Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Kanye West and Drake put on a show full of historic hip-hop moments at the ‘Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert’

Hip-hop icons Kanye West and Drake put on a concert full of memorable moments in support of freeing Larry Hoover with some of the proceeds going to charities and prison-reform organizations.

A still image of pop culture icon, Kanye West.

Kanye West, and Drake emerged from billows of smoke through the iconic arches of the Los Angeles Coliseum. The two rap icons slowly descended shoulder to shoulder down the giant stairs, marking a reunion of historic sorts. The soundtrack to their entrance was a combination of thundering cheers from a sold-out crowd and angelic vocals from Kanye’s Sunday Service Choir. The generational superstars had officially ended their multi-year, very public, feud.

However, on this night they put it all aside to create a historic moment that hip-hop fans will never forget. Kanye took the stage first and came out with a fire and hunger in his rap that had seemingly been missing for nearly a decade.

Kanye, who recently changed his legal name to Ye, and Drake continued walking across the football field turned concert venue all the way to the giant stage in the middle, which looked like a ship from outer space. The spectacular production was rumored to cost more than $10 million, which included camera operators who looked like astronauts and high-tech machinery that helped Amazon Prime broadcast the live performance to millions around the world.

After warming up the audience with “Praise God,” Ye readied the crowd.

“Let’s take it back to day one,” he exclaimed.

The crowd’s cheers rained down as he launched into “Jesus Walks,” his first global hit from his well-known debut album, “The College Dropout.” He quickly transitioned into “All Falls Down,” another fan favorite from the rapper’s first album.

Rather than making speeches with strange remarks about running for president or some other controversial topic, Ye came out with energy, joy and poise that hadn’t been seen in years.

This seemed almost too good to be true and that Kanye was bound to launch into his newer material, but he kept pumping out the classics and reminding fans of his legendary status. He then did two tracks from his sophomore album, “Late Registration.” The mini-set consisted of the always crowd-pleasing “Gold Digger,” followed immediately by another classic, “Touch the Sky,” both of which he hadn’t performed live since 2016.

Ye was flexing the depth of his discography on this night as he was clearly out to remind fans why he became so beloved in the first place despite his tendency to attract controversy. For one night at least the old Kanye, a refreshing breath of down-to-earth air amidst gangster rap ruling the airwaves when he debuted in 2004, had returned as he closed out the mini-set of his original trio of albums by playing “Stronger” off of “Graduation,” also for the first time since 2016.

Ye moved from album to album with ease, in large part due to his undeniably strong catalog of music. He bounced from “All of the Lights,” to “Black Skinhead” to “Good Life,” well-known hits from their respective albums. His energy was noticeably high as he ran from side to side on stage, even taking moments to dance as he rapped every word.

After almost 45 minutes of performing hit after hit, Ye did the unexpected. He sang an impressive memorable cover of “Find Your Love,” a song he co-wrote and co-produced in 2010 for Drake. Not only was this a surprising treat for fans, but it also served as an appetizer to prepare fans for the Canadian superstar’s turn to take the stage.

A few songs later during “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” Drake finally made his long-awaited appearance, as he and Ye simultaneously embraced one another and hyped up the crowd. It was a surreal feeling to see the two back together in such a grandiose way. Drake took the baton from his running mate and started his set by covering “24,” a slower cut from Ye’s tenth studio album, “Donda.”

Rather than follow Ye’s lead and perform the music that led to his success, Drake elected to showcase songs from his most recent musical installments. He began his night with “Wants and Needs” and “Life is Good,” before quickly moving into his newest album, “Certified Lover Boy.” During his initial moments in front of the crowd, it seemed the whole crowd maintained a lower level of engagement than that of Ye’s. However, he kept the crowd entertained by emphasizing the historic nature of the night and the surreal feeling of being able to take part in this larger-than-life event with one of his idols.

The Toronto native closed out with the infectious chorus that accompanied “Laugh Now, Cry Later” and “Knife Talk.” Drake had a great setlist, but with such a deep catalog he could have chosen more fitting songs on a night of such magnitude. That being said, Drake knows how to work a crowd better than most artists and ended his time with “God’s Plan” a more than fitting send-off. As the crowd uttered every word, the man of the night returned.

Ye picked back up right where he left off, this time with songs from the latter half of his career.

“LA we ain’t got too much more time with you tonight,” Ye said as the instrumental to “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1″ lurked underneath his vocals.

“So we’re gonna keep this coming back to back to back.”

Ye kept his promise as he ran through songs from “The Life of Pablo,” “Watch the Throne” and “Donda.” Most notably of these final moments was when Ye hilariously danced around the stage as The Weeknd’s glorious vocals from “Hurricane” played in the background. This was the live debut of the Grammy-nominated track and it sounded even better than the recorded version.

Somehow the best was yet to come. Ye brought out Drake one more time to rap their modern-day classic, “Forever.” The two went back and forth trading verses as the crowd’s energy was at its highest. The 2009 posse cut was the most climactic moment of the entire two-hour performance and ended the show with a bang.

As the instrumental died down and Mike Dean took control, they acknowledged each other one final time.

“Kanye, he forever man,” riffed Drake.

“Drizzy, he forever man,” Ye responded.

Shortly after this, the two legendary artists walked into the proverbial sunset as the Coliseum flame still burned bright, smoke filled the air and thousands of fans stood in awe of what they just witnessed.