Thank Me Later

Drake Brings “Club Paradise” tour to Riverbend Music Center

By Alan Sculley

Drake begins his “Club Paradise” tour knowing that headlining what looks to be the summer’s biggest R&B/hip-hop tour means that this is more than doing a show for his fans. It’s a responsibility.

“I hope that they’ll look at the production, look at the artists’ lineups, really look at the night from front to back and say, wow, Drake came in here and it wasn’t about the check. And it’s definitely not about the check for me,” he said in a late-April teleconference interview. “It’s about the experience. If the city isn’t talking about it, you know, five, six, seven days later, or, you know, if people don’t remember it for years to come, then I haven’t done my job.”

The package for the tour features special guest J. Cole, along with an undercard full of rising stars — Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and French Montana — that Drake said he expects to make an impression on the tour.

“You’ve got a great array of performers and you definitely have an exciting night,” he said.

What Drake also likes about the lineup is the musical variety the artists will bring to the stage.

“You’ve got a lot of different elements of hip-hop music,” he said, “Even with myself, you get, obviously, a flipside of singing and melody and (R&B), and so I was really just trying to cover all bases and bring the most exciting young refreshing acts to the stage all together in one place, one night.”

Drake, actually can be considered a young artist himself, even though he has been making major waves for six years now.

Now 25, he emerged in 2006 as a series of his mixtapes starting finding an audience. His big break came a year later, when his laid-back song, “Replacement Girl” (featuring Trey Songz), got major exposure on the BET cable network.

This began a series of guest appearances on tracks, mixtapes and remixes that continued to build the buzz and had record labels competing for his talents, with Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Motown winning out. (Young Money is Lil Wayne’s label.)

Just before signing his deal, he self-released a single, “Best I Ever Had” (from what would become his popular mixtape, “So Far Gone”) and watched the track top “Billboard” magazine’s “Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

His debut CD, Thank Me Later, accelerated the momentum. Stylistically, it followed the lead of “Replacement Girl,” favoring deliberate – sometimes even slow – tempos and rapping and singing often in a laconic manner.

Thank Me Later topped “Billboard’s” “Rap” and “Hot R&B/Hip-Hop” album charts. The CD went on to spawn a pair of number one rap singles and overall, Drake had his name on 30 different songs that charted on the “Billboard” all-genre “Hot 100” singles chart.

These chart performances made Drake the most successful artist on the charts in the two years leading up to the November 2011 release of the second CD, Take Care.

That critically acclaimed CD has been another blockbuster, debuting at number one on the all-genre “Billboard 200” album chart and so far topping 1.5 million copies sold. The songs “Make Me Proud,” “Take Care” and “Headlines” were multi-chart hits, and Drake’s latest single, “The Motto” (featuring Lil Wayne) has just taken the top spot on the “Billboard” “Rap Songs” chart.

Drake is already starting to think ahead to his third CD. He looks back at Take Care as a CD that lyrically captured him in a period of transition.

“A lot of it’s down (tempo) and I think a lot of that had to do with being back home in Toronto and just trying to, like, get re-acquainted with a life that I had before, you know, and the difficulties with that, but at the same time, trying to express excitement and trying to express joy and trying to express all.”

Things are different now, Drake said.

“I’m in a different mindset now that I’m very proud of,” he said. “Also, with the atmosphere change of me recently moving, relocating to L.A — of course I still live in Toronto and love the city — but there’s just so much going on for me in the U.S. that I’ve recently made the move to L.A. So it’s new atmosphere, getting to know new people. It’s going to be a very interesting (third) album, definitely, definitely.”

The next album, though, figures to be a ways off in the future. At this point Drake is in touring mode. And he hopes fans will prepare for their city’s “Club Paradise” date as more than just a concert. He’s hoping they’ll make it an event.

“I want people to make it a day,” he said. “You eat lunch, you make sure you’re well fed, you know, and you start drinking early. And you start having fun early, and you come see your favorite acts, and we’ll go all the way from 6 p.m. to 11:00 together.  That’s kind of what’s different about it. It’s a longer experience, you know, to me. It’s a full day experience, which I think is great. I think it’s great especially for summertime.”

Drake will bring his “Club Paradise” tour to Riverbend Music Center on Wednesday, June 6. Also on the bill are Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and French Montana and Wocka Flocka Flame. For more information on tickets, visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at

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