6:55 PM Just ran into Karla Moy AKA @hustlegrl and @DJFolk on the way backstage for #OVOFest. A lot of people are lined up outside, 40 just pulled up in his Mercedes, and Future the Prince is bouncing around the parking lot. People are talking about all the surprise guests. Hint: one is a Bawse.
7:26 PM Francis & the Lights are getting ready to hit the stage in a few minutes. The band is loose and relaxed (“Let’s hit it,” Francis is saying). Drake told @RealSway that he likes to get to the show early enough to see Francis perform. He’s a big fan of his writing. Francis is set to perform in New York next week and we’ll be in the house to talk to him. Send any questions for him to @MTVRapFix.
7:36 PM The man of the hour just arrived backstage with Bun B, Ozone’s Julia Beverly, Rap Radar’s Elliott Wilson, and Niko. Drake snapped a few photos with fans and chatted them up. The October’s Very Own team is sporting their OVO jackets and smiles. This is a huge day for them.
8:16 PM Bun B just blazed the stage with a combo of his own collection and UGK hits, including “Big Pimpin’.” Hot 97’s Cipha Sounds and DJ JUAN.Y.TO are manning the turntables and keeping the crowd in tune. Drake told me during our interview a few minutes ago (when he overheard Francis & the Lights and later Bun) that he wishes he could just watch the show. Drizzy is excited but focused. He’s got a major show to deliver. Stay tuned….
8:37 PM Rick Ross just stepped in the building. He and his crew smelled like the bakery to quote the Boss’ little homie, Wiz Khalifa. The Teflon Don was supposed to be a surprise guest but he’s been tweeting his whereabouts since he landed in Toronto yesterday. Oh well. Another hint for yet another surprise guest: There is no competition.
8:54 PM Young Jeezy is heading to the stage right now. The announcer just told the audience. The crowd is going bonkers. One kid from the meet and greet earlier told Drake that he was so excited to see Jeezy tonight. Then he caught himself and said, ‘Wait, I really wanna see you tonight, too!’ Drake was a great sport and told him how much he likes the Snowman as well. “Let’s get it, Shawty,” Jeezy said. Then he kicked his remix verse to Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know.”
9:12 PM Young Jeezy is smashing his set, “Go Crazy” is ringing throughout the Toronto sky. Doug E. Fresh is backstage, so is Trey Songz, Kardinal Offishall, Cipha Sounds and Mack Maine. We just got done interviewing Bun B., a favorite of the 1515 Boys and extended family to most. He said he’s working on getting Drake to do a video with him for “Put it Down.” Mr. OVO is due up next. Get ready….
9:37 PM Drake is on like the opposite of off. The man of the evening kick started things with “9AM in Dallas Freestyle,” before a transition into “Up All Night” and now he’s spitting “Unstoppable” from So Far Gone. The backstage area is PACKED. Fabolous, Trey Songz, and Cipha Sounds are all back here taking in the show. The cheers are piercing our ears.
9:43 PM We’re backstage about to talk to Young Jeezy while Drake continues to perform. “Show Me a Good Time” is blasting from outside and (spoiler alert!) Loso is getting ready to join Drizzy in a few minutes for the “Throw it in the Bag” remix. The Caribana effect is in full force, flags and plenty of Caribbean folks in the audience. Brooklyn is always in the house, so everyone should get ready to cover their ears when Fab runs out on stage.
9:57 PM Drake just pulled off a multi-culti guest spot with Rick Ross and Kardinal Offishall joining him on stage. Minutes later the Boss passed us in the backstage area and had an extra bop in his step like he won the championship. If you saw who he was with (sorry, can’t let that one out the bag just yet…) you’d understand him having a World Series attitude.
10:24 PM Drake slowed things down a bit for the moment with “A Night Off.” The crowd is still in tune with him. He’s going from bangers to ballads and back. The opening of “Unforgettable” is booming through the speakers. Young Jeezy is walking down the stairs backstage. He’s about to put on for Drizzy’s city. All white everything, of course. *Jeezy laugh* Haha!
10:51 PM Ever the showman, Drake turned the house lights on in the venue so he could see and talk to the ladies. He appreciates them all, is the paraphrased translation. Then, of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without this little song he has for ‘em called “Best I Ever Had.”
10:42 PM We watched part of the show with Young Jeezy right after he stepped off the stage doing “Unforgettable” with Drake. “I didn’t know it was gonna be like THIS,” he told us. The crowd went crazy for the Snowman both times he went on, for his set and when he joined Drizzy. “I love it anytime I can use my passport to go somewhere and still get the love from the hood,” Jeezy said.
10:59 PM Arena erupted. The loudest cheers of the night by far, as Eminem joined Drake on stage for his verse on “Forever.” Slim Shady kicked the rapid fire flow, decked out in all black everything. He disappeared as quickly as he arrived. But Toronto showed their appreciation for every second Em was on stage. Things are heating up. There’s another surprise up next.
11:02 PM Just when things couldn’t climb another decibel, Drake takes it up one more level (on top of nose bleeds, as J.Cole would say) by bringing out Brooklyn’s finest. Jay-Z joined the Toronto upstart on stage for “Run this Town” and true to Drizzy’s word, he told me on Friday that Hov would spit a new verse to the track during the show. Jay delivered like Karl Malone in the paint. (Update: Jay-Z didn’t debut a new verse to “Run This Town;” the crowd was so loud amid the excitement it felt like something unique was happening. Guess that’s why he’s the “Hottest MC in the Game.”
11:12 PM It’s only fitting: Drake is closing things out with “Over.” The lyrics are eerily prescient at this moment. “I swear it feels like the last few nights we been everywhere and back, but I just can’t remember it all,” Drake raps over the triumphant strings. “What am I doing, what am I doing, Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m doing me.” He’s speaking to the crowd to say his goodbye: “I love this city with my entire life,” he’s telling the crowd as they cheer with thunder.