Canada was just united coast-to-coast thanks to Drake and Nelly Furtado. The Toronto-born rapper, 35, brought out the Victoria, B.C. native for a surprise performance at his hometown OVO Fest on Friday, July 29 and the fans went wild. “I like to deal with people the right way,” Drake began in his address to the crowd before Nelly emerged. “Because that’s the only way that you can get this next person out of the house to come do what they’re going to do right now,” he explained, referencing Furtado’s reclusive nature.
“I don’t care how long you sang tonight, right now I need you to sing as loud as you possibly can,” Drake then said. “This next person’s music changed my life so much and I love her so much, so when she comes out here, you better show her some f—— love,” he declared.
Right then, Nelly’s 2006 hit “Promiscuous” — produced by Timbaland — came on the speaker. The crowd went bizerk for the singer, now, 43, and screamed the lyrics from the Loose single right along with her. “Hey, Toronto! What’s up?” Nelly said, addressing the audience on night 1 of OVO Fest — Drake’s annual festival held at the Budweiser Stage outdoors. The pair then performed her breakout 2000 track “I’m Like A Bird,” with Champagne Papi (Drake’s IG name) crooning right along.
“I’m like a bird, I only fly away/I don’t know where my soul is/I don’t know where my home is,” Drake — who has multiple homes in both Toronto and Los Angeles respectively — belted out.
The festival promised “special guests,” many of whom were also Canadian R&B and hip-hop stars: Keshia Chante, Shawn Desman, Jully Black and Kardinal Offishall all hit the stake with the Views From The 6 rapper.
Nelly’s appearance was in particular significant as she hasn’t performed live since 2017, which is when she released album The Ride. She’s previously explained that she stepped out of the spotlight due to having a mental breakdown on stage when with her daughter Nevis Guhania, now 18.
“I had a nervous breakdown on stage,” she revealed in 2017 to the Daily Mail. “I was on the Loose tour [back in 2007] and my daughter was with me — I was being a mum and a singer on the road. I was exhausted…Then one night I went on stage and I suddenly realized how stressed out I was. I actually cried my way through the first two songs. I took a break from music and went home. And I realized that being at home and having the whole family experience was what I was seeking,” she said.
Fame was “too much, too soon,” for the then young star. “After two years of intense touring and partying, I’d spend hours alone in my LA home, just staring at the floor. I felt like a fraud, believing that people liked me for my image and not my music,” she also said at the time.