Canadian rapper Drake took over my summer before the summer even started. On January 30, in the dead of winter, the Bon Jovi of modern hip hop released the ultimate summer anthem ‘Summer Sixteen,’ a single used to promote Drake's fourth studio album, Views.
Summer Sixteen had 215,000 downloads in the first week. Since the release of this single, the phrase Summer Sixteen or ‘Lookin for revenge all Summer Sixteen’ which can be heard repeatedly throughout the hook of the song, has been a recurring theme in my life.
In hip hop culture, it is always a goal to have a takeover summer anthem. Drake has definitely taken over the summer-literally and figuratively-by turning Summer Sixteen into a lifestyle. Since that cold day in January, I have been compelled to have the best summer ever. I have been motivated the desire to seek revenge for unenjoyable summers in the past.
Mother Nature, and all of Western New York apparently, also heeded Drake's message. With sizzling temperatures and events for all ages, this has been a vengeful summer.
My summer kicked off at Juneteenth, celebrating the end of slavery at this annual Buffalo festival. I really enjoyed the parade, which included African dancers and performances from local dance teams. And the food is always a treat. Caribbean cuisine, jerk and curry chicken, sent my palette into a tailspin. The artisan vendors added to my enjoyment with their African art, clothing, jewelry, and beauty products. I took home Shea butter, African black soap and a traditional African dashiki shirt.
My next summer adventure was also food-centric. The Taste of Buffalo has always been my favorite Buffalo summer event, but this year I was determined to venture out of the box and try new foods. Coconut rice, crab dip and cinnamon cashews were some new things that delighted my taste buds.
As I attended all these wonderful annual events, I also enjoyed the mainstays of a WNY summer, like a Fourth of July family picnic at Martin's Fantasy Island. I took a thrilling ride on my beloved Silver Comet wooden roller coaster. While I waited for the big drop on the 82 ft hill, I took selfies. And for the first time I took a ride in the paddle boats. The journey through the waterpark's lazy river was relaxing. Even my family got in on the summer sixteen celebration by taking full advantage of everything Fantasy Island had to offer. Even our family barbecue was on the amusement park grounds. The holiday drew to a explosive close with the beautiful fireworks display.
But what is summer without music? How could I not attend Drake’s Summer Sixteen tour at the First Niagara Center? Drake started by setting the arena on fire by performing the seasonal anthem-you guessed it-Summer Sixteen. In that very moment, standing in the mecca of summer events, I confirmed that I was celebrating my summer correctly. It was a beautiful sold out show at which the crowd knew every song verbatim.
Drake somehow managed to create a very personal and intimate feel in that immense venue. During a very special segment, a piano softly played while he reminisced on his history with Buffalo, from making the hour drive across the border to perform his very first show at Daemen College, to picking up his father at the Greyhound station.
Every song was customized to Buffalo, Drake letting us know that the Queen City is his home away from home. Not only was his musical performance riveting, the visual aesthetics perfectly aligned with the the theme of concert. Balloon-like lights moved to the beat of the music while creating shapes and changing colors, transforming the arena into another world that was tailored for Buffalo. Adding to the intimate feel, Drake stepped onto a platform that ascended into the air and looped around the arena, hovering inches away from fans. Needless to say this was the highlight of my summer. As the leaves turn , daylight becomes shorter the cooler weather creeps up. I can proudly say I came, I saw and conquered revenge on Summer of Sixteen.