Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Drake Steady in His Spotlight

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Drake Steady in His Spotlight

Article excerpt

The man onstage had just ripped through four tracks in a few minutes -- spitting lyrics like hot slugs from a rattling machine gun -- before he took a breath, the lights dimming, and yelled into the crowd: "I go by the name of Drizzy Drake!"

And for a show that featured five rappers, including the likes of J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill and 2 Chainz, it could've been hard to stand out. But for actor-turned-multi-platinum-rapper Drake, it was never really in doubt. You see, this was his show, his Club Paradise Tour, and though the other artists took the stage and gave it their all, it was bound to be Drake's spotlight to steal all along.

After emerging center stage, seemingly from within a cloud of smoke, Drake kept nobody waiting, with "Lord Knows" and "Under Ground Kings," two tracks from his latest album, "Take Care." By the time he hit the third song on the set list, his part from DJ Khaled's "I'm On One," the crowd was already singing back.

Following a spiteful but not quite angry "Crew Love," Drake turned down the lights to address the crowd, an act that would be repeated throughout the show as part of an intended theme. The Club Paradise Tour was more than just a name; it was Drake's way of trying to bring the perfect club experience to an almost-full First Niagara Pavilion.

And as the crowd listened to the 25-year-old rapper describe what they had just heard as the "drive to the club," there was the sense that the concept worked if you made it work -- like squinting at a painting to blur the flaws. Fortunately, nobody seemed to be focusing on the overarching theme. When he followed up his brief aside with "Up All Night," the crowd was throwing his lines back at him with just as much fervency.

Drake continued with his trademark reflection in "We'll Be Fine," managing to toe the line between keeping his content true to the meaning and keeping the crowd satisfied in their frenzy. And as everyone learned, it never hurts to challenge the hometown by screaming, "Is Pittsburgh here?"

Sure enough, as the crowd died down, it was time again to progress to the next step of the "evening out" philosophy. …

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