DRAKE MADE ME NERVOUS…
Sunday started something like this: ‘Drake tonight?’ We’re in a heavy fourth-quarter tour season. Cole & Wale, Yeezus and Hov, and while I have love for all those guys, my inevitable answer to Would You Like A Tour? was, ‘yes please.’
It’s no secret I’ve been a Drake fan since Comeback Season, enjoyably watching him grow into the artist he’s become. He’s built a career off a vulnerability that I alternatively identify with and envy. But as he evolved, so did I. I left Hollywood, started my blog, moved to New York, ended my blog, began to write and produce for other people, got numerous interviews under my belt, joined a web series, left a web series, worked with and for artists and shot a TV show. Hard to describe experiences have sort of become common, not in a boastful way but in a this is just how it is way. I was explaining a few months ago how I barely recall the days of celebrity crushes, before I knew the truth about OZ. Rarely is there anything dreamy about the men behind the mask. I’m an eternal optimist that still appreciates realism, who’s slightly jaded.
My homegirl Tina Farris, a legend in her own right, had passes to the show. We chilled in the backstage lounge, catching Future and Miguel on the monitor before going to the front of the house for the main event.
I’ve seen Drake before. Quite a few times actually. We’ve met. Spoken. I’ve seen him perform, twice. We even had a couple run-ins prior to the show in the hallway in and around the OVO Room. I’m 14 years into Entertainment. Little surprises me anymore. I carry myself professionally and remain mindful not to do anything that might make me ‘that’ girl. So as we caught each other’s eyes passing in the hallway, I politely said, ‘hey, how are you?’ and kept it moving.
I found myself in the circle during his pre-show prayer. He asked for covering over his performance, his voice, Jhene Aiko’s voice, safety for the entire arena, he wanted us all to make it home safe. It was sweet. Sincere.
Drake’s show is awesome. He’s growing leaps and bounds with every tour. His energy is high. He raps like he means every word. He didn’t sing as much, but when he did, he sounded good. The stage is art, complete with the giant circular terrace that allows him to round the arena for one on one time with even the nosebleed sections. There’s a bit of camp and high drama to him. He makes a production of taking a sip of water and takes his time removing his jacket. The girls love it. He knows his audience. Tina likened him to the new Sinatra of Hip Hop. While I still give that title to Jay, Drake’s a shoe in for Dean Martin.
When the concert ended, we went backstage to say our goodbyes. After a shower and a brief moment of solitude, Drake graciously allowed us in. Save for his manager Oliver, and a few other loyal OVO players, the room was empty. He hugged Tina right away. They go way back. The love and respect is clear. She quickly reintroduced us. He hugged me. And then, well…nothing.
I was speechless. Me. Speechless. I can’t tell you the last time that happened. I’m a serial conversationalist, able to have the most meaningful exchanges with strangers, politicians, children, homeless subway dwellers and movie stars alike. This summer, I had a wonderful conversation with Oprah without hesitation. But here I was, face to face with Aubrey Drake Graham and I said nothing. We just sort of…looked at one another.
Sure, Drake is every bit as cute and charming in person as you’d expect Drake to be. He’s got natural warmth that cocktails well with his awkwardness, forming the perfect recipe for charisma. And in a sea of entitled, standoffish and lazy artists, it’s refreshing.
There was even plenty to talk about. He’d just shown all 7 of us the rough cut of the ‘Worst Behavior’ video. I’ve had the same three questions regarding Nothing Was The Same since its September release. And while I enjoyed his recent interview with Jihan Ghomeshi, I strongly disagreed with some of his thoughts on social media. Yet, I didn’t want to ask any of it. I just stood there and allowed myself to be a fan.
Blogs and social media have created a legion of pundits. We’ve become a league of under informed armchair quarterbacks all too ready to rate and second-guess instead of listening, digesting and simply saying thank you for the art that’s been shared with us. We’re entitled; as if we’re owed the art we’ve stopped really paying for. I too, am guilty of hyper-critiquing even the things I enjoy. But this year was eye opening for me. There’s a perspective and newfound objectivity that comes with being on television. Suddenly you’re privy to so many things that influence so many other things that the average person will never have to think about, much less understand. It gives you a better understanding of a world that by most standards makes no sense at all. It becomes harder to criticize when you’ve been unfairly criticized. I thought about this a lot this summer as I decided who this experience would teach me to become.
Most noticeably, I couldn’t ignore that we’ve devolved into an army unwilling to relax our cool long enough to just geek out and remember why any of this is so important to us in the first place. Forty-five minutes prior, this guy had me on my feet, eyes closed, palms in the air singing my heart out to ‘Too Much’. And it felt great. It reminded me of being in high school, getting concert tickets in exchange for grades, of waiting all month for the show to come and then talking about it with my friends for months after. Suddenly, Jaden’s hilarious VMA pose didn’t seem so ridiculous.
In hindsight, I probably looked hilariously crazy. My home girl had never seen me so quiet. But even at my most awkward, Drake handled my silence graciously, eventually asking if we could take a picture – which honestly hadn’t even occurred to me.
I believe firmly in the roundness of life, cycles that signal the end of current lessons and the beginning of new ones. I’ve had an amazing last eighteen months. But I’d become bored, with even the privileges. And then along came an artist I dug who actually delivered. Such a simple thing that has become so rare.
You made me nervous Drizzy. Thank you. I needed that.
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By Paulo Coelho