It's a bustling summer for Drake, the Canadian actor, singer and rapper.
Having honed his live chops with a winter college tour, the 25-year-old Toronto native hit the road last month for his Club Paradise amphitheater run, bringing a cast of musical friends with whom he's done recent collaborations -- including J. Cole ("In the Morning") and Waka Flocka Flame ("Round of Applause").
Before heading to the European festival circuit in July, Drake will start work on his third record, a follow-up to last year's million-selling "Take Care," which kept his pop hot streak rolling with singles such as "Headlines."
Drake spoke with reporters before the tour's kickoff in Concord, Calif.:
On the tour's supporting acts, who will also partner onstage with Drake: "This tour is really about each individual act and what they bring to the table. You've got a lot of different elements of hip-hop music. And even with myself, you get, obviously, a flip side of singing and melody and R&B, and so 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. ... As far as my energy goes -- I like to think of myself as a consistent performer. I get out there and give my all every night."
On prepping for a year of touring: "Starting in September 2011 is when I really started conditioning my body, training as if I was an athlete, as if I really had something competitive to get in the months ahead. I'm very happy that I did that, because it's helped me stamina-wise and health-wise, just to stay above water, which is definitely a difficult thing when you're sleeping in all different kinds of hotels, showering in different showers. You know, you've got 90 minutes on stage every single night. Are you eating right? What are you eating? What are you drinking? It's very difficult."
On creating a memorable night: "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 really make me feel special. And those memories. I guess I realize now that I'm doing arenas and stadiums and amphitheaters, like -- you know, there's people in those crowds that are the next whatever-they-may-be. There's young people in that crowd that are the front-runners of this generation. There's another Drake in one of those crowds."
On the challenge of reliving his emotional songs onstage each night: "Any piece of music that I put out, I'm proud of the emotion. (It's) something I went through in my life. And it's not painful. I mean, sometimes it's tough to do songs like 'Look What You've Done,' when my mom is at the show or my uncle or my dad. It gets kind of awkward for me to talk about such personal feelings in front of other people.
"But at the same time, it's also a beautiful thing. I mean, I get to make the records come to life and people are listening to what I'm saying. So, it's not necessarily painful or anything like that. None of my songs are ever pained emotions. I just really write about what's going on around me and none of that is bad.
"I don't live a sad, miserable life or anything like that. I've said that countless times over and over again. I'm a happy individual -- I just don't live in a fairy-tale bubble. I try really to describe what's going on around me, good or bad ... either way, it makes for great music."
On the appeal of his songs to women: "I think it just kind of happened naturally. You know, 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 ... like, real women just appreciate how candid and honest I am about the mind of the man. You know, I think that's what it's more about. It's more about giving them insight about how a man really thinks.
"I definitely don't sugarcoat it. I think the women that you're talking about are not naive women. They don't want to hear about the fairy tale either, you know? They want it clear cut. They want it real. When you ask me who listens to my music, I never say 'girls' ... or anything. I always say, it's women that listen to my music. And even if it's young girls, it's young girls with the aspiration of becoming great women."
On what he hopes fans take away from his show: "They've given me an opportunity to be one of the few people that can go in and sell out an arena and amphitheatre. There's only about four of us that can do it right now, you know? So, I hope that they'll understand how seriously I take that blessing.
"And I hope that they'll look at the production, look at the artist lineups, really look at the night from front to back and say, 'Wow, Drake came in here and it wasn't about the check.' ... It's about the experience. If the city isn't talking about it five, six, seven days later, or if people don't remember it for years to come, then I haven't done my job."
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