Started from the bottom, now he’s here

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Doctors told him to rest, but who can when you’re one of the hottest hip-hop artists in the game?

This past Thursday, Drake and Future’s “Summer Sixteen” tour proved that like a sprained ankle, this Toronto native ain’t nothing to play with.

When news broke earlier in the day that “Champagnepapi” was postponing his future dates due to an ankle injury, like many Chicago fans, my heart sunk. The rapper was making his last stop in Chicago, for his tour off his latest album “Views,” that day.

Sporting a Bulls jersey, the Toronto rapper expressed his joy to be back in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Jesus J. Montero/Ruby Hornet)

Sporting a Bulls jersey, the Toronto rapper expressed his joy to be back in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Jesus J. Montero/Ruby Hornet)

Fans had been waiting for his anticipated return after the announcement that additional dates in Chicago had been added. For those that didn’t get to see the rapper this past spring, this was their last chance before he takes a break to work on new music. As I scrolled to check the cities that had been cancelled, I sent up a prayer to the “6 God” that Chicago would remain.  To say that my prayers were answered would be an understatement.

One couldn’t even notice the bandaged leg, due to the electrifying performances from both Drake and Future.  Fans were treated to sets of chart-topping tracks off the albums, “Views,” “What A Time To Be Alive” and “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.”  However, the party didn’t stop there, as both artists performed classics that were nostalgic for any die-hard fan.

When you weren’t belting out all the lyrics to “Child’s Play” or moving your hips to “Controlla,” your eyes were mesmerized by a canopy of glowing balloons that changed colors depending on the song. “Hotline Bling” transformed the United Center to a soft pink, while “Hold On, We’re Going Home” had the arena surrounded by a breathtaking blue atmosphere with an added bonus; Drake floating towards you on an ascended platform.

After postponing a handful of tour dates the night before due to an ankle injury, Drake performed at the United Center last Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Donyae Lewis)

After postponing a handful of tour dates the night before due to an ankle injury, Drake performed at the United Center last Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Donyae Lewis)

This was more than just a venue filled with great music and impressive visual aesthetics.  What made this concert experience unlike any other rapper I’ve seen, is the charismatic personality that Drake animatedly possessed.

The rapper is constantly critiqued in the media for being too soft for mainstream hip-hop and having a ghostwriter to heighten his street cred. However, to critics’ dismay, this demeanor is what made the night special. After almost every number he would scream into the audience, “Chicago make some noise for yourself.”

Throughout the night he flooded compliments to fans rocking Chicago and Canadian attire, while sporting his own Chicago Bulls jersey.

He joked with us like we were his close friends, making a note that he appreciated you whether you bought a ticket or finessed yourself into the venue.

He serenaded ladies with exclusive tracks, but showed appreciation with his banter on-stage, wishing one special woman in the first few rows a “happy birthday.”

He made sure not to leave his rumored girlfriend Rihanna out of the mix by giving her praise before leading into their songs together (sadly, the pop diva was absent from the night’s festivities).

As the music played to a slowed-down rendition of “Legend,” the rapper took the time to give his condolences to the tough times we were witnessing, both in America and Chicago. He reminded the audience to think of the celebration we had with one another that night, and to know the happiness we shared is possible for our world.

Drake is known for making people get into their feelings. So, it was no surprise when I got off that emotional rollercoaster Thursday evening, I was spent. A lot resonated with me that night, but I continue to go back to that message of peace during his last number.

Drake has given me a handful of memories with every song and album he has created, but that night he gave me a chance to let go and let music guide me.  For that, I will be forever grateful.