Today see's the release of Drake's fifth studio album 'Scorpion'. To celebrate I've compiled a list of what I believe is Drake's top 10 songs to date, to keep it relevant to Toronto's self-proclaimed 6 God I've decided not to include any of his guest verses, instead this is purely self-released material. The good thing about opinions and lists is that there is bound to be some conflict, you're not going to agree with all of my choices, I even struggled to compile a definitive 10. So please, read my list, then offer your own thoughts on Drakes vast discography in the comments below.
Get It Together
Feat. Jorja Smith
& Black Coffee
ALBUM: More Life
Over the past two years, Drake has really fallen in love with British music, Over in the UK he’s signed to the Boy Better Know label whilst championing one of its British founders Skepta in his home continent. He’s even collaborated with the likes of upcoming rapper Giggs and Mercury Prize winner Sampha (on more than one occasion).
One of the crucial meeting of minds and merging of cultures, even perhaps his most underrated, however, is his collaboration with Jorja Smith who contributes her spellbinding and soulful vocals to ‘Get It Together’. The upcoming, young, British songstress has garnered a lot of acclaim in her home country, yet she was still relatively unknown when Drake brought her onboard to sing over the entrancing beats of Black Coffee’s Caribbean flavoured house track ‘Superman’. It can be argued Drake hardly features on the track, only offering his vocals on the chorus, however, he works as a conductor blending a mixture of cultures to create an under-appreciated dancehall classic that showcases a completely different side to the 6 God than what we’re used to… and that should be celebrated.
ALBUM: More Life
Drake takes a lot of stick for his ‘sadboy’ and emotional persona that has appeared frequently throughout his career, unfortunately for his detractors it also leads to some of his most creative and inspired material. His rumoured relationship with Jennifer Lopez was seemingly brief but obviously meaningful enough to completely flip one of her biggest hits ‘If You Had My Love’.
Local Toronto producer Hagler used his grief and turmoil to create the beautiful yet harrowing beat which Drake pours his emotions over. The result is a series of verses that are full of regret, as he reminisces over a relationship with Ms Lopez, one of his own teenage pin-up idols. Using a J-Lo sample could have been seen as incredibly corny move, if not petty, but considering how he’s handled the subject matter and transformed it into a more self-respective look at their relationship, it instead comes across as iconic and incredibly moving.
Nice For What /
PRODUCER: Nice For What - Corey Litwin, Noah "40" Shebib, BlaqNmilD & Murda Beatz
Gods Plan - Cardo, Noah "40" Shebib, Yung Exclusive & Boi-1da
For 8th position, I’ve in fact cheated and chose two songs to share the position. Both ‘Nice For What’ and ‘Gods Plan’ have become Drake’s most recent global hits but the similarities don’t end just there. Both tracks are uplifting and joyous jams that celebrate modern culture, albeit in slightly different ways, yet achieving the same tremendous result. It’s also worth noting they both hit that sweet 3 and half minute sweet spot a radio jam should aim for.
‘Nice For What’ incorporates Lauryn Hill’s ‘Ex-Factor’, switching it from a 90’s RnB ballad into a modern club track. It features in both it’s video and lyrics a very present message of celebrating females, thankfully minus all the sleaziness that’s been very prominent in recent years, even Drake himself has been guilty of objectifying women in his lyrics, however, this is a positive step. It also has an incredibly addictive beat which calls you to the dance floor.
Some tracks are just inescapable, It feels as if 2018 has been taken over ‘Gods Plan’. Drake’s verses are surprisingly soft, straddling the line between Rap and RnB effortlessly. It’s also incredibly hard to make the lyrics the most prominent aspect of your song, however, despite it’s steady and pleasant beat, your ears remain fully focused to the snappy rhymes that have been designed to be latched onto and repeated for months to come in clubs and Instagram captions. It’s still to be seen whether this year will have a more instantly recognisable line than “She tells me ‘do you love me?’ I tell her only partly, I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry”.
feat. Rick Ross
ALBUM: Take Care
PRODUCER: Just Blaze
Luxury rap at its finest, ‘Lord Knows’ sounds like it’s been dipped in solid gold and wore as a trophy by Drake for everyone to see. Despite only being on his sophomore album Drake spends almost five minutes unleashing himself onto the veterans of the scene. Clearly spurred on by featuring artist and king of the brag, Rick Ross,
When recording the track for the album, Drake would never have dreamt of the success ‘Take Care’ would achieve, this makes his cocky and impassioned verses that much more powerful. Of course, the gospel choir and Just Blaze produced crushing beat certainly provide an extra decadent feel to the track.
It also features, undeniably one of Drakes best verses, he goes as far to acknowledges affairs with porn stars and even the desire of the media to bring out your darkest secrets and use them against you. Now seven years later with Pusha T bringing Adonis, Drake's lovechild to light, suddenly the track becomes more relevant than ever before.
“They take the greats from the past and compare us, I wonder if they'd ever survive in this era, In a time where it's recreation to pull all your skeletons out the closet like Halloween decorations, I know of all the things that I hear they be poking fun at, Never the flow though, they know I run that”
Back to Back
PRODUCER: Drake, Noah "40" Shebib & NAV
Speaking of ‘rap beef’ the next track on the list takes us back to 2015 when Drake found himself embroiled in a war of words with Meek Mill. Not only highly considered to be the track which saw Drake win their battle but it's also in fact, the first ever diss track to be nominated for a Grammy award.
Created in only an hour, it features Drake holding back no punches as he raps the now iconic lines “You getting bodied by a singing n***a” and “Is it a world tour or your girls tour?”. The number of topics and jabs Drake fires could take paragraphs to dissect, yet he manages to cover such a wide range in just a simple, rapid 2 min 50 timespan.
It’s full of energy, incredibly disrespectful and highly replayable, surely the perfect combination for a diss track. It's not just in this list because of it’s significance, but also for its incredibly well-composed lyricism and hard-hitting delivery. It’s just unfortunate Drake never found the same level of quality when facing off against Pusha T, of course with Scorpion just around the corner there’s still time.
One Dance /
feat. Kyla & Wizkid)
PRODUCER: One Dance - Nineteen85
Hotline Bling - Nineteen85
The fifth position is also shared by another two tracks which marked a significant shift in style and momentum for Drake, whilst taking his mainstream career to a completely stratospheric new level. ‘Hotline Bling’ dominated the summer of 2015 and took everyone by surprise with as Drake said, more ‘sunnier’ beat than we were accustomed too. It’s no surprise its easily singable and modern interpretation of Caribbean culture would become such a global smash,
In context, the Jamaican styled track would come off the back of Drake’s hardest and rawest material to date (the ‘If Your Reading This It’s Too Late’ and ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ mixtapes) yet its influence would actually direct the next phase of his career for the following couple years.
That was only the start of Drake’s dabbling in world infused dance music, the formula being improved upon the following summer with ‘One Dance’ an Afrobeat-inspired single which would see Drake finding inspiration in an old British dance track (Kyla’s ‘Do You Mind’) and interlacing it with an African styled version of Dancehall which with its seductive lyrics made it a much more sultry affair built for dance floor grinding compared to the more casual and lighthearted nature of ‘Hotline Bling’. Both, however, are now iconic and ingrained into your mind, every lyric simply floods back into your mind when that first beat hits. They maybe Drakes most mainstream singles but they're also two of his best.
ALBUM: More Life
PRODUCER: Nana Rogues
Drake would continue experimenting with different styles of tropical beats and Dancehall influenced music on previous release ‘More Life’ with the smooth ‘Passionfruit’. What could have easily been a now dated recreation of the genre which saw Drake find his biggest success, instead became yet another highlight of the 6 God’s extensive discography.
By working alongside upcoming producer (‘Nana Rogues’) who wasn’t afraid to take risks and experiment, Drake landed upon a beat which would mix House music, Caribbean influences and even a flute before Drake would then sing over with arguably his most melodic and smouldering vocal performance to date. It’s a strange yet perfect juxtaposition as you find you can't help but two-step to the sounds of Drake’s relationship “Falling apart”.
Over My Dead Body
ALBUM: Take Care
PRODUCER: Noah "40" Shebib
Drake and Noah “40” Shebib is without a doubt the best relationship in the game, their pairing has crafted some of Aubrey's best material and undoubtedly his signature album with ‘Take Care’. One moment from that record that seems permanently etched into my memory is opening track ‘Over My Dead Body’, every lyric is iconic and I find myself able to recite it line for line, despite never hearing it on the radio or at a party once. That for me is a sign of a truly great track, one which becomes naturally significant.
It’s both sparse with its delicate piano melody yet full of life with it’s highly focused and prominent verses. the track continues to pair opposites as we find Drake deeply reflective yet utterly jubilant of his debut albums accomplishments. Not to mention featuring some of his greatest lines, how many rappers can open an entire record with "I think I killed everybody in the game last year, fuck it I was on, though” but yet sound completely justified in saying so.
6PM In New York
ALBUM: If You're Reading This It's Too Late
‘If You’re Not Reading This It’s Too Late’ can be considered the most stripped back record of Drake’s career, it focuses on harder beats and faster raps which are unforgivingly aimed at various “haters”. The true beauty and standout of the record is a little-hidden gem which concludes the release.
‘6PM In New York’ is the bonus track, one which I feel has become completely overlooked by critics and fans alike when taking a retrospective look at Drakes career. Partly focused on Tyga, who is mercilessly taken apart by Drake in just a few words “You need to act your age and not your girl’s age” whilst he also spends four straight minutes calling out many unnamed figures in the industry “To think labels said they had a problem marketing me”.
It’s Drake at his most ruthless and creative “Being number 2 is just the first to lose”, he even goes as far as to sneak in a hook “Oh you gotta love it!” into a song without a defined chorus. When his outburst finishes, you’re left with a minute aftermath that is just pure, lighthearted moments of elation from the Toronto rapper, that we’re simply just not accustomed to. From the way he sniggers amidst the swirling synths, to the way he flippantly remarks “I know your girl well, just not in public”… you’ve just gotta love it.
ALBUM: Take Care
PRODUCER: Noah "40" Shebib
Personally, for me, the standout track from Drakes career is ‘Marvins Room’. Despite being released over seven years ago it still remains the perfect encapsulation of everything Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham is capable of. A combination of his soulful RnB side on the chorus as he can be heard pleading to his ex "I'm just sayin' you could do better, Tell me, have you heard that lately?" with his darker more intense side, such has on a quick firing third verse which sums up the price of money and fame on relationships. "I got some women that's livin' off me, Paid for their flights and hotels, I'm ashamed."
You cannot criticise Drakes commitment to authenticity, When he utilised his actual ex girlfriends voicemails to open up the track, he also opened himself up to multiple lawsuits that followed. The decision to use his actual ‘drunk dials’ is inspired and adds a personal touch to the song.
It’s incredibly catchy and easily the best RnB song released since the genre’s peak in the early 2000’s. Not to mention the fact it’s incredibly well layered and full of depth, from the steady pounding beat that guides the track, to the phone style static between voicemails. The rap during the final verse is fierce yet incredibly smooth, starting off as an outburst before blending into a cry for help. This is all topped off, with a surprising, oriental style piano suite which paints an image of a desolate Drake sitting down and writing the ballad, perhaps at a grand piano, in a mansion tucked up in Beverley Hills.
Drake has a way of sharing his sadness that makes you feel emphatic rather than pitiful. Like previously mentioned, it’s led to some cheap shots at his openly emotional personality. He certainly receives a lot more compared to the other high profile rappers who pride themselves on showcasing a sense of bravado, but it’s also a unique trait which has allowed him to craft tracks as marvellous as “Over My Dead Body” and “Marvins Room”.