It’s big enough news that New Orleans rap veteran Lil Wayne and ultra-popular Canadian singer/rapper Drake — who started his career on Wayne’s Young Money label — are bringing their 31-city “Vs.” tour to Auburn’s White River Ampitheatre Sunday, Sept. 14.
But to make it even more of a late-summer blockbuster, the event pits the multiplatinum, Grammy-winning artists against each other in true “Street Fighter” fashion — offering a downloadable smartphone app that allows showgoers to send “Power Ups” to stage screens to boost either Drake’s or Lil Wayne’s meter.(The Drake Vs. Lil Wayne app is available for free download from iTunes and Google Play.)
At this point, Drake definitely has an edge on the 31-year-old Lil Wayne, whose 2013 solo release “I Am Not a Human Being II” sounded like an unfocused, distinct step down from his 2011 “Tha Carter IV,” though he is set to release its sequel “Tha Carter V” in late October. Unsurprisingly, the forthcoming album’s first single, “Believe Me,” features Drake, who is as popular now as Lil Wayne was during his peak years.
When Drake isn’t appearing courtside at what seems like every televised NBA game, hosting the ESPY Awards or “Saturday Night Live,” or releasing radio hits like the ’80s yacht-pop-tinged “Just Hold On We’re Going Home” and the anthemic “0 to 100,” he’s been hopping on more underground, buzzworthy tracks by Atlanta rappers.
Last year it was cartoon-trap trio Migos’ repetitive ode to designer clothes, “Versace.” Months ago it was Makonnen’s remix of “Club Goin Up On a Tuesday,” which gained the emotive singer an entirely new demographic of listeners.
But while 27-year-old Drake may have an edge on Lil Wayne in the current rap/R&B market — and likely among fans who download iPhone apps that accompany concerts — the Crescent City rapper’s dramatic rise makes Drake’s early career look absolutely sluggish and tame.
The Canadian got his start acting on the teen TV drama series “Degrassi” when he was 15 years old and remained a regular character on the show for seven seasons. Lil Wayne released his first album, “Get It How U Live!” as part of the legendary Southern rap quartet The Hot Boy$ when he was the same age, in 1997, and released his solo debut “Tha Block Is Hot” two years later.
But the past aside, the “Vs.” tour is a win-win-win — for both rappers, who are still technically on the same team — or rather label family — and for the fans who get to witness two of this generation’s biggest names perform competitively.
Drake Vs. Lil Wayne
7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at White River Amphitheatre, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Road, Auburn; $30-$250 (360-825-6200 or ticketmaster.com).