Even if you’re not a big hip-hop fan, you’ve likely heard of Drake. The Canadian rapper has been on near-constant radio repeat for the past few years thanks to hits like “Headlines” and “Fancy.” His unique combination of smooth R&B and hard-hitting, emotive rap lyrics—not to mention pairings with hip-hop all-stars like Nicki Minaj (who will be in Denver on August 2) and Lil Wayne—have skyrocketed him to the top of the charts. This Sunday, Drake’s Club Paradise Tour hits Comfort Dental Amphitheatre where he’ll be joined by J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, and others. I caught up with the hip-hopper a few weeks ago.

What was the creative process behind the tour, and what can fans expect?

It’s like a meeting place for fans of the music that I put out to really see the songs come alive. This summer run was really the one where I said to myself, ‘OK, it’s been a while since there’s been a tour where you can come and see pretty much anybody that has one of your favorite songs or anybody that has the songs that you listen to on the way to the club or in the club.’ What I wanted to do was overextend myself a bit from a budget and production standpoint and give people an absolutely stunning show from top to bottom.

What kind of vibe do you want these shows to have?

I think that this tour is really about each individual act and what they bring to the table. I was really just trying to cover all bases and bring the most exciting, young, refreshing acts to the stage, all together in one place, for one night. I encourage people to get there early because it’s more of a festival vibe than anything. I want people to make it a day: You make sure you’re well fed, you start drinking early, and you start having fun early.

What’s your favorite part of being on tour?

My favorite part of it is just that moment where I realized as a kid what it meant to me to go to a concert and see my favorite artist and have him really engage the crowd and have him interact or have that person make me really feel special. I realize there are people in those crowds that are the next…whatever. There are young people in that crowd that are the frontrunners of this generation. There’s another Drake in one of those crowds. If I’m able to deliver the proper performance and make an impact on their lives, it’s very special for me.

Given how emotional many of your songs are is it challenging to relive some of these songs on stage each night?

Anything I write, any piece of music that I put out, I’m proud of the emotion. It’s something I went through in my life. It’s not painful. It gets kind of awkward for me to talk about such personal feelings in front of other people, but the same time, it’s also a beautiful thing. I get to make the records come to life. I know people are listening to what I’m saying. None of my songs are ever pained emotions. I write about what’s going on around me and none of that is bad. I don’t live a sad, miserable life. I’m a happy individual; I just don’t live, like, in a fairy tale bubble. I try and really describe what’s going on around me, good or bad. Either way it makes for great music, and I’m down to perform it.

Your music seems to speak to, and resonate with, empowered, career-minded young women. Was this an explicit goal of yours?

I think it just kind of happened naturally. It’s funny because sometimes in the songs that I’m making I don’t always necessarily say the most respectful things, but I think real women appreciate how candid and honest I am about the mind of a man. It’s more about giving them insight into how a man really thinks. I definitely don’t sugarcoat it. The women that you’re talking about are not naïve women; they don’t want to hear about the fairy tale either. They want it clear-cut. They want it real.

Much of your last album, Take Care, focuses on your adjustment to fame. What’s in store for your next album?

I think that my mood will be reflected in the tempos that I choose for the music. I’m in a very, very, very, very different place than I’ve ever been, which is really focused on myself…really wanting to be the best that I can possibly be. Also, it’s a new atmosphere [with his recent move to L.A.]; it’s getting to know new people. The album will probably be, conceptually, one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on just because there are so many new things going on in my life. When it’s new, that’s when I thrive.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.