Published Jan 30, 2012The rapid rise of Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky from virtual unknown to outsider icon in less than a year is equally commendable and somewhat puzzling, especially given the notably morose and smoked-out sonics of his lone LiveLoveA$AP mixtape. That the crafty MC's laid-back, Houston-meets-NYC aesthetic has caught fire with his ever-expanding legion of ravenous fans, however, is undeniable, as evidenced not only by the sellout crowd that greeted him at Toronto's spacious Opera House, but by his unexpected lockdown of a much-coveted opening spot on Drake's upcoming tour.
Still, all the internet hype in the world is no guarantee of a strong in-person performance, and it was left to be seen whether or not Rocky could elevate the hazy, chemical-afflicted energy of his recordings in the live arena.
There was palpable feeling of anticipation floating throughout the cavernous, two-tiered venue and could be seen in the many faces of the diverse crowd. And it wasn't long before Rocky strode confidently to the centre of all attention, with the remarkably charismatic main attraction launching into a set that would have hands in the air from open to encore.
Cuts like "Wassup," "Get Lit" "Peso" and "Bass" (a track that, despite its name, contains surprisingly little) had fans rapping along with arms swaying to the beat throughout, with Rocky showing some admirable stage skills for such a relatively new artist while confidently engaging the faithful at every turn. But it was a rather off-the-cuff introduction of the night's special guest -- none other than hometown hero Drake -- that truly brought the fans to their knees before quickly springing them right back up to the ceiling as one of the hottest MCs in the game tore into animated renditions of "Cameras" and "The Motto." That the Toronto native would bless his soon-to-be tourmate with some onstage presence wasn't entirely surprising, but it did prove to be the icing on a cake that was already placating the room's collective sweet tooth even without the contribution.
With the night's moment of climax out of the way, Rocky reclaimed the reins and quickly wound down what was a brief yet satisfying set, returning to the stage for a one-song encore before vanishing into the night, leaving the audience to face what was unquestionably the event's sole moment of discontent -- coat check.