"Saturday Night Live" returned from winter break last week with a new cast member, Sasheer Zamata, but give credit to host and musical guest Drake for shifting through characters as if he'd always belonged on the late-night sketch show.
Whether it was impersonating Lil Wayne or Alex Rodriguez, or dressing as a cosplaying wizard or rapping a monologue that played off his Jewish roots, Drake showed he had a deft comedic hand Saturday. Not that his acting chops ever were in doubt, as his pre-hip-hop role on the Canadian soap "Degrassi: The Next Generation" made clear. But Drake's ability to shape-shift from Rodriguez to Katt Williams kept the show moving at a relatively brisk pace.
Agreeing are our friends at sister blog Show Tracker, which has already compiled some of the night's best sketches. And though Pop & Hiss was a fan of Drake as Rodriguez, we suggest not letting the comedy outshine two of the night's best moments: Drake's musical performances.
Draping himself in little more than alien light, as he often does in concert, Drake made "Started From the Bottom" and "Hold On, We're Going Home" compelling set pieces. The latter was especially striking, as Jhené Aiko joined Drake to pair "Hold On" with "From Time," a moment that captured Drake at his conversational best.
Drake on album can come off as a split personality, as his recorded works balance hard-hitting hip-hop with voyeuristic balladering. But Drake's murky musical tone and speak-rap delivery hold the disparate ends together, keeping it all rather approachable. If not quite dark or a full-on confessional, the two "Saturday Night Live" performances could be seen as different extremities of casual confidence.
"Started From the Bottom" was the artist at his fastest and toughest, owning a patiently menacing beat. But Drake isn't out to drag the listener through the dirt. Fights with his mom, working late -- emotional torment is all relative, and coupled with just the right amount of "Trophies," it became a boast that felt more like a statement of musical love.
Watch it below.
Lyrics were altered in the collaboration with Aiko, with Drake asking to cut to commercial so he could have some alone-time with his collaborator, yet even with the verses twisted for a happier ending, the true feat was the intimacy captured in the live setting.
The song is less a back-and-forth than it is two interior monologues, and perhaps that's why Aiko seemed to chuckle nervously and turn away when Drake requested the two go backstage. One doesn't necessarily call the bluff on lyrics of such lonely hearts.
Watch it below.
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