Drake November 22, MGM Grand Garden Arena
I just finished reading Touré’s rather academic I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon, which explains how Prince was the ideal artist to connect with Gen-X because he came from a broken home, and his music expressed his apathy and hypersensitivity, and it was sexual and spiritual. Watching Drake’s quick-switching, multi-mood performance Friday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena, I couldn’t help but apply a similar framework. Will Drake be an iconic representative artist for Millennials? Is he already?
The Toronto rapper/crooner bounced around his discography but focused on material from September’s Nothing Was the Same, which finds him further exploring his feelings about being wealthy, famous and young. He opened the show with high drama, emerging in front of a massive color-flashing video screen at the top of a huge LED sphere, ferociously rhyming Nothing’s leadoff track “Tuscan Leather,” claiming he’s “rich enough that I don’t have to tell ’em that I’m rich.”
Drake does tell us he’s rich. A lot. Then he feels a little guilty about it. That’s the dichotomy of his music, and it was amplified throughout a concert in which he occupied a gigantic, cinematic stage space mostly alone. His band was hidden inside that light sphere. He barely performed an entire track, enthusiastically hopping from one song to the next as if he absolutely had to share everything. He relegated hits from older albums to a quick medley ... when he wasn’t even on the stage. His spotlight-demanding confidence is quintessentially Millennial, but so is his intense self-awareness.
Drake is never sure whether he should celebrate or contemplate. He injected tons of energy into downtempo, lovably quirky soundscapes, then paused to tell the crowd to “forget that deep emotional sh*t” because he knows Vegas came to party. After smoke, fireworks and a few ignorant, fun club bangers, the soft stuff was back. Performing “From Time” with the stunning Jhené Aiko, he rapped, “I want to take it deeper than money pussy vacation/And influence a generation that’s lacking in patience.” Of course, he closed with self-congratulatory anthem “Started From the Bottom,” murdering an audience that was loving him all along. In Drake’s world, there’s plenty of room for feelings and bottle popping. Kids these days.