November 19, 2018
Migos grew up 30 miles from where they are playing the biggest show of their career. You wouldn’t know it by looking at them. The trio are consummate professionals that understand the music business for what it is. They invest in each other and their families. They try to stay out of trouble as much as possible these days, and focus on the music.
This attitude has paid off in dividends for the boys who met playing high school football. Their energy met trap music at high speeds. Their flows were oft-perceived as groundbreaking by fans and critics alike, and were certainly imitated in the years to come. Tonight, they are loose and amicable as they prepare to perform the first of three nights in their home state of Georgia to close out their biggest tour to date.
At 8:35 p.m., Migos take the stage. Make that 8:36 p.m.. DJ Durel drops his tag. They come out to “Supastars” and deliver the hook to “Hannah Montana” as well as “Handsome and Wealthy.” As the clock nears 9 p.m., they’ve just done “Slippery.” The auto-tuned mics are functioning at an all-time high. They’re all in different color jumpsuits: red, green, and yellow.
Every album by Drake after Nothing Was The Same has been marred by guiltless distraction in the form of rap beef. At times, I wonder if he feels like he just became famous again, because unlike so many of his peers, he has outgrown the tiny pocket of the music industry that is rap. He moves differently, comes on HBO to do a talk show with Lebron James, and breaks records that put him in the company of the Beatles. But tonight, Aubrey Graham, or Drake, needs a second. His work has allowed him to see much of this sprawling world, bringing music to millions of adoring fans in exchange for his trust, patience, breath and time. Exhausting himself on stage every night and walking away with the earnings is just part of the bigger picture. He was able to speak freely about his feelings and go on to make songs like “6God” and “Mob Ties.” Drake runs the emotive spectrum like a wizard on ice, and we find him here in Atlanta delivering his truth on night one of a tour-close-out run weekend in the heart of the Southern region of the United States — quite a far cry from his hometown of Toronto, Ontario.
He takes the stage at 10:15 p.m. to “8 Out Of 10.” A blue bra was thrown on the stage at 10:26 p.m.. Perhaps one of the most energetic runs of the night was “Can’t Take A Joke” into “Energy” into Atlanta’s prodigal son Lil Baby popping out for “Yes Indeed” and “Sold Out Dates.”
At 11 p.m., Migos take the stage again with “Narcos” and “Bad Bitches Only” with 21 Savage. 21 is in a red and white tracksuit. 21 has an older appearance, but his signature scowl is on full display. He seemed to phone parts of the performance in, but the song itself leaves little room for 21 to flex his musical dexterity.
Around 11:15 p.m., Drake takes the stage again, where he launches into Scorpion’s B Side, a collection of songs that are more down-tempo, including songs like “After Dark.” He delivers a riveting performance of “Peak,” “Don’t Matter To Me,” and “Jaded.” At the end of “Jaded,” he takes a light-hearted shot at the crowd, “in the meantime while [y’all] are sitting down during the sexy songs,” encouraging fans to keep singing and dancing, before going into “Controlla” and then “One Dance.”
Then, home footage of Drake as a youth starts to play on the big screen. Him at the airport, laying down in bed, at the bar, having a very intense conversation with Nicki Minaj, having a meal, in a tour bus, drinking out of his Grammy for Best Rap Album, boarding a jet, chest-bumping with Wayne, and more. The crowd went absolutely nuts for it. Oohing and ahhing ensued, and the crowd was able to relate to the artist seeing his childhood memories play like a home movie on the big screens.
This gives way to a magnetic transformation of the stage as it was made to look like a basketball court, upon which he performed the bounce hit “Nice For What.” We are in the waning stages of the night, but Drake isn’t done yet. He strikes lightning through songs like “In My Feelings,” “I’m Upset,” “Look Alive,” “Sicko Mode,” and “Nonstop.” He introduces a special guest: French Montana — who has ties to Atlanta due to being managed by Waka Flocka Flame’s mother in the early beginnings of his career — to perform their song “No Stylist.”
In all white, he launched into the ultimate anthem “God’s Plan” as all of the lights on stage activated and confetti falling as if a championship trophy was just awarded. He took a moment to soak in the reception and stopped on the designated stage platform, descending underneath the stage and to the tunnels that make up State Farm Arena, waving to the crowd for the first of three Atlanta nights before his tour concludes.