On December 9, 2021, rap music fans watched in amazement as Drake and Kanye, who have made it into countless news headlines for their feuds, finally made up and performed at Los Angeles’ Coliseum, in the “Free Larry Hoover” benefit concert. This concert was set up to not only bring attention to and raise money for Larry Hoover, a powerful gangster who supposedly changed his ways and chose to bring attention to sentencing and police reform, but to signify to the world that the “beef” between the two had been squashed.
Larry Hoover was born on November 30, 1950 and grew up in Chicago. He got his first taste of the gangster lifestyle by joining the “Supreme Gangsters”, at the age of 13. Hoover spent many years with them and over time his role in the growing gang became greater. Hoover gained even more power after another notorious gang leader, David Barksdale, was shot and killed, leaving most of the remaining “business opportunities” to Hoover.
Gang life took a bad turn for Hoover after this, as he was arrested for the murder of William Young, and was sentenced to 150 to 200 years in prison. Hoover quickly found his way around the prison and built up his influence around the prison. Officials knew how valuable he could be, and many pressured him to spread good morals, which he did. He reformed his ways and gained new values from the biography of the former Chicago Mayor, Richard J. Daley. Inspired, he also “made education mandatory for members of the Gangster Disciples and instructed his army to ‘go to school, learn trades and develop ... talents and skills, so that we will become stronger in society.’” He changed his gang’s name to “Growth and Development”, and started making nonprofit organizations, a music label for children, and other things to help Chicago.
His friends began lobbying for him to get out of jail, but officials thought his positivity was simply a pity ploy. After suspicious reports, investigations revealed that the nonprofits and his other initiatives were used as assets in a money-laundering case to disguise their millions made from drug dealing. Hoover was further sentenced to six lifetime sentences in 1997. Since then, Drake, Kanye, and others have called for him to be freed, which will most likely amount to nothing.
To many, the most surprising aspect of the concert was how the two rappers ended their petty fights, which have been on and off since 2010, according to NME. Before Drake’s studio debut album “Thank Me Later” dropped, there was only respect and love between Kanye and Drake. This didn’t last though, as Kanye refused to work with Drake because he was “too big,” and later released his hit song “All of the Lights,” but without any of Drake’s verses, which was leaked months earlier.
This confusion over song credit and social status lead to many explicit references through music and countless shady comments made towards and about one another. In the leadup to Kanye’s recent album “Donda,” Kanye posted Drake’s house on Twitter and leaked his address, while also posting text chains with Virgil Abloh, where he complained to the former creator director of Louis Vuitton about giving Drake a gift instead of himself. While their feud was the culmination of many things, somewhat of a climax came when just after Kanye released the album “Donda,” Drake released his recent project: “Certified Lover Boy,” and it seemed that he wanted to let his music do the talking.
While the “Free Larry Hoover” concert may not do what it’s title states, it was a hit to many, streaming on Amazon Prime in over 240 countries. Each rapper was prepared for the concert with impressive setlists from their countless hits. One standout was “Runaway” from Kanye, where he changed out the memorable ending and used new verses to try and lure ex-wife Kim Kardashian back to him. This showcase of two of the best two rappers in history didn’t disappoint. Whether Drake and Kanye have permanently resolved their differences, time will ultimately tell.