Since it started in 2010, Drake’s annual festival has brought the biggest names in hip-hop to Toronto, boosting its homegrown culture to a wider audience in the process. The rapper from Forest Hill saw a meteoric rise after he dropped his So Far Gone mixtape in 2009, but the release of his first album, Thank Me Later, and the first OVO Fest helped solidify him as a major presence, with heavyweights like Jay Z, Eminem and more endorsing the rapper by performing with him onstage.
Each year, OVO kicks off during Caribana, and has served as a launch pad for local talent. The Weeknd played his second-ever hometown show at OVO in 2011, and PARTYNEXTDOOR, Majid Jordan, Roy Woods and dvsn have also put in career-making appearances. While the festival called the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre (now Budweiser Stage) home for its first five years, it moved to the Air Canada Centre in 2016 to accommodate two nights of Drake and Future’s “Summer Sixteen” tour and has stayed there since.
OVO has also drawn big international talent in past years. A reunited OutKast co-headlined in 2014, while Rick Ross, J. Cole and A$AP Rocky have also performed. Surprise guests have also been known to appear alongside Drake in the festival’s headlining slot. Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and more have all shown up at OVO in the past.
Beyond its notable appearances, the festival has grabbed headlines for events surrounding it. The day after 2013’s edition, Drake dropped the Nothing Was the Same single “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” while the rapper fuelled his beef with Meek Mill during the 2015 festival after being accused of using ghostwritten lyrics.