Drake was the mystery headliner at Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival on Sunday night. But the superstar rapper’s lukewarm reception led him to cut his surprise set shorter than he’d evidently planned.
Represented on the festival’s poster by a series of question marks, the closing performance slot had been the subject of feverish speculation in the days leading up to the annual event, which took place Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot surrounding Dodger Stadium. (Performers announced in advance included Tyler, Solange, YG, Juice WRLD, DaBaby, Earl Sweatshirt and FKA Twigs.)
Many fans expressed hope that Frank Ocean, Tyler’s onetime partner in the Los Angeles hip-hop crew Odd Future, would appear in concert for the first time since 2017. Instead, Tyler recruited Drake along with ASAP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert, each of whom quickly performed two songs before Drake took the stage and opened with his hit ‘Started From the Bottom’.
The Canadian artist, dressed in sweatpants and a puffy jacket over a vintage Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt, went on to string together snippets of several other tracks, including ‘Mob Ties’, ‘I’m Upset’, ‘Headlines’ and his and Gucci Mane’s ‘Both’.
Twenty minutes or so into his performance, he did a pair of relatively low-key tunes he said Tyler had requested — ‘Feel No Ways’ and ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ — but apparently found the crowd’s enthusiasm lacking.
“I’m here for you tonight,” he said. “If you wanna keep going, I will keep going tonight. What’s up?”
Here he paused, seeming to gauge fan reaction, which included a growing wave of boos. “Well, look, it’s been love. I love y’all. I go by the name of Drake. Thank you for having me.”
And with that he exited the stage, leaving the audience — which expected the show as advertised to last another 20 minutes — unsure of what to do.
A desultory “We want Drake” chant started up but soon morphed into a “We want Frank” chant. Then, after another few minutes of awkward inactivity, the parking lot’s lights came up, triggering a wave of groans in the crowd (and at least one bottle that went hurtling toward the stage).
On the way out, the atmosphere among show goers was mixed. Some felt Drake had been disrespected; others said the rapper was too proud and that he’d made some new enemies. And one group of people amused themselves as they left by loudly singing Ocean’s ‘Thinkin Bout You’.
Tyler, the Creator addressed the harsh reception that Drake received.
In a series of all caps, expletive-laced tweets early Monday, Tyler wrote that he thought that bringing “one of the biggest artist[s] on the... planet to a musical festival was fire!” But, he added, his choice of Drake was “a lil tone deaf knowing the specific crowd it drew.”
“Some created a narrative in their head,” Tyler wrote on Twitter, “and acted out like ... when it didnt come true and I dont ... with that.”
He went on to thank Drake for performing and to scold those who booed. “Yall represented me and Flog to my guest and made us look sooo entitled and trash,” he wrote, before comparing the incident to “cancel culture in real life.”
For his part, Drake took the crowd’s reaction in stride, according to DJ Akademiks, the popular YouTube personality who wrote on Twitter that the superstar rapper told him he welcomed the “moment of humility.”
Sunday “was just not my night,” Drake was quoted as saying in Akademiks’ tweet. “Wasn’t who they wanted to see.”