With his extensive catalog, grandiose production, and 21 Savage by his side, Drake captivated in Charlotte

By Amina Kane

September 26, 2023

It’s been five years since Drake embarked on a U.S. tour. However, there’s no better way to mark his nearly two-decade-long career than with a night dedicated to celebrating his fans. After releasing the chart-topping Her Loss with 21 Savage last year, it felt only fitting for the pair to tour together. On their second night in Charlotte at Spectrum Center, doors opened at 7:00 p.m. to a flood of eager fans anticipating a night to remember. 

British rapper Central Cee took the stage first to kick off the show, performing his chart-topping hits like “Doja.” After Central Cee exited the stage, the DJ took over, spinning tracks that ignited a wave of emotions in the crowd. 

At approximately 9:42 p.m. the crowd erupted in cheers as Drake, joined by his right-hand man Chubbs, made his grand entrance. The soulful strains of “Look What You’ve Done” from his classic Take Care album filled the arena. The house lights dimmed and a spotlight illuminated the center of the stage where a younger version of Aubrey Graham (Drake) sat on an orange leather couch acting out a childhood scene. Drake then disappeared and the younger version of him sat up in the bed with a white comforter, casually flipping through television channels. The theme song to the ‘90s sitcom Family Matters played with the show’s intro displayed on the jumbotron. Young Drake flipped to the next channel, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air appeared, and the crowd enthusiastically rapped along to the lyrics of the theme song. Next, he flipped to the show where it all began– Degrassi: The Next Generation. As the jumbotron abruptly went black, young Drake placed the comforter over his head, and a floating Peter Pan prop emerged, gliding eerily over young Drake. With a sea of phone flashes illuminating the arena, Drake reappeared on stage, launching into “Over” from 2010’s Thank Me Later

In the first half of the show, Drake captivated the Charlotte audience with a sensational medley of his chart-topping hits. The performance started with “Headlines” from Take Care, and the stage was bathed in warm red lights. Yet, there was a hidden layer of intrigue waiting to be unveiled. Gleaming on the screen behind Drake were some petty headlines taking shots at some of his foes, sparking some laughter. Drake ignited the stage with “HYFR,” as a U.F.O. with vivid green lighting soared above him. As the chorus beckoned, Drake encouraged the crowd to join in: “Charlotte, this is your part, don’t play.”

The Toronto artist then flipped the atmosphere with “Nonstop,” as the stage was shrouded in purple smoke. As the beat dropped, beams of white light punctuated the rhythm, elevating the performance. When Drake reached the iconic line, “This a Rollie, not a stopwatch,  s**t don’t never stop,” the house lights dimmed, plunging the arena into the darkness, saved only by the phone lights. Drake then launched into “SICKO MODE,” performing his rendition of the 2018 banger featuring Travis Scott. Naturally, the crowd went wild. 

Following “God’s Plan,” a devoted fan’s sign grabbed his attention: “I flew here from Denver by myself. I don’t care, I’m not missing the G.O.A.T.” Drake announced he would fly the concertgoer home and gift them $10,000, mirroring the generosity depicted in the “God’s Plan” music video. He then shared a heartfelt message, emphasizing the importance of demonstrating compassion for others. He urged the crowd to turn to strangers and share a hug, handshake, or compliment to spread love throughout the arena. 

Just before transitioning to the Grammy Award-winning hit, “Wait for U,” a heartwarming picture of Adonis (Drake’s son) holding a basketball made an appearance on the jumbotron. During “In My Feelings” and “Nice for What” from 2018’s Scorpion, the stage featured television sets positioned diagonally on opposite sides, showcasing various TV and movie clips from the early 2000s.

Drake transitioned from the main stage to the side platform where he and his DJ Future the Prince turned the arena into Club Drake. Before taking a celebratory shot with the crowd, he expressed his love for the Queen City, reminiscing about performing during CIAA weekend a decade ago. He genuinely thanked the city for hosting his two sold-out shows, giving props to the Hornets’ LaMelo Ball, his son’s favorite basketball player. Drake also showed love to North Carolina legend J. Cole, acknowledging him as a real G.O.A.T., hinting at an exciting collaboration in the future. The night continued with Drake performing crowd-pleasers like “Controlla” from Views and hits like “Massive” and “Sticky” from 2022’s Honestly, Nevermind. 


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At 11:05 p.m., 21 Savage entered the arena, embracing fans on his way to the stage, kicking off his set with the 2016 single, “Red Opps.” Next was “Who Want Smoke??” with a “D.A.R.E. To Test Slaughter Gang” graphic on the jumbotron, reminiscent of the D.A.R.E. posters that once graced our schools. 21 Savage then took the crowd down memory lane with the 2018 Post Malone collab hit “rockstar.” 

The energy in the arena surged as 21 Savage performed his last three Metro Boomin-produced tracks: “X” from 2016’s Savage Mode, “Runnin” from 2020’s Savage Mode II, and 2017’s “Bank Account.” 

Drake and 21 Savage joined forces to deliver their collab, “Knife Talk,” from Drake’s 2021 Certified Lover Boy. During “Jimmy Cooks,” a striking A.I. visual mocking Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour, appeared on the screen. The magazine’s publisher Condé Nast sued Drake and 21 in 2022 after they created a fake Vogue cover to promote Her Loss. “21, can you do something for me?,” Drake sang for “Rich Flex,” their last duo performance of the night. 

It was evident that Drake, with his extensive catalog, has solidified his position as one of the prominent artists of this decade. With consecutive sold-out arena shows in Charlotte, unwavering fan support, and a remarkable visual production, there are many that would welcome him back to the city for whatever special he might have planned with J. Cole. 


Set 1:
Look What You’ve Done
Marvins Room
Say Something
Shot for Me
Can I
Feel No Ways
The Motto
Started From the Bottom
Know Yourself
Way 2 Sexy
Middle of the Ocean
Laugh Now Cry Later
God’s Plan
Pound Cake
Childs Play
In My Feelings
Nice for What


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Set 2: with DJ
Too Good
Find Your Love
Hold On, We’re Going Home
Work (Rihanna cover)
One Dance
Calling My Name
Search & Rescue

Set 3: with 21 Savage
Knife Talk
Spin Bout U
Hours in Silence
Jimmy Cooks
Rich Flex

The Ride
Get Along Better

21 Savage setlist:

Red Opps
Peaches & Eggplants
Don’t Come Out the House
10 Freaky Girls
Who Want Smoke??
Play Video
a lot
Mr. Right Now
Bank Account

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