As winter begins to settle in over Happy Valley, popular Canadian rapper Drake and other up-and-coming hip-hop artists will heat things up for anyone willing to enter "Club Paradise."
Multiple dates were shaved off of the rapper's tour on the cusp of the release of his sophomore album, "Take Care," on Tuesday. But he will still take the stage at Bryce Jordan Center at 8 p.m. Thursday following opening performances from Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky.
Bernie Punt, director of marketing for the Bryce Jordan Center, said this will be one of the largest shows of the semester, despite the previous public perception that the show might be canceled.
"We had a really strong student response," he said. "Anybody 16 to 25 seemed to embrace it."
Now, the date at the BJC will be the first of only a handful of the rapper's performances scheduled for this fall. This and the fact that fans will be able to hear Drake's new material are just a few reasons why the concert will draw attendees from as far as New York and Virginia, as well as a strong local representation, Punt said.
"Central Pa. loves its hip-hop and rap, as well as country," he added.
Up-and-coming New York rapper A$AP Rocky hopes to make Pennsylvania hip-hop listeners fall in love with his raw energy performance at his first ever show in the state.
"When I get over there, I look to mash, I look to slam dance [and] crowd surf," he said.
His debut mixtape, "LIVELOVEA$AP," was released on Oct. 31, but has already garnered the 23-year-old rapper recognition from such revered music sites as Pitchfork and Stereogum.
"People are finally giving me my credit," he said. "They didn't want to do it because they weren't sure if I was really worthy, so I had a lot to prove. So now that the tape has dropped, it's solid. I hear, like, pins dropping.
"It's like people, they embrace me more now. ... Now they're like 'Oh, he's the future,' and it's like 'I've been telling you that.' "
Though New York City is both the birthplace of rap and of Rocky himself, he has always strayed from its cocky, ostentatious style in favor of giving modern rap an "upgrade."
"I try to bring back the essence of great music," he said. "It's not just about, like, flossin' and [stuff] like that. That's what some people get confused with. They use hip-hop as a pedestal or a gateway to talk about or brag about the [things] they have."
What made him an outcast while growing up in the hip hop scene later earned Rocky a $3 million record deal with the RCA subdivision Polo Grounds Music. But Rocky isn't worried about label pressure, he said, or carrying the weight of his label as the next big thing.
"I just want people, before they say that, to just actually check me out because, you know, there's definitely truth behind it," Rocky said. "I've believed the same thing, I've always felt that way about me. Therefore, I'm just ready to deliver."
And as online rumors of an early 2012 full length release and a subsequent mixtape circle, Rocky is simply excited to take the stage before Drake, and hope hear the crowd singing along.
"Of course I have more projects on the way, but I really just want people to focus on 'LIVELOVEA$AP' so they know that by heart," he said. "Then I'll give them something else."
Mirror staff writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.