee; R&B singer Melanie Durrant; and rappers Solitaire (with Kardi), Ro Dolla, Jelleestone and Infinite. Agile and Kid Kut hosted and DJed ahead of the show, keeping the flow between each act.

“To me, this is bigger than any American act, any show I could ever see,” Drake said during a five-minute speech reviewing the names of people and places integral to Toronto hip-hop. Several times during the show, Drake expressed, “This is one of the best nights I’ve ever had in my life.”

“That’s why the city is the way it is here tonight,” continued Drake. “Really. I’m very grateful and I’m very grateful because if I were somewhere else I might have done something very different, but because of every single one of these people who performed tonight, I’m where I am.”

To put in perspective what some of these artists have achieved, the barriers they have broken and what they mean to Canada, here are just a few of their accomplishments:

Maestro Fresh-Wes was the first Canadian hip-hop artist to have a gold single, 1989’s “Let Your Backbone Slide” and the first black artist to go platinum (1989’s Symphony In Effect). Kardi is also a judge on Canada’s Got Talent and was until recently an executive at Universal Music Canada; and Rascalz made history when they refused to accept the 1998 Juno Award for Best Rap because it wasn’t televised, but got CARAS to reevaluate and invite them to perform “Northern Touch” on the show to perform the following year with The Circle (Rascalz, Kardi, Checkmate, Thrust and Choclair); For the 20th anniversary, the single was remixed and “The Northern Touch All Stars” hijacked two minutes of the Junos with an impromptu rendition, but made it a point to note that despite the No. 1, Canadian rappers are “still trying to gain notoriety.” fight at home”. popularity of the genre.

Tickets for All Canadian North Stars were only US$20 (US$15), which was wonderful value for such an epic line given the inflated costs for Young Money Reunion, which ran into the thousands due to Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing up was.

And while the new 35,000-square-foot, 2,553-seat History — which opened last November in partnership with Live Nation — has permanent metal detectors on the door, security has been extremely tight (perhaps due to the incident at last night’s Dua Lipa concert at the Scotiabank Arena). where someone set off fireworks into the crowd); not even bags of the right size were allowed inside and the security forces even confiscated this journalist’s pen.

Inside, however, the sold-out show was a spacious love fest.

While there was some grumbling about those missing from the lineup – Ghetto Concept, Dream Warriors, Snow, and others – it’s unclear if this was an oversight or just unavailability given the last minute announcement. The show was curated by acclaimed DJs Starting From Scratch and Charlie B along with Drake.

During his speech, or what Maestro called Drake’s “Shakespearean monologue,” he had declared, “This is probably one of the most important events we’ve ever done for OVO weekend, the October World Weekend,” and himself meeting Jay reminds -Z at the Caribana when he was 17, and Toronto’s own Cardinal Offishall was dragged onto the stage. “For me it was really a moment that released something in my head. I realized that all of this is possible.”

Kardi said of Drake during his set when they first met: “The only thing on his heart and on his mind was that he wanted to be the greatest in the world. Everyone has the opportunity to be number 1, but if you have a work ethic and drive, if you have passion, if you have a team and make damn good music, then you become the best in the world.”

And it wasn’t just Drake who thanked everyone. Other artists also gave flowers. As Jully Black said, “This night is about collaboration and celebration, not competition.”

Highlights: Drake sings “I’m Like A Bird” with Nelly Furtado and says her music “changed my life so much”; watching his brother hug with Saukrates and Rascalz’ Red-1 and sidestage/onstage fandom and groove; Drake calls k’os “one of my biggest influences in my life” and performs “Headlines” spontaneously; and the grand finale of “Northern Touch,” which had a good 50 people on stage as the night’s performers joined in on what Drizzy called “our true national anthem.”

Drake’s celebratory OVO concert takes place on Monday (1st August) on the Budweiser Stage, a Young Money reunion featuring Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. Hopefully, in the tradition of the OVO Fest, they will be numerous surprise guests and some of the “North Stars”. Even better if Friday’s concert inspires an OVO line-up to introduce the world to the pioneers who, at the time, didn’t have the infrastructure and power of the internet to make them household names beyond Canada.

“I look forward to sharing this weekend with you,” Drake said at the end. “See you on Monday for the Young Money reunion. I hope you will be there. I haven’t seen my family for a long time so I’ll try to give you the best show possible, but for now and for tonight, like I said, this is one of the best moments of my entire life. Thank you for sharing it with us.

“I hope that one day we can do that again. I wish we could do this every night to be honest. … But thank you for everything you gave me, all the love, all the memories, all the times when it didn’t suck and we all just tried to figure it out, grind it up. Music is not easy; never let it twist; it’s not an easy life. So having these great records, having these great voices, having these people still coming on stage and turning that shit off right now, we should be really thankful because a lot of places in the world don’t have that.”

https://variety.com/2022/music/news/drake-all-canadian-north-stars-concert-1235329995/ Drake gathers stars of Canadian hip-hop, duets with Nelly Furtado

Charles Jones

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