Drake Brings Out Future at ACL Day 2: 'I Tried to Put Something Special Together'

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Drake performs during the 2015 Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 3, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

In the 13 years preceding this edition of the festival, Austin City Limits has hosted only three hip-hop headliners: Kanye West in 2011, plus Eminem and Outkast last year. It was a fact that Canadian rapper Drake, dressed this night in a simple black T-shirt and matching jeans, seemed astutely aware of from the outset of his 90-minute performance on the Samsung Galaxy Stage, which began promptly at 8:30 p.m. (CT).

“I knew I was coming to Austin, Texas, so I tried to put something special together,” he said after blazing through three brief renditions of “Legend,” “Trophies,” “Headlines” and “Over,” a couple of which were marked by dazzlings bursts of pryo.

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It was clear by their relentless rapping and singing that the tens of thousands in attendance – mostly in the young 20-something range by the looks of it – would’ve praised his set as a success no matter what. But the 28-year-old hip-hop star continued to butter them up – “I consider Texas my second home … there’s no love like Texas love,” he proclaimed – before the reveal of that “something special,” all the while barreling through a dozen career spanning snippets, including critically acclaimed cuts “Tuesday,” “Blessings,” “HYFR” and “Started From the Bottom.”

“All I have for you tonight is a reward for being the best crowd I’ve seen all f---ing year,” he said after leading a thunderous a cappella chant-along to the latter track’s final chorus.

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With that, Atlanta-bred rapper Future strode onto the stage to perform a hat-trick of his own material, “F--k Up Some Commas,” “Trap N----s” and “Where Ya At,” with Drake’s verse on that final song serving as a bridge to the live debuts of two selections – “Jump Man” and “Big Rings” – off the duo’s just-released chart-topping mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive.

Drake arguably squandered his chance to wow in a similar situation over two consecutive two weekends in April at Coachella by failing to bring out any guests save for an apparently tongue-hungry Madonna (it’s still awkward), so his live collaboration with Future here was a smart idea. The move, along with a few bursts of sky-high fireworks, imbued him with just the right amount of extra oomph to conclude with the aptly titled “Energy” on a convincingly commanding note.