Staples Center

November 25, 2013

Better than: Degrassi

There was a moment last night when Drake got on circular walkway that ascended toward the ceiling and shouted out individual fans in the audience — from the pricey seats to the nosebleeds.

“I see you baby with the curly hair. I see you with the hat on. I see you man, with your arms raised in the black sweater,” he said, taking his time working his way through the left and right sides of the packed crowd. “I see you in the white jeans right there; you're beautiful.”

The moment was an apt summation of the Toronto rapper's appeal: Drake sure knows how to make you feel special.

The show began with performances by Party Next Door, Future and Miguel, the latter of whom danced and thrusted around stage in a feather and leather jacket and dropped lines including “Imma do you like drugs tonight,” “All you dudes who ever got some pussy to one of my songs say hey,” and “I see that you've got my shirt on; you know I look good on you.”

Miguel; Credit: Timothy Norris

Miguel; Credit: Timothy Norris

Miguel's show is largely built around his kinetic sex appeal, but the L.A. native is a charming showman and can really hit the high notes, especially on his big hit “Adorn,” with which he closed his performance.

See also: Our Miguel Feature Story

The crowd was dressed to impress and the energy in the Staples Center felt a lot like a party. Drake came onstage at 9:30, rising from the back of a circular, futuristic stage production and wearing a white track suit and orange tank top while making silhouettes in front of a massive LED panel. He opened with “Tuscan Leather” from his recently released Nothing Was the Same and then went through “Headlines” and “Crew Love.” The women screamed appreciatively when the track jacket came off.

It wasn't a complicated performance, just Drake running around onstage, but that was enough. The man is charismatic and high energy. His vocals — the rapping and the singing — were tight, as were his intermittent dance moves. There was rarely a lull.

“I've been sitting in that tour bus,” he announced at one point, “looking at the calendar and counting down the days until I come back to my second home of L.A.”

His adopted town seemed madly appreciative, with many folks in the crowd rapping along to every single word, women taking to the aisles to dance and one girl behind us attempting to throw a pair of black panties at him but missing. Future came back out to do a bit of their duet on Lil Wayne's “Bitches Love Me (Good Kush & Alcohol)” and then his own “Same Damn Time.”

He wears every single chain. Even when he's in the house.; Credit: Timothy Norris

He wears every single chain. Even when he's in the house.; Credit: Timothy Norris

The guest appearances got even more exciting, with Drake introducing his label boss Birdman, who tonelessly yelled a bit of Big Tymers' “Still Fly” (“gator boots, with the pimped out Gucci suits…”) before just sort of standing at the foot of the stage and soaking up the cheers. Drake was then joined by L.A. singer Jhené Aiko, who came out barefoot and dueted on Nothing Was the Same's “From Time.”

“I needed to hear that shit, I hate when you're submissive, passive aggressive when we're texting, I feel the distance,” Drake rapped. Such lyrics demonstrate why a lot of critics label him as an overly sensitive “emo rapper” but this kind of thing is arguably why women are so into him. Even if it's just part of his game, he seems to care about what you're thinking.

Case in point too is the pro-woman anthem “Make Me Proud” for which Nicki Minaj rose out of the stage for her verse. The final guest of the night was Snoop Dogg, who came out and did “The Next Episode,” “Nothing But a G Thang” and “Drop It Like It's Hot,” with Drake running around onstage behind him looking ridiculously excited. Snoop then exited and Drake closed the show with his hit “Started From the Bottom.”

“Los Angeles, I can't even thank you for a great show, or being a great crowd,” he said at the end, “I've got to thank you for one of the best motherfucking nights of my life. What you've got to understand is that I'm 27 years old. I don't know many other 27 year olds that could step in this building and do what we did tonight, y'all understand what I'm saying.”

“They told me, they tried to tell me at least,” he continued, “'Oh when you go to L.A., they've seen it all, they'll just stand around. They're not going to scream; they're not going to cheer,' but tonight…to anybody that told me that by the way, I'd like to say a big fuck you, because L.A. was incredible.”

Indeed, on the way out, many people were gushing about how it was the best show they'd seen in awhile. Among them were four guys who flew here from England just for the concert. “Birdman! Nicki Minaj! Snoop Dogg!” one Englishman yelled, “I flew more than 4,000 miles for this, and it was completely worth it!”

Even the five year old exiting Staples on his dad's shoulders was satisfied. “What did you like about the Drake show?” we asked the kid. He didn't even pause. “Everything.”

Random Notebook Dump: Nicki Minaj's butt is amazing.

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