No young rapper in the game is hotter than Drake right now, and no segment of his fan base is more hot-headed currently than those in South Florida. It was with great consternation that New Times confirmed that an upcoming date featuring the clean-cut Toronto native — a March 12 show at Miami's Karu & Y — was not happening.
According to Drake's manager, Cortez Bryant, the scheduled concert was the latest in a series of bogus promoters hoping to grab money out of unwitting music fans' pockets. "They're playing like they're people from our camp," says Bryant, who also counts South Florida-based Lil Wayne among his clients.
Unfortunately, it's no surprise that Aubrey Drake Graham's star would get swiped for nefarious purposes. After getting started as an actor on Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation from 2001-09, Drake's now a near ubiquity on pop radio singles outside the Ke$ha-sphere. "Best I Ever Had" from his So Far Gone mixtape turned EP reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 last year, and an ever-lengthening string of collaborations with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Eminem, and the Weezy-led Young Money collective ensure that a guy who has yet to release an official full-length album still can build a following with musicians and music fans alike.
Promoter Natalie Refuse of Bossladyz Production Inc., who posted the March 12 flier boosting a Haiti benefit featuring Drake as the headliner, plus Mac Maine, Nikki Minaj, and DJ Khaled, says her company is not to blame for the faulty date. According to Refuse, she signed what she thought was a real contract for a Haiti orphanage benefit back in December, before the January 12 earthquake upped the event's gravitas. She says that a local booking agent set up several fake shows and that a group of angry promoters reportedly caught up with the man at Miami Beach club Mansion in late February.
"They tried to duct-tape him and put him in the trunk of a car and knocked his tooth out," Refuse tells New Times. Local police put the kibosh on the violence, but the man didn't press charges, Refuse says. Now, Bossladyz is trying to regroup and regain confidence with R&B star Mario as the Haiti benefit performer at Karu & Y on the same night. "I was in tears for days," Refuse says. "I was trying to do this charitable deed but got swindled. Every single person who bought a ticket, I refunded 100 percent."
Bryant shares in her frustration. "I don't want the fans to think that it's us doing these things," he says. "These things put a bad taste in the market. People start second-guessing. We're not here to let down the fans." Although Bryant makes it clear that Drake loves visiting South Florida, there's no date on the rapper's upcoming solo tour, which hits college campuses throughout April and early May. "We'll be back in Miami close to Memorial Day," Bryant says, which coincides with tentative plans for the release of Drake's debut album, Thank Me Later. "But we don't have a solid date yet."