Hip-hop artist Drake has taken his music career to superstar status faster than almost anyone has ever done before.
His second and most recent album Take Care debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 600,000 copies during the first week of sales and avoiding the dreaded “sophomore slump.”
The album has since surpassed one million album sales, giving Drake his second platinum album and spawning five singles that have all charted in the top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100.
With this success, Drake could have easily scheduled his Club Paradise Tour to visit the largest arenas and stadiums throughout the country and made very good money doing so. He decided, however, that he wanted to perform at college campuses in smaller and much more intimate settings.
In an interview with MTV News, Drake mentioned why fighting to get the tour to hit college campuses was important to him.
“I want to make sure I go see these people that supported me from day one,” Drake said.
And when he came to USC to see the Galen Center’s sold-out audience of around 10,000, he gave fans a more than worthwhile show.
Though openers Chase N. Cashe, A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar kept the crowd excited during the first hour of the concert, the anticipation for Drake could be felt throughout the Galen Center once the opening acts were finished. When the lights dimmed, the crowd released that anticipation into a large and constant roar that lasted throughout his first medley of songs, which included the thematic “I’m On One.”
After getting some help from the crowd to sing “Crew Love,” Drake showed off his surprisingly adequate singing ability for the first time of the night in the song “Shot for Me.” Though Drake’s vocals definitely are not going to make him a Rhythm & Blues star anytime soon, they suit his performance style well. Accordingly, his signature ad-libs of “ohs” at the end of his notes had girls from the floor to the upper level screaming at the top of their lungs.
With the show in Los Angeles, it seemed nearly certain that Drake would have some surprise guest or guests in store for the evening.
Sure enough, he brought out Bay Area-rapper LoveRance to perform his song “Up!” followed by Maybach Music Group member Meek Mill, who energized the crowd even more with his pumped- up performances of “House Party” and “Ima Boss.” Drake followed, ending the first half of his set with a strong rendition of “Forever” before going offstage for a short interlude.
Returning to sing his drunken ballad “Marvin’s Room,” he was almost overpowered by the crowd’s participation. He continued with an extremely energetic performance of “Take Care,” in which he completely immersed himself in the music and danced all over the stage during the last minutes of the song.
The highlight of the night, however, goes to the unexpected appearance of RocNation’s own J. Cole for a surprise performance of his hit song “Can’t Get Enough.” The audience’s shock was noticeable throughout the song.
Before going into the final songs of his show, Drake went section by section through the crowd for about 10 minutes, pointing out the most noticeable fans he could find.
From a girl with a mustard yellow shirt in the upper level to a serious-looking man wearing sunglasses to a woman with a poster about traveling 1,403 miles to see the performance, he pointed out as many people as he could for whatever reason he could think of — mostly to reciprocate the love his fans were giving him.
After performing his last two songs, “The Motto” and “Headlines,” Drake again took the time to sincerely thank everyone for coming to the show and supporting his music. He mentioned that even though the rap game is always changing, he will continue to make music for his fans until his body is in the dirt. Drake ended the show with an assertive “Take care!”
Drake’s Club Paradise Tour was a perfect show of everything Drake offers as an artist.
His ability to slow down and sing a couple of songs without losing the energy of the crowd is a testament to his organization of the show. Not to mention, his utilization of both a full band and DJ throughout the show — in addition to the attention-grabbing light shows — gave the show much more of a live and musical experience.
For Drake, there was no better way to showcase his artistry.