Thursday (Dec. 9) night, Kanye West and Drake linked up to create one of the most legendary moments in hip hop history with their Free Larry Hoover benefit concert. With Kanye running through his entire catalog of hits while Drake performed many of his tracks from Certified Lover Boy for the first time, the show was a moment for the culture.
With hip hop still being a very young genre, most of our legends are alive and well, and Drake and Kanye are two of the most respected legends in the game. When the two of them finally set aside the issues they had with one another to come together (thanks, J. Prince), they gave fans a performance they’ll never forget, and it was nothing short of legendary.
Peep the 11 of the best moments from the night below.
1. Kanye’s Opening
“Let’s take it back to day one” were Kanye’s only words before he stunned the audience by opening up the show with his 2004 hit “Jesus Walks.” While he only recently became known to some as a gospel artist, he’s always spoken about God in his music, and Kanye was sure to remind the audience of that immediately. It’s safe to say that no one was expecting him to immediately jump into the show with his classics, but it was a pleasant surprise for new and old fans alike.
2. All Falls Down
As soon as Lauryn Hill’s pitched up “Mystery Of Iniquity” vocals flooded the speakers at Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum stadium, it seemed as if every fan in attendance went ballistic. What followed Ye’s moving performance of “Jesus Walks” was a just as moving performance of “All Falls Down.” It’s been years since he has even acknowledged the depth of his discography, and his “All Falls Down” performance was just the beginning of him finally doing so last night.
3. Gold Digger
Ye kept the throwbacks coming with his Jamie Foxx-assisted song, “Gold Digger.” By that point, it was evident that he would be delving deep into his discography, much to the delight of the millions of viewers tuned in. Before bringing his signature energy to the song, Kanye let the audience sing the intro for him. He had multiple moments where the DJ muted the beat to allow him to spit, and he sounded incredible. Smoke engulfed the stage as Kanye rocked the mic and reminded the audience why he’s considered the legend he is, and if there was ever any doubt about whether Kanye still had “it,” it could’ve been answered within the first minute of this performance.
4. Flashing Lights
Kanye is one of the few artists whose repertoire includes numerous universally acclaimed classics. One of his most recognizable classics is “Flashing Lights.” It’s one of the few records that can make a person feel like a completely new one after listening to it for the first time. It’s a song that feels deeper than just a song; it’s a listening experience and Kanye made sure to highlight its extraterrestrial feeling while on stage. From the live instrumentation in the intro to the addicting synths driving the beat, it was a near-perfect performance.
5. Find Your Love
Later in Ye’s first set, he stunned the crowd by covering Drake’s 2010 single “Find Your Love.” While it was undoubtedly one of the show’s most surprising moments, the passion Kanye sang with made it a fan favorite. Kanye wowed the crowd with his emotive vocals, while Drake sat on the sidelines jamming out to Ye’s rendition. When the drums fade out and Kanye sings a capella with the piano at the end, his emotion can be felt from a thousand miles away. While there may be speculation on who Kanye was singing to, there shouldn’t be any on how passionately he sang.
Kanye immediately transitioned “Find Your Love” into “Runaway” for a performance twice as intense and moving. Ye enthralled the crowd with an impassioned rendition of his fan-favorite song before singing acapella with just the piano once again. “Someday I’m going to make you run away…someday you’re going to run away,” he sang passionately, before closing the song with “And when you run away baby, I need you to run right back to me, more specifically Kimberly.” If reading those lyrics doesn’t convey Kanye’s level of passion and emotion during his performance, it’s worth watching.
7. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
As ironic as it may sound, Kanye followed up “Runaway” with his critically acclaimed single “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” He quickly lifted the energy in the arena and Drake joined him on stage to help him do so. Drake allowed Kanye to shine by simply playing hype-man while Ye rapped with all of his might and continued to give fans a great show. This was the final song in Kanye’s initial set before handing the stage off to Drake for him to take over, and he definitely went out with a bang.
8. Drake’s Cover of “24”
A small portion of Drake’s soundcheck was leaked hours before the show, which included a clip of him singing a rendition of Kanye West’s song “24.” Fans’ reactions on Twitter were overwhelmingly positive, and it quickly became one of the night’s most anticipated acts. To remember the late great Kobe Bryant, Drake launched his set with the song, which swooned the audience with his poignant vocals. The impressive performance was only enhanced by the live church organ in the background, and the audience was clearly captivated. “24” was the perfect way to open Drake’s set. It was a true calm before the storm.
9. God’s Plan
Later in Drake’s set, Kanye joined him on stage for the performance of his 2018 hit “God’s Plan.” The intensity that Drake and Kanye bring to the stage is just unsurpassed. And just as Drake did for Kanye’s performance, Ye sat back and played hype-man as Drizzy made the stadium sing. It’s rare to see two legends just having fun on stage with one another, and this performance was a fantastic illustration of what it can look like if done right.
10. Niggas In Paris
When Kanye got control of the stage back after Drake’s set, one of the first songs he performed was “Niggas In Paris.” It was another incredibly energetic performance where it was clear that Kanye was just having fun. As soon as the opening notes hit the stadium, the audience sounded the loudest they’d been all night. Kanye raced from one side of the platform to the other, making sure to engage every single side of the audience, and the crowd erupted. It was one of the best performances of the night simply because it was clear that Kanye was lit.
For the final performance of the night, Drake joined Kanye on stage one last time to perform their star-studded hit “Forever.” They each rapped their verses with such infectious and positive energy that it was impossible not to smile watching the two. Their set was the perfect way to end the memorable night. The concert was a wonderful example of how deep each of their discographies ran. It’s safe to say that December 9, 2021 will go down in hip hop history “forever.”
The concept was simple. Two legends. One stage. One mission. When two powerful people come together for the greater good, there’s no limit to the amount of good that can be produced. The Free Larry Hoover benefit concert was definitely a night to remember.