Houston Appreciates Drake

Brandon Caldwell | 6/19/2014, 9:54 a.m. | Updated on 6/19/2014, 9:54 a.m.
Drake loves Houston and the city loves him right back. The love fest also known as Houston Appreciation Weekend (HAW) ...

Drake loves Houston and the city loves him right back. The love fest also known as Houston Appreciation Weekend (HAW) kicked off this past weekend as rapper Drake showed his gratitude for the city that gave him so much with a 3-day celebration.

Drake kicked off the weekend event with an appearance at Minute Maid Park, where he hosted 50 kids from the Astros Urban Youth and RBI program for a meet-and-greet. Drake provided the kids with dinner and tickets to the game. Prior to the start of the game between the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamond backs, Drake addressed the crowd saying, “Houston is really important to me… I have it tattooed on my skin and in my heart,” said Drake. After Drake addressed the crowd, he was awarded a proclamation claiming June 12th Drake Day.

In addition, Drake held a free concert and a charity basketball game. He teamed up with Rockcorps, an organization that allows you to give four hours of community in exchange for a free concert ticket. Volunteering with this organization was the only way to attend Drake’s performance.

It’s one thing to see Drake pull off a “with friends” show. It’s another to see him re-create the Houston rap landmark in the Screwed Up Records & Tapes shop and allow Houston legends such as Lil Keke, ESG (“Swang & Bang”, Yungstar (“June 27″), Trae Tha Truth (H.A.W.K.’s verse on “Swang”), Slim Thug & even Lil Flip (“The Way We Ball”) of all people perform their tracks and get their own bit of shine. Even Slim could have felt overwhelmed by it all by mixing up his “Before Da Kappa” freestyle and the “3 Kings” version he used for his Already Platinum album. It literally felt like a mosh pit, a sweaty oasis of faded SUC glory with dashes of the Northside tossed in.

For two and a half hours, we revisited his entire career up to this point. We sat back and swayed to So Far Gone material, “Bria’s Interlude” & “A Night Off” making it seem like we all had personal missions to run back home to our significant others to finish a job. The Thank Me Later arc, complete with those insane lighting aspects for “Over”, “Show Me A Good Time” and more caused more pushing, more shoving and undercover HPD and security to arrive to breakup a protest mid-show.

When you’ve got some 40+ tracks to cover, you’re going to slip. Drake, for all of his rehearsal and practice (no pun intended) did so during “Find Your Love” but regained footing around a performance of a reggae song.

We long cracked jokes about his singing but he’s far too confident to sit back and let it get to him now. This isn’t 2010 Drake. The 2014 version is a cocksure monster with a toothy grin who knows he can’t do wrong.

Every loosie, every song that had pulsated and pushed around in our heads through the course of his five (okay, seven) year career was unleashed. He delivered anecdotes about how “Marvin’s Room” cost him a lot of money due to a lawsuit, but didn’t mention how minor pettiness over Rihanna’s “Take Care” feature (and their breakup) led him to play the entire song cutting her parts. Everyone got a slice of the fun, including guests Tinashe (I almost proposed, Twitter knows this), Travi$ Scott, Wiz Khalifa, YG & Big Sean, whose verse on “All Me” from Nothing Was The Same damn near incited a riot.

There were teases, plenty of them throughout the night. People guessed Nicki Minaj would show up for “Up All Night”, that Bun B would drop his Gumball activities to join him for “Miss Me”, that Lil Wayne would appear at least for “Believe Me” near the end of the show. None of that came to pass, even if we enjoyed getting a Z-Ro “Mo City Don” freestyle before closing with “November 18th”.

Houston Appreciation Weekend now has things to live up to.

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