Drake Rhymes, Crowd Swoons

Drake's intriguing concert — with sexy antics — has audience all worked up

Drake's intriguing concert - with sexy antics - has audience worked up

Drake Toyota Center 2013
The audience sang every lyric in between near-constant screams that got only louder when Drake stripped down to a tank top. Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake rocked the Toyota Center with a two-hour performance packed with new material. Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake in concert. Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
The show kicked off with the Nothing Was opener "Tuscan Leather," a bold choice considering the track's murky tempo and complete lack of chorus.  Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
The Canadian rapper performed nearly all the songs from his latest LP along with classic early tracks and covers. Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake rocked the Toyota Center with a two-hour performance packed with new material.   Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake rocked the Toyota Center with a two-hour performance packed with new material. Photo by Chinh Phan
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake Toyota Center 2013
Drake Toyota Center 2013

Drake continued his reign as one of hip hop's most enigmatic figures Wednesday night at the Toyota Center, offering an intriguing two-hour performance that focused on new material from the artist's moody Nothing Was the Same album.

As a child of the '90s reared on gangsta icons like Biggie and Tupac, I freely admit that the Canadian actor-turned-rapper has totally confused me since he first appeared with the catchy 2009 hit "Best I Ever Had." While I've loved him as popular Jimmy Brooks on the legendary teen drama Degrassi High, it's still hard not to giggle a bit when he shouts out, "Ghostface Killah."

But maybe I finally need to get over that. Surely that's what the packed house at the Toyota Center would have said.

 The rapper's new album is jam-packed with Houston references, a recognition not lost on an audience that sang every lyric in between near-constant screams.

 Wednesday's show kicked off with the Nothing Was opener "Tuscan Leather," a bold choice considering the track's murky tempo and complete lack of chorus. Amazingly, the crowd — which erupted in Beatles-style screams at the first sight of Drake — nearly drowned out the entire song as well as the follow-ups, which I think were "Headlines" and "Crew Love" from 2011's Take Care.

The rapper's new album is jam-packed with Houston references (click here for a comprehensive list from Bayou City music writer Brando), a recognition not lost on an audience that sang every lyric in between near-constant screams . . . which got only louder when Drake stripped down to a tank top.

The crowd calmed itself for excellent duets with R&B singer Jhené Aiko and Atlanta hip hop artist Future, who performed as an opening act along with neo soul singer Miguel.

After taking a break during a brief DJ set from the band, Drake re-emerged through a haze of thick smoke for the summer 2013 hit "Hold On, We're Going Home," which proved the night's most memorable song thanks to a surprised fan (and mother of four) lucky enough to join the rapper onstage.

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