Two months ago, Drake released a mixtape called If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which included a song called “Madonna.” In it, the rapper attempts to seduce a woman by telling her that if she hooks up with him, she “could be as big as Madonna.” Thirty minutes into his set, Drake performed the track (weirdly, in front of a video projection of a fire in a cave) — and then Madonna Ciccone herself stalked onto the stage in thigh-high boots and performed her own “Human Nature,” offering counterpoint to Drake by singing, “I’m not your bitch, so don’t hang your shit on me.”
The singer did a snatch of her own “Hung Up,” took off her coat to reveal a “Big as Madonna” shirt, and, with Drake seated in a nearby chair, gave him a long, passionate kiss while groping his chest. Declaring “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” she left the stage, leaving a flustered, giggling Drake to say, “What the fuck just happened?”
Drake has made a specialty in recent months of sitting in chairs and receiving lustful moves by female stars that he can’t really reciprocate — Madonna last night and Nicki Minaj giving him a lapdance in the “Anaconda” video. It all goes with Drake’s reputation as the nicest guy in hip-hop — which is a bit of a mixed bag, like receiving the Lady Byng trophy for the most gentlemanly conduct in the National Hockey League. When Drake indulges in ego bluster or speaks roughly of women, it usually feels like he’s doing it just enough to fulfill the expectations of the genre.
Drake’s vulnerable Canadian charm and lyrical flow have given him a seemingly endless stream of hits, and he crammed dozens of songs (in truncated versions) into Sunday night’s set. Early in the show, he told the audience he had just gotten a phone call from his mother. After simulating his ring tone, he said that she had told him, “Aubrey, you know I love you, but I need a favor: I need you to go on that Coachella stage tonight and kill that motherfucker.”
He did, in the gentlest way possible — not by bringing out his various high-powered collaborators, but by emphasizing the moodier cuts in his catalog and providing unexpected video backdrops, like a sky full of fluffy white clouds. Drake opened and closed the show with the gloomy “Legend,” the leadoff track on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late/ “If I die, I’m a legend,” he mused. When he finished the show, he was standing in an artificial rainstorm in front of a happy Coachella audience, mixing gloom and triumph in the Drakiest way possible.