Drake, Academy, Glasgow
I Blame Coco, Proud Galleries, London

There is more musical depth to the Canadian hip-hop star than you would expect from his gyrating posturing and lewd talk

Drake has a message, and it's a message for the ladies. "I came on this tour as a 24-year-old single man," the Canadian tells the crowd at his first-ever international show. "I enjoy such things as pussy, sex, sexual things, all of the above."

Gyrating his combat-trousered hips, Drake then proceeds to mime a speciality of his called the Drizzy Three Stroke, and suffice to say it doesn't involve baseball or biking.

Along with blowing the minds of the majority of the females in the audience, he's blown my image of him as a gentleman-rapper. But, crotch-thrusting inter-lewds aside, there's still plenty to be said for the idea that Aubrey Drake Graham is not like those other guys.

In a rap world where being "real" is prized above all else, Drake doesn't have a leg to stand on. The mixed race (African-American, Jewish-Canadian), multi-skilled (rapper, singer, actor) Toronto native acknowledges on his song "Show Me a Good Time" that "real hip-hop fans" find him "manufactured". And it's true that the wealthy Forest Hill area in which he was raised isn't exactly the 'hood. Instead, he was assisted by a solid grounding in music: his father drummed for Jerry Lee Lewis, and his uncle is the legendary Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham.

To make matters worse, he's done things backwards by moving from acting into rapping. Drake made his name by playing disabled former basketball star Jimmy Brooks in Degrassi: The Next Generation before becoming a Lil Wayne protégé and making his smooth ascent via guest spots and a Juno award-winning mixtape (the seven-track So Far Gone) to the point where his debut album, dotted with celebrity cameos, topped the Billboard charts (and did respectably elsewhere, reaching No 15 over here).

He makes a little speech tonight about how "fame is synonymous with hate", but Drake's had it so good it would make anyone sick, not just a confirmed hater. The trouble is, he's brilliant. That album, Thank Me Later – produced, cannily, by relative unknowns Noah "40" Shebib and Boi-1da – is an oddity in hip-hop terms, and rightly made many end-of-year lists. Its minimalist, muted sound, typified by songs such as "Karaoke" and the Alicia Keys collaboration "Fireworks", are cumulonimbus light.

But Drake also has his dark side. If you glanced at the zombie movie artwork on the merchandise, and the empty stage bathed in red light and smoke, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd been timewarped back to rap's short-lived Horrorcore phase (Gravediggaz, Bushwick Bill), and he justifies this imagery by vowing: "I ain't gonna sugarcoat this shit. I'm gonna give you my ups and downs, my dreams and nightmares." He makes good on that promise with "Resistance", in which his mind flits between hearing that a one-night stand resulted in an abortion and learning that his grandmother has just been moved to a nursing home.

As a performer, he has an actor's facility with moving around a stage: like a master stand-up comedian, he doesn't even deign to face the crowd till the first big beat kicks in. Backed by a full live band, his set, end-loaded with hands-in-the-air party bangers, involves actual indoor fireworks, which only adds to the faint feeling of surrealness. In a way, it's odd that he's doing this sort of show at all, playing medium-sized theatres in the cold bits of northern Europe. It would be so easy for someone in his position to breeze over, play a couple of elite London showcases, then wait till he's big enough for the arenas. That's what those other guys would do.

But then, as Drizzy knows more than most, it takes different strokes.

Eliot Paulina Sumner, aka Coco Sumner, aka I Blame Coco, hasn't exactly led the hard-knock life either. The offspring of a tantric tryst between Sting and Trudie Styler, she's spent the majority of her 20 years flitting between homes in Malibu, Manhattan and The Mall (to name but three) and growing up in the peripheral vision of the public eye.

Being offered a deal by Island at the age of 17 was, therefore, presumably not purely down to precocious talent, and indeed, she hasn't made it this far without calling on high-profile help: the writing credits on her debut album The Constant include Amanda Ghost (James Blunt's "You're Beautiful") and Steve Kipner (Aguilera's "Genie", ONJ's "Physical"), and she's collaborated with Robyn and been remixed by La Roux.

All of which is potentially as irritating as Drake must be to hip-hop purists, and Sumner seems equally conscious of her situation: the opening line of her first single, "Caesar", is "I want to annoy/And I'm going to enjoy it!" In person, she's a lot more shy-eyed than that statement of intent suggests. Androgynously besuited, she's got the cheekbones of a model (she advertised Burberry), but hides behind tousled hair when her band do their thing.

Her "dark pop" sound, whose acknowledged influences include ABBA and Fleetwood Mac (whose "The Chain" is in her repertoire) and the soft, synthy Eighties goth (Depeche Mode, The Cure), is easy on the ear, and suits a medium-deep voice which, on certain vowels and plosives, is not dissimilar to Sumner senior's. Her lyrics suggest some life-of-the-mind, even if that mind often belongs to a hired songwriter.

I Blame Coco is not entirely abysmal, nor is she an irreplaceable addition to an already-cluttered landscape. Still, it keeps her off The Mall.

Next Week:

Simon Price ventures to the wilds of western Scotland to see returning local heroes Glasvegas

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?