Lil’ Wayne, Nas and Stevie Wonder were three surprise superstars Drake delivered at his second annual OVO (October’s Very Own) Festival in his hometown of Toronto on Sunday, July 31. “I’ve been on every street in this city, I’ve been to every mall, I love this city,” the 24-year-old said in a show that touted Toronto as an emerging scene for R&B and hip-hop.
The rapper, whose friends range from His Hip-Hop Highness Jay-Z to locker-door staple Justin Bieber, said he’d been personally prepping the show for months, with profits from the sold-out concert at the Molson Amphitheatre being funnelled back into the production. The hard work paid off. Even for a crowd expecting surprises after Jay-Z and Eminem made shock appearances at last year’s inaugural fest, jaws dropped as Drake introduced J.Cole, then welcomed Nas. “And we’re just getting started!” Drake said.
Stevie Wonder, wearing a printed tunic and sparkling silver sneakers, played his biggest hits over a 20-minute set, including “My Cherie Amour,” which Drake freestyled a verse over, rhyming, “If you really love me/Send me a text/Stevie on the keys/I wonder who’s next?” The crowd didn’t have to wonder long. A show-stopping performance by Lil’ Wayne and opening act Rick Ross closed the show.
The Weeknd, the reclusive Toronto R&B singer that incited an online frenzy when Drake tweeted about his mixed tape House of Balloons last March, opened the show with his groggy beats and falsetto vocals in his second ever publicized live show. When he returned to sing with Drake late in the show, Drake described The Weeknd as “one of the greatest voices I’ve ever heard in my life.”
And while The Weeknd made a promising debut alongside the list of legends, it was Drake’s night, and he knew it. “I promised myself one thing tonight,” he said. “I promised I wasn’t going to rush this.” Judging from the extended roar of applause, he wasn’t the only one.