Five things we learned at the Drake-hosted fifth annual OVO Fest, which took place on Sunday and Monday evenings, at Toronto’s ram-packed Molson Canadian Amphitheatre:
Drake is a wizard for getting Lauryn Hill to stage on time: The notoriously tardy former Fugee was the first unannounced guest to appear on Monday evening. When she began singing Killing Me Softly, it was just after 8:30 p.m., which is roughly the hour when Hill would normally be hitting an alarm-clock snooze button. It’s possible that Drake had craftily set all the backstage times forward a few hours, in adjustment to Hill’s own idiosyncratic body clock.
It’s Drake’s party and he can fly if he wants to: A regular part of Drake’s concerts involve a tedious segment in which the Started From the Bottom-rapper points out fans and friends in Romper Room fashion – “I see you” – as he’s transported around and over top of the audience. On Monday, during the corny fly-by, he asserted that “there’s not too many rappers who would get up here and do this.” Exactly, and thank god for that.
Drake’s fans are not Beliebers: During Drizzy’s headlining set on Monday, a parade of surprise guests popped up on stage as usual, including Trey Songz, J. Cole, Tinashe, YG, 50 Cent and G-Unit, and the aforementioned Hill. The biggest bolt from the blue was singer Usher, a known mentor to the scamp Justin Bieber. When the hit-making R&B smoothie mentioned Stratford, Ont., the hometown of pop music’s l'enfant terrible, the crowd murmured contemptuously, with some folks even booing outright.
Smoking bylaws went up in smoke: Whether from rolled weed, e-cigarettes or standard-issue tobacco, the accumulated cloud of smoke hovering over the audience almost matched the giant fog effects on stage.
Drake be a diplomat: Sunday’s headline act was the reunited Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast, while Monday’s final surprise guest was rapper 50 Cent and the reformed Queens-based crew G-Unit. As well, after a spot from his American rapper-pal J. Cole, Drake smoothed over a previous misunderstanding with the young L.A. hip hop star Kendrick Lamar, one of the biggest names yet to appear at OVO. On Monday, Drake allowed that in hip hop there were “many kings,” and that Lamar was one of the “hardest [African-Americans] alive.” Drake’s no vegetarian, but neither is he a fan of beefs.