I am in my mid to late 30s so to say I’m not acquainted with hip-hop and rap is to say that I have become exactly what the Who railed against in “My Generation”. So as I traversed the wet streets of San Francisco into Oakland last night to the Oracle Arena to see three artists that I’ve heard of, but was very unfamiliar with.
The headliner was Drake who most people old and young at least know by name and even some by sight. Miguel the main opener is slightly less notable to the older crowd but still well known among the kids. Future I had heard only because of his criticism of Drake and the possibility that he wasn’t going to be on the tour at all. This is my frame of reference. I am not old by conventional societal standards, but musically I am ancient.
First on the stage was Party something or other. I really am not sure of the name, but the act was interesting and it only lasted for 15 minutes so basically it was akin to the comedian at the taping of a game show, there to warm up the audience. Next up was Future who reminded me a bit of Kendrick LaMar. He was a little rough around the edges, not polished and definitely had a street vibe to him, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He has yet to be sanitized by the music machine and I find that to be commendable as the music machine is oh so soul sucking.
Let’s talk a little bit about the crowd. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a hip-hop show, I’m not sure I ever have been. So last night was one of my first experiences with the crowd and I loved them, all of them. Now, lest I be accused of thinly veiled references towards race there were Hispanics, Whites, Blacks, Arabs, Asians and anything else you could think of there. The crowd was mostly young and there to have a good time. In between sets the DJ was playing classic Biggie, Tupac and a little Jay-Z/Kanye among others and the crowd was literally dancing in the aisles. It was amazing! At the rock shows I usually attend this would be the time to get up and go mingle while talking about all things hipster, but this crowd was in the mood to move and what a glorious time they had.
Up next was Miguel an artist that is best described as Prince-like. Prince as in the artist formerly and also now known again as Prince. Yeah that guy. Miguel came out and blew the doors off the place. He moved about the stage with a ferocity rarely seen anymore, except maybe by Justin Timberlake. I couldn’t tell you the names of the songs, but man could he sing the shit out of them. What a talent. He was cocky in the way an artist should be and the kind of performer one wants to see when they pay their good money to see a show of this magnitude.
Finally, was Drake, the man they all came to see and he didn’t disappoint. He came up through an elevator type mechanism onto the stage with an orchestra pit inside of a circular object he circled like a fighter. He rapped with style and energy and unlike any other performer previously knew how to work the crowd into a frenzy. The ladies were screaming for him so loud that at one point I had to put in ear plugs for fear of high pitched sounds deafening me even further. He was a performer in the truest sense of the word. An extraordinarily talented individual that I’m glad to have seen.
Every one that I met from the staff to the crowd was phenomenal. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes of these shows and to be treated in such a fantastic manner goes to show the generosity and the level of professionalism that can still be had in this ever changing musical landscape. Last night was a night I will not soon forget. As someone that had no frame of reference going into the show I now feel I can call myself a fan of Drake, Miguel and Future. A talented trio that I was lucky to see.