Every Artist Who Played Drake’s All Canadian North Stars Show One Year Later, Ranked

One year after Drake put some of his favourite Canadian artists together on one stage, Complex Canada looks at how the artists have done since getting the Drake co-sign.

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In late July 2022, out of nowhere, Drake announced a mysterious event called All Canadian North Stars as part of his annual OVO Fest. A few days later, the lineup for the event was revealed, and it was clear the show was going to be something monumental and a celebration of Canadian hip-hop and R&B history. 


Names like Kardinal Offishall, Saukrates, Rascalz, and Shawn Desman echoed a different time in the Canadian music landscape before Drake and OVO were responsible for setting the tone in Canada and the world. 


The concert, held at Toronto's History, which is co-owned by Drake, was an exhaustive, nearly five-hour event curated by DJ Charlie B and Starting from Scratch that saw the history of Canadian rap and R&B music hit the stage one after the other. And what would a Drake and OVO show be without surprises? Staying true to the expect the unexpected feel of his OVO Fest, Drake peppered into the mix names not officially announced for the show. 


There was Rexdale's Jelleestone popping out to perform his hit "Money," Infinite delivering the classic track "Gotta Get Mine" from the compilation 'Beat Factory Rap Essentials Volume Two' and the biggest surprise of the night, Nelly Furtado, a Honey Jam alum, returned to the stage for the first time in years to deliver hits like "I'm Like A Bird." 


But it was the featured artists that fans gobbled up $20 tickets for and saw prices upwards of $200 on the secondary ticket market. We've looked back at the event and what has happened since to rank how each artist used the Drake and OVO bump to further their careers. 

12. In Essence

Easily one of the louder pops (to use a wrestling term) of the night came when Canadian R&B group In Essence took the stage to perform together for the first time in 16 years. Considering how long it had been since the group last performed, their choreography harkened back to the early 2000's when the night's song of choice, "You Will Never Find," was running urban radio. 

It was clear from the onset of their performance that this was a one-time return for the group as, despite a clear passion for the event and excitement in performing their hit record again after all these years, the collective was showing some rust. 

After the All Canadian North Stars event, In Essence, wasn't heard from again. And while the flash of nostalgia was gone as quickly as it came, some of the group's members, such as Sean Jones, continue performing around Toronto. 

You will likely never find another In Essence live performance again.

11. Frank-N-Dank

When Drake announced the lineup for his All Canadian North Stars show, one inclusion had people scratching their heads: the hip-hop duo Frank-N-Dank. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, the duo's billing on the show may have seemed out of place, considering the show's purpose was to celebrate the foundation of Canadian hip-hop and R&B. Still, the truth is, Frank-N-Dank are honorary Canadians. 

In the early to mid-2000's, Frank Nitt and Dankery Harv performed in Toronto so much that most people thought they were born in the city. A 2006 article talks about their deep-rooted Canadian connections, including extensive contributions from Canadian producers on their 2004 Xtended Play LP

Frank-N-Dank's performance on July 28 at History was brief and anchored by the performance of their most well-known single, "Nice 2 Meet U," produced by Toronto's Saukrates. It was a tough spot for the duo, given that connecting Frank-N-Dank to the Canadian and Toronto hip-hop scene was only for the hardest of hardcore fans in attendance. 

A look at Nitt and Harv's IG accounts sees both of them still very active as artists and producers but with a less direct connection back to that historic night in July. 

10. Glenn Lewis

"Drinking Hypnotiq with Glenn Lewis, I have been through it," raps Drake on the song "Weston Road Flows" off his 2016 album Views

One of the most treasured R&B voices in Canada who saw significant success stateside as well, Lewis' three-song set during the North Stars show hit all the right notes with Lewis delivering hit records like "Bout Your Love" and closing with his undeniable "Don't You Forget It," a top 10 record on the US R&B charts. 

Considering he hadn't been heard from musically since 2017, Lewis sounded incredible and had yet to lose a step. But since the North Stars event, Lewis has been quiet, and there isn't even a trace of the event on his Instagram

Here's hoping Lewis has been in the lab cooking.

9. Keshia Chanté

If there was one complaint about the All Canadian North Stars event, it's that Keshia Chanté's performance slot was a no-win situation. Hours into the event, while still enthralled by the history (no pun intended) unfolding on-stage, the crowd was readying themselves for an explosive finale, so the R&B/Pop break could have been timed better. 

A fun moment occurred at the beginning of Chanté's set when Drake introduced her as his "first girlfriend" and discussed borrowing his mom's car to see her. Years later, Drake would refer to Chanté in his hit song "In My Feelings" when he said, "Kiki, do you love me," referring to his nickname for his "first girlfriend." 

Chanté launched into her set, which included hits like "Unpredictable," "Shook (The Answer)" (a response record to Shawn Desman's song of the same name), and "Bad Boy." 

Chanté was one artist who didn't need the assist from Drake and OVO that night. Since her early days as an artist on Sony Music Canada, Chanté has become a successful songwriter, actress/host, and entrepreneur with her clean beauty line KHAIR.

8. Rascalz

Amongst a sea of Toronto-based artists performing on July 28, Van-City was represented as Red-1, Misfit, and DJ Kemo took the stage to perform iconic Canadian rap tracks like "Really Livin'" and "Top of the World." 

One of Canada's best emcees, it was clear that Red-1 could still stand toe to toe with the best as he passionately delivered some of the most classic verses in Canadian rap history, including his own on the night's closing track "Northern Touch." 

Since the event, Red-1 and Misfit have remained retired from actively creating music and performances by the group are rare. A special shout-out needs to go to Rascalz affiliate Checkmate who built on his appearance during the night's grand finale, "Northern Touch," by releasing new music mere days after the show and actively promoting his performance on the All Stars show.

7. Maestro

Maestro Fresh Wes stands tall as a Canadian rap icon. Opening the All Canadian North Stars show, Maestro ran through an audio history that laid the foundation for rap music in the great white north. 

Songs like "Conductin' Thangs," "Let Your Backbone Slide," and "Stick To Your Vision" showed a crowd, many of whom weren't alive when Maestro Fresh Wes dropped his debut album, what Canadian rap was all about before the epicentre of the music industry was in Toronto. 

And while Maestro was the first Canadian rap artist to have a top 40 Billboard hit, it wasn't music at the end that Maestro put his stamp on his career and legacy. A successful actor, author, and radio host, Maestro, who now resides in Saint Johns, New Brunswick, younger fans will best know him from his 8 season run on the hit CBC show' Mr. D.' 

Maestro's appearance on the All Canadian North Stars show wasn't about a bump to his career but rather a recognition for the groundwork laid that has allowed Canadian rap music to flourish.

6. Choclair

Choclair's "Let's Ride" was released in 1999 and appeared on the rapper's debut studio album Ice Cold. And when Choclair launched into the song on July 28, 2022, it sounded as fresh that day as it did 20-plus years before. 

Unlike many on the stage during the OVO Fest show, Choclair had remained an active artist and performer over the years, touring regularly and releasing new music with skills remaining as sharp as they were when he released his debut album. Chox is even cashing cheques from insurance companies with his "Ice Cold" instrumental being heard in an Onlia commercial

Since his show-stealing performances of classics like "Ice Cold" during the OVO All Stars show, Choclair has continued to perform his classic catalogue across Canada, including a recent stop in Vancouver where he joined many of his North All-Stars comrades, including Kardinal, Rascalz, and Maestro.

5. Saukrates

Saukrates was Drake before Drake was Drake. A Toronto hip-hop legend, the story of Saukrates is one of incredible highs and challenging lows. When Drake announced the artists performing on the All Canadian North Stars show, it would be a fair guess that at least 50 percent of the people who saw it were most excited about Saukrates. 

His performance during the show was under tough circumstances, with him sharing that he had attended a family funeral the same day. But in true Soxx fashion, he rose to the occasion delivering a captivating performance of "The Come Up," switching the lyrics to say, "and Drake is killin', he sitting on like half a billion." 

Quiet leading up to the All Canadian North Stars show, it has been amazing to see Saukrates more back in the mix since. In the spring of this year, Soxx released a collaboration with the Washington Capitals, rapping about the team's history and the city. He has also been performing more, releasing teasers on his IG and even dropping freestyles over Canadian classics like Kardinal Offishall's "Ol Time Killin."  

There is a true run left in Saukrates. Hopefully, this one brings the recognition and riches he rightfully deserves as a leader of the Canadian hip-hop movement and one of its icons.

4. Jully Black

Jully Black is a national treasure. Canada's "Queen of R&B," Jully's stage presence is commanding, and such was the case on the night of the All Canadian North Stars show. Jully's set had a little bit of everything. Kicking off with the traditional Gospel song "This Little Light of Mine," Jully ran through her hits and closed with an incredible cover of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." 

A staple of the Canadian music industry, Jully's presence on-stage was one of the most important elements of the night, drawing connections back to the foundations of black music in Canada. In the same month as her appearance at Drake's OVO show, Jully premiered as a contestant on Amazing Race Canada. 

Since the event, Jully has continued to make waves, including singing the Canadian National Anthem at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game and changing the lyrics from "our home and native land" to "our home on native land," drawing calls to officially change the lyrics of the Anthem.

3. K-OS

When standing next to Drake on stage, it's difficult, if not impossible, to have the crowd focused on you instead. But that's exactly what K-OS did during his performance slot on the All Canadian North Stars show. 

With Drake side stage and at times on stage during his set, including for an abbreviated and intoxicated version of "Headlines," K-OS confidently reminded the crowd not only why he was there but that he has a music catalogue to rival some of the greatest artists in the game. Records like "Heaven Only Knows," "Sunday Morning," and the still-to-this-day impossibly funky and dope "Man I Used To Be." 

K-OS, who has remained an active touring artist but hasn't released an album of new material since 2015's 'Can't Fly Without Gravity,' has used his IG stories over the past year to hint that he is recording a new album, including showing IG posts with him and legendary producer Bob Rock as well as Drake's producer 40.

2. Shawn Desman

On the morning of the All Canadian North Stars show, Canadian pop and R&B legend Shawn Desman appeared on City TV's Breakfast Television and told then-host Dina Pugliese and current host Sid Seixeiro that he was going to "tear the roof off" of History nightclub at that night's event. One could forgive someone hearing this saying, "Really? Shawn Desman?" given that he was amongst names like Saukrates, Choclair, Keshia Chante, and others, and Desman himself hadn't been heard from much in recent years. 

But tearing the roof off is exactly what Desman did. Donning the night's most memorable outfit, Desman hit the stage in bright fluorescent green shorts and a sleeveless hooded tactical vest and proceeded to dive into a medley of his hits, and there are many. Beginning with the undeniable Much Music staple from back in the day, "Get Ready," Desman had the crowd singing word for word commanding the stage and delivering his catalogue as if he hadn't missed a beat. 

Since the show, one could argue that Shawn Desman has done the most with the shared spotlight with Drake. In October last year, Desman released "Maniac," his first new music since 2015. The song couldn't be ignored with its 80s-tinged pop vibes and quickly shot to the top 10 at Top 40 radio in Canada. Desman has also returned to doing shows and is preparing to release his follow-up single to "Maniac," "Love Me With The Lights On," very soon.

1. Kardinal Offishall

To say that Kardinal Offishall has been on a run since the North Stars event is a vast understatement. And while it would be unfair to say that the event is the reason for his recent successes, the show was an opportunity for Drake to share some words about the man many see as the architect for the Toronto and Canadian hip-hop scene we have today. 

When Kardinal closed his set by performing "Ol' Time Killin'," Drake promised he was the only one allowed to drop the record that night. The result was an atmosphere that was hard to describe as the stage lights were brought down and cell phones and lighters went in the air as the stage crowded with many pioneers and builders of the Toronto hip-hop scene as Kardi performed "Ol' Time Killin'" as if he weren't at History but rather at a bashment jam in Jamaica. 

Since the event, Kardinal has set the country and the music industry on fire. Earlier this year, it was announced that he had been named Global A&R at the historic label Def Jam where Kardi is currently working with artists like upstart Houston rapper Marqus Clae and Dancehall veteran Masicka. And this past year, Kardi was all over TV screens in Canada as a judge on the popular competition TV series Canada's Got Talent alongside superstars like Trish Stratus and Howie Mandel. 

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