But one of the night's unexpectedly large turnouts was for 23-year-old hip-hop sensation Drake, whose highly anticipated debut album, "Thank Me Later," will be released June 15 on Aspire/Young Money/Cash Money with distribution through Universal Motown.
Backed by a five-piece band and DJ, and dressed in all black, Drake took the stage a little before 9 p.m.-20 minutes late due to a bad case of allergies-and commanded the attention of even those tailgating in the parking lot.
It was Drake's mentor and label head, Lil Wayne, who encouraged him to perform at diverse and ambitious events like Bamboozle. "When I do House of Blues in Chicago or L.A., they scream," Drake says. "But when you do these festivals, they'll stand there and stare at you and judge you. But there's a part of them that's listening."
Born Aubrey Drake Graham in Toronto, Drake got his showbiz start playing Jimmy Brooks, the wheelchair-bound former basketball player on the Canadian teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Just a few mixtapes and an EP later, Drizzy, as he's known, has emerged as the most revered new MC in years. As hip-hop continues to drift further away from rap's basic elements and seeks to re-energize and expand its fan base with a new, hybrid sound that blends rap, R&B, dance, even alt-rock-witness the success of B.o.B, Kid Cudi and progenitors Kanye West and OutKast-this half-singing, half-rapping, half-Jewish, half-black former actor and current heartthrob is helping change the face of the genre firsthand.
Indeed, Drake did his thing that muggy night. After shouting out Weezy, dropping a few F-bombs to the New York Police Department and telling fans his doctor advised him not to perform-"Motherfucker, you crazy? I'm here to see my family!"-he ran through songs like "Forever," "Every Girl," "Bedrock," "Successful," "Over" and "Best I Ever Had." "Best I Ever Had," off his star-minting 2009 mixtape, "So Far Gone," reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 1.8 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "So Far Gone," which was released as an official album with limited tracks last year, has moved 458,000 copies.
During his performance, Drake dedicated his singing-which he thought was a "mistake" when he originally released "So Far Gone"-to the ladies, who he says encouraged him to hire a vocal coach this past year. And taking cues from sexified R&B performers like Usher and Trey Songz, he did an air-humping dance that had the girls googly-eyed. He danced with a young lady in cutoff shorts and a bikini top to Alicia Keys' "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)," which he co-wrote, and kissed her on both cheeks and forehead before she dropped to the ground in shock.