Everybody’s sweet talkin’
Ladies love cool Drake: When Drake canceled the Philadelphia date of his tour an hour before it was set to start over concern that a floating catwalk might be unsafe for the crowd below, I seriously thought about not going. Then, I reconsidered. We all have to go, and getting crushed by Drake would be a pretty badass way to die. As it turned out, however, the catwalk in question didn’t hang over the part of Sleep Train Arena where I sat, and so everyone survived Monday’s show. The catwalk, however, also facilitated the lamest part of the night: an endless shout-out session during which he called out hundreds of individual ladies, telling each one “I see you.” An example, “I see you girl in the striped dress, getting your groove on.” And so on, ad infinitum.
Drake’s energy was much higher during his duet with opener Future on the crowd-pleaser “Same Damn Time.” He also performed his verse from “Fuckin’ Problems,” a collaboration with 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky, proving, again, that Kendrick’s verse dominates on that song.
The audience loved songs from Drake’s latest album Nothing Was the Same as much as his classic 2011 release Take Care—the latter one of only a handful of rap records to go platinum since 2006. Drake’s 2012 tour was one of the top grossers of the year, however, bringing in more than $42 million, so don’t shed a tear for him.
The ladies love Drake, but a good portion of the dudes sang and danced along as well—even to his ovary-tingling ballads. The schmaltziest (but still awesome) moment came when an attractive woman, who looked to be in her late 40s, was led out onstage, visibly nervous as hell. Drizzy serenaded her with “Hold on, We’re Going Home.” Drake changed up the words to “Sac-town girls are perfect for me,” and after she was led off, he commented, “I hope she doesn’t think she’s too old. Older women are my specialty.”
The show ended with a surprisingly subdued version of “Started From the Bottom,” and then Drake peaced out by claiming that Sacramento was the best show on the tour. I wonder if this sweet talker says that to every town?
It’s a motherlovin’ twerk off: No, Waka Flocka is not the sound Fozzie Bear made on The Muppets. In fact, Waka Flocka Flame isn’t a joke at all, as proven by the electric live show the artist put on at Assembly on Monday night.
Like most hip-hop shows, this one sported too many openers—some better than others. Sacramento locals Takticz and Chuuwee got more reaction from the crowd than Flocka’s own support acts whose lack of stage presence and lackadaisical performance made all but their ironically huge gold chains forgettable.
Waka Flocka came out to play for a crowd that was turned up to the max. Flocka’s crunk energy was accompanied by the most punk-rock drummer to ever grace a hip-hop stage. The drummer didn’t even sit for half the set. Instead, he paced along the stage, playing drums and spinning and throwing his drumsticks and basically just catching the gangster-rap equivalent of the Holy Ghost.
Halfway through his set, Flocka jumped into the crowd, where he parted the human sea—all while performing, embracing fans and dismissing security. “We’re in Sacramento,” he explained over the loudspeaker, “It’s nothing but love, see.”
And it was. At least until a fight broke out between some girls in the front row. There were at least eight ladies involved. That’s 16 earrings coming undone and 16 high heels being taken off. Flocka addressed the responsible parties and then brought them all onstage to help them release their anger in one of the most innovative humanitarian efforts this journalist has ever seen: a twerk off.
The ladies each took the stage, one by one at first, before coming together to twerk as one. Glad we all already know what twerking is. Thanks, Miley.
Finally, Waka Flocka pulled what seemed to be half the crowd onstage for the night’s final songs. His willingness to be that close to fans made for a chaotic magic. Somewhere between the underground and the hit records, we, the fans, often lose that. In hip-hop, there’s a great emphasis placed on “keeping it real.” It doesn’t get more real than being shoulder to shoulder, sweating with the people who support your music.