If we have learned anything at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, it's that [artist id="2545682"]Drake[/artist] really knows how to spiff up a joint.
Mining the same midcentury swagger the Toronto MC worked in his [article id="1646230"]VMA promo, Drizzy[/article] side-stepped the outrageous antics the big show is known for in favor of a sophisticated rendition of his Thank Me Later track "Fancy."
Following an introduction by stars of the movie "The Social Network" — including Justin Timberlake, who dubbed Drake the "most exciting artist in music" — the set opened with [artist id="854"]Mary J. Blige[/artist] channeling her "I'm Going Down" video in an all-black suit and fedora, as a similarly dressed [artist id="1161216"]Swizz Beatz[/artist] manned a grand piano. Then Drizzy descended an illuminated staircase in a white dinner jacket below a sign that read "Drake" in bold lights. He began to spit, and the MC didn't let the grown-man look slow him down, rattling off the lyrics with energetic abandon.
Mary then broke it down, belting out rhymes about ladies with "their nails done, hair done, everything did" with an effortless power that reminded the audience why she's the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.
During rehearsals, Drizzy dished that the performance was inspired by the midcentury cool of the Rat Pack, an iconic crew of entertainers that included stars like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.
"I watched the Rat Pack live at the Copa Room," [article id="1647589"]Drake, who was nominated for Best Male Video and Best Hip-Hop Video awards[/article], told MTV News. "It was just so relaxed. They were smoking cigarettes and drinking Jack. It was women everywhere. It wasn't, 'Let's just rap and be epic and be huge.' They were like, 'I really run this. Me and Sammy and Dean.' I wanted to get up there and look fly."
It's fitting that Drizzy was joined by [article id="1643664"]Mary J. and Swizz for his VMA performance, as "Fancy,"[/article] which was crafted by the superproducer, was originally slated to be a joint for the Queen. But Drake knows a hit when he hears it.
"He was like, 'That's the record I need,' " [article id="1643901"]Swizz told MTV News about Drake's reaction[/article] upon first hearing the song. Swizzy initially offered to re-create the song's feel on a different track. "I said, 'OK, I'll make you that.' "
Apparently Drizzy wasn't having it and insisted on the actual "Fancy" song, not a replacement. "No. That's the record I need," Drake said.
What did you think of Drake, Mary J. Blige and Swizz Beatz's VMA performance? Sound off in the comments below!
The Moonmen have all been handed out and the stars have gone home, but there's plenty of 2010
MTV Video Music Awards news, interviews, behind-the-scenes scoop, party reports and more still to come, so keep it locked on MTVNews.com.