Drake’s Apollo Theater Takeover was a Celebration of His Past, Present & Future
Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Drake’s career spanning Apollo concert was a reminder of how he’s been the soundtrack to so many people’s lives,
A recording of Sandi, Drake’s mother, plays. “Aubrey, try to keep it down tonight when you’re working.” The stage darkens with a moody blue hue as it transforms into the artist’s teenage bedroom where Drake is sitting. “We’re going there tonight, I promise you,” he declares to a crowd of around 1,500 people, all ready to finally see Drake join the ranks of James Brown, Lauryn Hill, and countless others who’ve performed at the Apollo — one of the most iconic venues in the world.
Taking place over two nights over the weekend, Drake’s Apollo Theater takeover was long overdue after being postponed twice. Sponsored in partnership with Sirius XM and Drake’s new radio show Sound 42, the Saturday show included the likes of Justin and Hailey Bieber, Elliott Wilson, Ice Spice, and Sandi in attendance for a set that spanned the last 14 years of Drake’s career. The concert was a reminder of how he’s been the soundtrack to so many people’s lives, with his many musical eras spawning a catalog of songs that mean so much to so many.
Take Care opener, “Over My Dead Body,” kicked off the show, with the song’s lush, piano-driven production washing over the crowd, foreshadowing the nostalgia-heavy set. Donning the basketball jersey of his Degrassi character Jimmy Brooks, Drake made it clear he was trying to dedicate enough time to each sector of his fan base. Whether it’s his casual listeners, the ones who prefer his pop-leaning Hot 100 singles, or the fans who claim he fell off after Nothing Was the Same, Drake had something for every Drake era.
The first portion of the show featured B-Side cuts like “Wu-Tang Forever,” “Trust Issues,” and “Marvin’s Room.” The second portion of his set was more hit-centric. He was unrelenting: “Best I Ever Had,” “Forever,” “HYFR,” “God’s Plan” — each seamlessly went into the other, building up into an energetic peak that popped off with “Nonstop” and “Know Yourself,” the latter of which nearly shook the building as the crowd yelled “Running through the six with my woes” with an intensity that could be felt throughout the venue.
Drake then devoted a part of the last moments of his set to The Diplomats. Adorned in Cam’ron’s iconic pink fur mink coat, Drake brought out all four members of the beloved Harlem rap collective — Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Freekey Zekey — to perform “I Really Mean It,” “Dipset Anthem,” and “We Fly High” in front of a Harlem bodega marked with a Big L mural (a nod to the same set the group used during their 2003 Source Awards performance). Although it was only the hip-hop nerds who truly understood (and appreciated) Drake’s Dipset tribute, it was a move that only Toronto’s own could pull off for such a special occasion; the moment was cemented when Jones adorning Drake with an OVO x Dipset chain.
Following the tribute, Drake proceeded to bring out another special guest to help him finish up the night — 21 Savage, teasing a possible summer tour. Ending his set with “Legend” — which mixed in parts of Ginuwine’s “So Anxious” — Drake took a moment to speak with fans before leaving the stage.
“I’ve thought about a bunch of things in life, but at this moment in time, none of those things are stopping making music for you,” he said. “So I’ll be here for you for a little bit at least.”