Lil Wayne Wowed Toronto with a Surprise Guest — Yes, It's Who You Think It Is

History, April 12

Photo: Matt Forsythe

BY Vernon AyikuPublished Apr 13, 2023

Much like a Lil Wayne mixtape verse, it was hard to predict what exactly Toronto would get from the "best rapper alive" at his sold-out show at History. In true rockstar fashion, the show started way before the artist hit the stage, with the rowdy crowd collectively asking themselves all the same questions — "how late would he be? What songs would he play? Will Drake come out? Will Wayne be noticeably intoxicated? How intoxicated should I get? Will Drake come out? WILL DRAKE COME OUT?!"

Being trapped inside the theatre of your mind is part of the Lil Wayne live experience; capable of creating both the disappointment of the Young Money Reunion circa OVO Fest 2022 and an epic night out, the chaotic nature of Lil Wayne is part of his charm. And as hip-hop's only true rap-rockstar, the F in Weezy F Baby stood for fantastic on Wednesday night, as he gave Toronto a performance it'll remember forever.

First, to answer the most pressing question of the night — not only did Drake show up, he opened the damn show. At around 8:00 p.m. the lights cut out and a faceless voice announced, "Lil Wayne has so much love for the city of Toronto he is allowing a local Toronto artist to open up for him." Praying it wasn't Akintoye, a wave of excitement hit the room as Drake quietly walked, out singing "Marvin's Room" in one of the most surreal moments you'll ever see at a live show. Just another local Toronto artist for the night, Drake acknowledged this was the first time he'd performed on stage to an unfilled room at 8:00 p.m. in over 13 years. To his credit, he fully embraced his role as opener, giving the crowd a tight 30-minute set stuffed with hits like "Practice," "Jaded," SICKO MODE," "Nonstop" and "Rich Flex." All while constantly paying reverence to his mentor and "the most important person in his life," Lil Wayne.
The answer to the second most pressing question of the night ("What songs would Wayne perform?"), turned out to be "as many as humanly possible." Doing no more than a single verse from any one song, Weezy managed to fit all of his hits into one showstopping set. Making for an incredible trip down memory lane for OG fans, Wayne went from Tha Block Is Hot to Tha Carter series to his best mixtape verses to his most iconic features, all while never skipping a beat or forgetting a lyric. Truly, for anyone in the room witnessing the almost hour and a half set — and the increasingly loud crowd, as hit after hit after hit played — it was hard to argue with the moniker "best rapper alive." He only took a break for around 15 minutes to allow three newly signed Young Money artists to showcase a couple new songs before returning in a fresh black t-shirt to perform "6 Foot 7 Foot."

From there, the night went about as well as it could possibly go. Closing out the show, Drake returned to do "HYFR" and "Motto," leading into the grand finale of "A Milli." Noticeably missing from the setlist was "Got Money," which is Wayne's encore of choice according to Reddit accounts of other shows. However, the show was definitely over at 11:00 with "A Milli," with the Toronto crowd filing out immediately after Wayne thanked "the lord" and his fans, satisfied enough not to attempt an encore chant. 

If you've heard rumours online that Lil Wayne's live performance isn't up to snuff, chances are you were hearing it from someone who already wasn't a fan. Getting personal for a moment, at this point in my career I've seen countless shows — I've been more in awe than I was on Wednesday night exactly once, and that was at Jay-Z and Beyoncé's On the Run II tour at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. Lil Wayne can more than compete with the big dogs, you might just have to find out for yourself. 

With an all-time great surprise opening act, a perfectly intimate and gritty venue in History and a humongous catalogue to pull from, Lil Wayne's Toronto show was an all-time great night — it's one I'll likely never forget.

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