“I’d like to take you on a little journey tonight, if that’s ok?,” Drake asked onstage at the Apollo Theater on Saturday (Jan. 21).
After two postponements last fall, the Toronto superstar finally graced the stage at the legendary Harlem venue on Saturday night for his first of two shows there this weekend. In partnership with SiriusXM and his radio show Sound 42, the concert was originally meant to take place on Friday (Nov. 11) but was moved to early December to mourn Takeoff whose untimely death occurred a little over a week prior. The show was then delayed again due to production issues.
Twenty-five minutes after his scheduled set time of 9:00 p.m., a white screen lifted to reveal Drake sitting in a bedroom made to look like his old room in his mother’s basement. The other side resembled a record label office.
Drake then took fans and guests on a journey through his career. As he sat on the edge of the bed “where I wrote a lot of these songs,” he said, he took the crowd back to his early days with songs like “Marvin’s Room,” “Say Something” and “Practice.” After 15 minutes there was a slight pause before the set changed to an office, representing the times he played his music at record labels, only to get rejected. Early hits like “Best I Ever Had,” “Over,” “Headlines” and “I’m On One” soundtracked that scene.
Drake powered through a good mix of his biggest hits and deep cuts. Below are eight best moments from Drake’s night at the Apollo.
Fans and guests were treated to free OVO T-shirts that were especially made for the show. The shirts were white with the OVO owl and the Apollo Theater’s logo on the left chest with the original show flier printed on the entire back.
The star-studded crowd
What’s a Drake show without a star-studded guest list? Notable people like Elliott Wilson, Kevin Durant, Odell Beckham Jr, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Ice Spice, 2 Chainz and more were in attendance for Drake’s first show in, what he said, “like five years or some s—.” A few times throughout the performance, the rapper also thanked his longtime friend and producer Noah “40” Shebib, who was in the crowd.
Drake’s nods to his Degrassi days
As he opened the concert with Take Care cut “Over My Dead Body,” Drake sported his Degrassi character Jimmy Brooks’s basketball jersey with baggy jeans and white Air Force 1s. “That’s what this sequence is about, me trying to grind my a– off and let people know that I’m not in a wheelchair in real life [and] Canadians can make music or whatever it was,” he joked later in the night after the record label scene.
The night was about gratitude
About seven minutes into his set, Drake took time to address the crowd. “I wanted to make this show about gratitude. This is a little story we put together about my deep love for my family, for my dear friends and for each and every one of you that have been supporting me for a long time,” he said. The star said he associates New York City with feelings of making it, and he revisited those feelings of gratitude by performing his biggest hits and deep cuts spanning his catalog thus far.
Drake being a mama’s boy
We all know that Drake is mama’s boy at heart. The rapper pointed out his mother, Sandi Graham, sitting in the mezzanine and thanked her for everything she’s done for him.
Dipset and diamond bracelets
After the record label scene, the stage design transitioned to a Harlem bodega and Dipset emerged along with Drake, who was wearing Cam’ron’s original pink mink coat and headband combo. The Harlem rap group — which includes Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey — performed their songs “I Really Mean It,” “Dipset Anthem” and Jones’s solo hit “We Fly High (Ballin’).” “I know I talk a lot about being influenced and I got a lot of love, but like … these guys right here from Harlem made us dress different, talk different, walk different, rap different, all the way in Canada,” said Drake after they performed. Jones then gifted Drake a diamond bracelet with jewels resembling the Dipset bird, praying hands, OVO logo, OVO owl and the Apollo logo.
’21, can you do something for me?‘
Fans were in for a treat when Drake brought out 21 Savage to perform a slew of Her Loss songs for the first time together. The two started with “Rich Flex” then tag-teamed for “Privileged Rappers,” “Spin Bout U,” “Jimmy Cooks” and “Knife Talk.” The Atlanta rapper told the crowd that his friendship with Drake is beyond music saying the Toronto native Drake would check on him often after they met in 2015. “He helped me every step of my career behind the scenes,” 21 said before hugging his friend.
Drake hinted at a summer tour with 21
“You should come see us this summer, we might be around,” Drake said before 21 left the stage.