BROOKLYN, New York — Drake first appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010, but before he made his debut alongside Mary J. Blige and Swizz Beatz, the Toronto spitter made his presence felt a few years earlier thanks to his mentor Lil Wayne.
When Weezy took the stage at the 2008 VMAs to perform Tha Carter III's "Misunderstood," the Young Money boss left his own lyrics at home, opting to spit bars written and recorded by Drake, who was largely unknown as a rapper at the time. At the end of the performance, he yelled out "Drizzy Drake, I love you, boy!" It was the ultimate co-sign.
"It was like surreal; I think I was locked outside. I couldn't even get inside, I was at a side door and I heard it," Drake recalled. "The door kept opening and closing and I kinda heard lyrics from my song and I thought like is he rehearsing and then people kept hitting my phone like Wayne is performing. That was crazy."
The verse that Wayne performed would eventually end up on Birdman's 2009 platinum single "Money to Blow." That 2008 night helped to set up Drizzy as an artist to watch for.
Drake would make his physical VMA debut in 2010 to put on a Rat Pack-inspired performance of "Fancy" with MJB and Swizz. "I just really remember like how nervous I was at my first VMAs," he said. "It's one thing to be comfortable with yourself, be yourself in everyday life, but it's hard to walk into this building and still be charismatic, still be personable and still be an individual with presence because there are so many big people here."
Tonight, the Young Angel will hit the 2013 VMA stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to perform "Started from the Bottom" and his latest Nothing Was the Same single "Hold On, We're Going Home."
"We're blowing the stage up, I got things going off, I had to test with the fire marshall and it's gonna be good," he told us on Friday night. "I've been doing this for a while, pyro doesn't scare me. You know I'm ready, if you've ever been onstage with Lil Wayne, he likes explosions and they're loud you know, so I'm used to it."