Music

Kanye West and Drake Unite to “Free Larry Hoover” at LA Benefit Concert

Despite barely mentioning Larry Hoover, Kanye West and Drake performed a concert in honor of the Gangster Disciples leader.

Broadcasting live on Amazon, the long-awaited “Free Larry Hoover” concert touched down at the L.A. Coliseum on Thursday night (well, Friday morning if you were on eastern standard time.) Headlined by Kanye West, attendees anticipated the chemistry between West and Drake following the end of their beef.

With an opening performance by West’s Sunday Service Choir, led by Choir director Jason White, the group interpolated hits like “Ready or Not” by the Fugees and Adele’s “Easy On Me”, ending with “Ultralight Beam” from West’s 2016 album The Life of Pablo. Upon the choir’s final song, West and Drake emerged from the smoke as West landed into “Praise God” from his latest album DONDA.

Similar to West’s DONDA listening events in August, the L.A. Coliseum transformed into a post-apocalyptic set that could double for 2021 action film Dune. While the concert reportedly boasted a budget of $10 million, there was little mention of Larry Hoover, the Gangster Disciples co-founder who continues to serve six life sentences. According to Pitchfork, only one person referenced Hoover: an off-camera attendee. While efforts for the “Free Larry Hoover” concert were plentiful, there’s a likelihood that it won’t lead to Hoover – who has state and federal convictions – being pardoned. According to Slate, the “free Hoover” movement stemmed from West’s advocacy of the First Step Act, a 2018 law which allows judges to re-sentence those with certain federal convictions. With his complicated legal history, Hoover may only be freed if he receives a gubernatorial and pardon from President Biden.

While West and Drake came out together, the show was bifurcated. Kanye performed first, wearing an assemble full with “Free Larry Hoover” typography. West performed a slew of classics from “Jesus Walks” to “Flashing Lights” Merch from the “Free Larry Hoover” show went viral on social media; the pieces, which is a collabo with Balenciaga, included a $200 hoodie, $360 jumpsuit and $400 repurposed jeans. (You can also buy the merch on Amazon.)

Midway through the concert, Drake reappeared to cover DONDA track “24” before taking over the second half of the concert with songs “Life Is Good”, “Way 2 Sexy”, “Knife Talk” and more. Giving praise to West, Drake acknowledged the impact of the historic concert.

“When we were walking through the archway, it felt surreal, it felt like a dream,” Drake said. “It was something I always wanted to do — be on stage with one of my idols while he’s running through one of the best catalogs in music, period.”

The two put a bow on the night by performing their first collaboration “Forever:”

Watch the full concert below.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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