The 100 Best Drake Songs
The 6 God’s finest moments, from global club smashes to somber late-night confessionals, from killer freestyles to legendary collabs and beyond
It’s not hard to find 100 Drake songs worth compiling into a list of his best work. In an era when rappers drop multiple albums/mixtapes/”projects”/whatever in a calendar year, the Toronto artist also known as Aubrey Drake Graham has been as prolific as anyone. On Nov. 4, he’ll release Her Loss, a full-length collaboration with Atlanta-via-London rapper 21 Savage. It’s his third project in just over 12 months, following Certified Lover Boy from September 2021, and Honestly, Nevermind last June. There’s a surplus of material, and more than a few standouts to appreciate.
Yet some rap fans sick of hearing about the 6 God will complain: Why does Drake need more shine? Since scoring his first Billboard top-two hit with “Best I Ever Had” in 2009, he’s been omnipresent, as unavoidable as the weather. Just as his incredible chart success has brought him pop ubiquity, so has it fueled a chorus of naysayers who won’t accept him as one of the greats, whether that’s among past heroes such as Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, or current icons like Kendrick Lamar, Future, and Young Thug. His tabloid romances with women both famous and relatively unknown, his meme-able videos, and his very public and ostentatious display of wealth all seem to distract from serious discussion and, yes, appreciation of his music.
If a list like this can accomplish anything, then it’s to refocus attention on his art. His catalog may be thematically narrow, circling around familiar stories of growing up in Canada, grinding away in home studios in search of a distinctive sound, and achieving instant global fame along with all the problems that brings. But it’s a rich sonic tapestry. There are clear differences between “Find Your Love” and “Passionfruit,” two songs on which he memorably exploded the concept of the rapper as crooner. His verbal techniques and vocal cadences on “Energy” are more sophisticated than early cuts such as “Headlines.” And while his portraits of women remain a work in progress, there’s clear growth from the paternalism of “Houstatlantavegas” to the exuberant celebration of female persistence that is “Nice for What.”
Even the most hardened rap nerd will concede that “Crew Love” was a moment, and “Jumpman” sounds great when cranked up to 11 in an arena; a few might even admit that they retweeted a meme inspired by “Hotline Bling.” Maybe Drake has had so many hits, whether they’re the Billboard kind or simply songs that impacted the culture, that it’s easy to blur them all together. After all, he’s arguably the unofficial king of streaming who seemingly reigns all year round from June to June, as GZA once rapped. But it’s worth sifting through the wheat of Drake’s career, and figuring out which songs are flawed gems, bright diamonds, or rough drafts that led to better pieces. Nearly 20 years after the release of his debut mixtape, Room for Improvement, it’s time to dig deeper.
100. ‘Replacement Girl,’ feat. Trey Songz | 2007
“Replacement Girl,” a single from Drake’s second mixtape, “Comeback Season,” caused a stir in the music industry when it became the first video by an unsigned artist to be aired on BET. Lil Wayne won the resulting bidding war, signing Drake to his Young Money imprint in 2009. Trey Songz, then one of the hottest singers in R&B, dominates the track. However, the Toronto newcomer gets off a few decent bars, bragging, “I’m a good dude, take pride in that.”
99. ‘Girls Want Girls,’ feat. Lil Baby | 2021
“Said that you’re a lesbian, well, me, too,” raps Drake in a singsong voice. Yes, it’s kinda creepy, though he says the line in such a harmlessly goofy way that it’s difficult to take as a threat. As pop-rap seduction, it still works, thanks in part to Lil Baby’s rapid-fire melodic-rap verse.
98. ‘Make Me Proud,’ feat. Nicki Minaj | 2011
It’s a big pop collaboration between two rap superstars, with Drake serving as setup man for Nicki Minaj’s showstopping, rapid-fire flow. Meanwhile, his verse commiserates with a female crush as he raps, “Used to niggas coming on too strong girl/They want you in their life as a wife.” His stabs at empathy may sound like typical seduction lines, but they’re heartfelt nevertheless.
97. ‘Tuesday,’ iLoveMakonnen feat. Drake | 2014
When iLoveMakonnen’s “Tuesday” began blowing up online, Drake gave it a turbo boost, signing the Atlanta rapper-singer to his OVO label and jumping on a remix of the track. The result turns Drake into a familiar mainstream anchor for Makonnen’s strangely airy and melodic vocals, even though the performance clearly belongs to the latter. The two eventually had a falling out and Makonnen left OVO; although he never capitalized on the success of “Tuesday,” he earned kudos for his behind-the-scenes work as a songwriter and producer with acts like Lil Peep.
96. ‘Aston Martin Music,’ Rick Ross feat. Drake and Chrisette Michele | 2010
Drake isn’t heard much on “Aston Martin Music.” He shares the chorus with Michele as he croons about how he can’t let someone go despite being “caught in the life.” Still, his romantic R&B aesthetic dominates the track, and even though Ross does all the rapping, it comes off as a Drake outtake. He used the same J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League beat for a loosie leaked to the internet, “Paris Morton Music,” and a verse from that track was used on the video version of “Aston Martin Music.”
95. ‘Lust for Life’ | 2009
As the opening track on his breakthrough mixtape, So Far Gone, Drake’s “Lust for Life” immediately sets a soft, melodic tone that veers between melancholic introspection and humblebrag boasts about his growing fame. 40’s lush beat samples the polyrhythmic drum programming from Tears for Fears’ “Ideas as Opiates”; Drake also uses the “put your ones up in the air for her” phrase for “Houstatlantavegas.”
94. ‘Gyalchester’ | 2017
Set over an iBeatz trap rhythm and featuring ad-libs by OVO member Baka Not Nice, “Gyalchester” finds Drake dropping bars with a halting flow for maximum impact, with “I switch flows like I switch time zones” and “I’m never washed but I’m not new” among the claims.
93. ‘What’s Next’ | 2021
“What’s Next” kicks off with Drake dipping into a bounce cadence over a beat from Maneesh and Supah Mario. “I’m making a change today/The liquor been takin’ the pain away,” he raps in full boss mode. “I sit in the box where the owners do.”
92. ‘Trophies,’ Young Money feat. Drake | 2014
“My stock been going up like a crescendo,” raps Drake on his only contribution to the Young Money compilation Rise of an Empire. It finds Drake touting his superstar status. But the moment feels bittersweet as Lil Wayne and Birdman’s decades-long relationship was fracturing, while breakout acts like Drake and Nicki Minaj moved on to build their own empires.
91. ‘Talk to Me,’ Drakeo the Ruler feat. Drake | 2021
Released just after Drakeo the Ruler was released from prison and months before he was murdered, “Talk to Me” may be one of Drake’s most powerful co-signs. It’s a cut made for radio DJs, and Drake harmonizes to a crush while warning, “We might slide on a nigga inside this club/Girl close your eyes.” More importantly, it gave the L.A. rapper a final moment of mainstream visibility before his untimely demise.
90. ‘Forever,’ Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem | 2009
“I want this shit forever, man,” Drake harmonizes on the lead single to the Lebron James documentary More Than a Game. It’s a key part of his 2009 explosion, pairing him with mentor Lil Wayne and key influence Kanye West as well as Eminem. Heard today, though, some of West’s lyrics may sound suspect: “I had raped the game young, you can call it statutory.”
89. ‘Over My Dead Body’ | 2011
Although it includes an unfortunate pun about Asian people (“Shout out to Asian girls, let the lights dim sum”), “Over My Dead Body” is still one of Drake’s most memorable album openers. Singer Chantal Kreviazuk offers a fantastically distorted vocal over 40’s momentous, piano-based production, while Drizzy brags about how he was “killing everyone in the game last year,” and promises — and delivers — more of the same.
88. ‘Uptown,’ Drake feat. Bun B and Lil Wayne | 2009
Drake has often touted his connection to Houston, Texas — Jas Prince, son of famed Rap-A-Lot music executive James Prince, was an early investor in Drake’s career. That sense of place is heard on “Uptown Shit,” where Arthur McArthur and Boi-1da crafts a swanging-and-banging beat with a slowed-down loop of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” Meanwhile, Bun B claims, “I wrote this on my iPhone/So let me drop this iBomb,” and Lil Wayne says he’s an “all-American bad boy.”
87. ‘MÍA,’ Bad Bunny feat. Drake | 2018
Bad Bunny does most of the heavy lifting on his first U.S. Billboard Top 10 hit as a leader, twisting “MÍA”’s lyrics about adoration with his supple, bass-y voice. But give credit to Drake for meeting the Puerto Rican superstar on his terms, singing in Spanish with a soft, easy croon that doesn’t upset the rhythm.
86. ‘Wants and Needs,” feat. Lil Baby | 2021
It’s another face-off between the 6 God and the new king of Atlanta. Lil Baby arguably comes off the best, firing off lines that peak with an allusion to Drake’s famed “YOLO” ethos. “I’m screamin’ out ‘YOLO,’ yeah, that’s still the motto/I know I be on some shit that they ain’t thought of,” he raps. Meanwhile, Drake gets petty and snarks about longtime frenemy Kanye West’s Christian faith: “I should probably go link with Yeezy, I need me some Jesus.”
85. ‘Money to Blow,’ Birdman feat. Drake and Lil Wayne | 2009
Originally recorded as a Drake demo, the Drumma Boy-produced “Money to Blow” is largely memorable for his sung chorus: “They can’t help it/And I can’t blame them/Since I got famous/Bitch, I got money to blow/Gettin’ it in/Lettin’ these bills fall all over your skin.” Yes, Birdman and Lil Wayne are on this strip-club hit, too. But Drake’s the one on the rise, and he knows it.
84. ‘Houstatlantavegas’ | 2009
“Houstatlantavegas” finds Drake deep in his R&B bag as he muses aloud about an exotic dancer working NBA All-Star weekends. “She lives in a mindset that I could never move to/Until you find yourself it’s impossible to lose you,” he raps, somewhat paternalistically. Sequenced at the beginning of his breakthrough mixtape So Far Gone, it announced to 2009 listeners that they were encountering a uniquely melodic artist.
83. ‘Moment 4 Life,’ Nicki Minaj feat. Drake | 2010
With producer T-Minus’ soaring melodies, “Moment 4 Life” captures an era in rap defined by pop aesthetics and arena-size ambitions. It’s as much a tribute to Lil Wayne’s Young Money crew as a pairing between the label’s two biggest signings. “Young Money the mafia, that’s word to Lil Cease,” raps Drake on his verse. Meanwhile, Nicki says, “Young Money raised me” even as the pink princess proves that she calls her own shots.
82. ‘Girls Love Beyoncé’ feat. James Fauntleroy | 2013
Released in 2013 as an outtake from the Nothing Was the Same sessions, this 40-produced internet loosie finds Drake in seduction mode as Fauntleroy reprises the chorus from the Destiny’s Child track “Say My Name.” In a sign of how Drake tends to recycle catchphrases in songs throughout his career, his singsong line “No new friends, no, no, no, no” also turns up as the chorus of DJ Khaled’s 2013 hit “No New Friends.”
81. ‘Teenage Fever’ | 2017
On this track, Drake summons the complications of teen romance: He meets someone in a club, then regrets hanging out with her instead of going home to his girl. Meanwhile, a slurry loop of Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love” programmed by Marvin “Hagler” Thomas serves as his conscience.
80. ‘Sneakin’,’ Drake feat. 21 Savage | 2016
Since first collaboration “Sneakin’,” 21 Savage has become one of Drake’s most frequent collaborators. The Atlanta rapper has paired with the Toronto superstar on numerous songs since, with a joint full-length, Her Loss, due out Nov. 4. “Sneakin’” demonstrates why: Their approaches are a stark but charismatic contrast. Drake reminisces, “I used to hit my tees with Febreze” before megastardom, while 21 Savage proves why he’s “AKA the reaper.”
79. ‘Over’ | 2010
Heard today, “Over” sounds remarkably precocious and youthful. “What am I doing? Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m doing me,” he harmonizes before offering now-dated hashtag puns like “’Bout to set it off, Jada Pinkett” and “Two thumbs up, Ebert and Roeper” while quoting Bob Marley and dead prez. The self-proclaimed “overnight” success still sounded like an arriviste, which may be why other bestselling rappers tended to “little-bro me,” as he’d later remark. Still, he’s clearly having fun, and the orchestral fanfare produced by Boi-1da and Nick Brongers complements him.
78. ‘Amen,’ Meek Mill feat. Drake | 2012
Meek Mill’s gleeful use of gospel tropes, courtesy of an organ melody inspired by the Doobie Brothers’ soft-rock chestnut “Minute by Minute,” turned “Amen” into an unexpected controversy during the summer of 2012. Numerous Christian rappers spoke out against a song where the Philly artist testifies with cheeky amorality, “I just want to thank God for all the pretty women he let into my life.” Meanwhile, Drake uses the occasion to pay tribute to his friends, rapping, “I just hope that I’m forgiven for caring ‘bout how they livin’/And loaning a little money and keepin’ ‘em out of prison.”
77. ‘Yes Indeed,’ Lil Baby feat. Drake | 2018
“Yes Indeed” clearly belongs to Lil Baby, who swerves and glides with a flow that seemingly turns every line into a quotable catchphrase. But Drake acquits himself well, kicking off the Wheezy and B-Rackz-produced song in a deliberately deadpan voice as he raps, “The dash is digi/The schedule is busy/My head in a hoodie/My shorty a goody.”
76. ‘I Get Lonely’ | 2010
Drake’s cover of the intro to TLC’s Fan Mail originally dropped as a teaser for his never-released R&B mixtape, It’s Never Enough. “You could be lonely with a bunch of people around you,” he told MTV.com when asked how the song (originally titled “I Get Lonely Too)” resonates with him. It arrived when he promised to be a dual R&B/rap threat before decidedly planting his roots in the latter, and he sings with noted emotional commitment.
75. ‘No New Friends,’ DJ Khaled feat. Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross | 2013
“No New Friends” finds Drake reusing a phrase he originally coined on his internet loosie “Girls Love Beyoncé.” The chorus weaves together this hit cipher about living large and loving life; and serves as a sequel to the three rappers’ appearance on DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One.” “Ever since YouTube/Niggas been callin’ me the leader of the new school,” boasts Drake. Meanwhile, Ross crows about trips to Turks and Caicos. Lil Wayne quips, “They throw dirt on my name/Well, that’s why they still dig me.”
74. ‘Big Rings’ Drake and Future | 2015
“Big Rings” might be the Drake and Future song you’re most likely to hear during an NBA game. (The Golden State Warriors used it during their 2021-22 championship-ring ceremony.) Produced by Metro Boomin, it’s full of loud, emphatic keyboards and trap bass meant to reach the folks in the cheap seats, and Drake yells “‘Cause I’ve got a really big team/And they need some really big rings!” More than another fanfare-induced album opener — also see “Over,” “Headlines,” et cetera — it’s an example of how Drake not only excels at intimate dramas, but also knows how to conjure big pop moments.
73. ‘The Ride’ | 2011
The Weeknd’s mostly wordless chorus dominates this showcase of two Toronto artists entering megastardom. The second verse is a highlight: Drake uses second-person perspective to recall his days when he wasted gas-and-phone-bills money on champagne and tried to build a buzz for himself at local clubs. “Tellin’ stories that nobody relate to/And even though they hate you/They just keep on you tellin’ you, they feel you, nigga,” he raps.
72. ‘Jodeci Freestyle’ feat. J. Cole | 2013
This internet loosie dropped in 2013, reuniting the two rappers for the first time since Cole’s mixtape track “In the Morning.” Drake is his typical boastful self over a glossy, synth-heavy Bink! and 40 beat, claiming that he’s “26 on my third GQ cover” and that he can “still talk keys without pitching cane.” Meanwhile, Cole uses his verse to rue publications that don’t give him his due: “Your covers too Complex for me/Maybe it’s too complex for me.” Unfortunately, the “Jodeci Freestyle” spectacle was overshadowed by controversy over a Cole bar about autism and the two artists’ subsequent apology.
71. ‘HYFR (Hell Ya Fuckin’ Right),’ feat. Lil Wayne | 2011
“HYFR” stands out for its unexpectedly winning chorus, and how it signifies Lil Wayne’s pop-punk crossover ambitions. “They say, ‘Hell yeah, hell yeah, fuckin’ right,’” he and Drake shout out like two righteous dudes at a frat-boy kegger. Meanwhile, producer T-Minus loops up E.S.G.’s “Swangin’ and Bangin’,” leading Drake to observe, “All my exes live in Texas like I’m George Strait.”
70. ‘Look Alive,’ BlocBoy JB and Drake | 2018
A Drake co-sign can be a gift and a curse, since his celebrity inevitably overshadows the newcomer that he works with. That’s arguably the case with “Look Alive,” a hit single that introduced Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB to a mainstream audience. With his deadpan delivery and coldhearted chorus, Drake takes over the track, rapping laconically “Oh, well, fuck ‘em dog, we gon’ see how hard they ride.”
69. ‘You & the 6’ | 2015
“You and the 6” is one of many Drake songs that sound like an open letter to his mother, Sandi Graham. The format helps him make a few insightful confessions, as when he remembers, “I used to get teased for being Black and now I’m here and I’m not Black enough/’Cause I’m not acting tough/Or making stories up of where I’m actually from.” He also licks a shot at Rolling Stone over the controversy that ensued when his planned cover story was replaced by late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. “Gotta be careful ‘round Rolling Stone or anyone trying to throw stones at me, Mama,” he raps.
68. ‘Fountains,’ feat. Tems | 2021
While it may seem like every major-label rapper is indulging in Afrobeats now, especially if they’re trying to score a late-night hit for baes, Drake’s roots run deeper than most. On “Fountains,” he generates sparks with Nigerian singer Tems, crooning sweet nothings about “how I can’t fathom this life without you.” Meanwhile, Tems responds by admitting “I’ve lost my composure,” and ladles the track with sensual frisson.
67. ‘Say What’s Real’ | 2009
“Why do I feel so alone/Like everybody passing through the studio is in character as if he acting out a movie role,” begins Drake as he raps over an instrumental of Kanye West’s “Say You Will.” What unfolds is a chorus-less, single verse — a familiar technique during the blog-rap era of the late aughts — as Drizzy contends with success. “I’m rolling around the city like your highness,” he boasts. More importantly, it’s an early example of his talent for composing confessional raps that showcase his emotional intensity.
66. ‘Know Yourself’ | 2015
“Know Yourself” demonstrates Drake’s knack for detailed autobiographical memories, from listing the names of old friends to selling Girbaud clothes. “Runnin’ through the 6 with my woes!” he shouts over a track where the beat changes midway through, and calls himself “Top Boy in this shit, I’m so international.” Meanwhile, a monologue from Popcaan near the song’s end represents an increasing interest in Afro-Caribbean culture that would come to the fore with 2016’s Views.
65. ‘Headlines’ | 2011
“Headlines” opens with a waft of keyboard fanfare from producers Boi-1da and 40, a musical proclamation that Drake plans to dominate rap for years to come. “I know I exaggerated things, now I got it like that,” he brags, deftly switching his voice between a melodic croon and a determined, matter-of-fact flow. “She says they miss the old Drake/Girl, don’t tempt me.”
64. ‘Free Smoke’ | 2017
Kicking off with a sample of Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Building a Ladder,” “Free Smoke” finds Drake taunting his opps, with internet commentators speculating he’s taking aim at former rival Meek Mill. He shouts out celebrity friends like Kevin “KD” Durant and Stephen “Chef” Curry, as well as longtime road dogs like Lil Wayne and CJ “Gibbo” Gibson, and remembers a line from Jay-Z’s “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love).” “I didn’t listen to Hov on that old song,” he admits as he seeks out enemies real and perceived.
63. ‘Mr. Right Now,’ 21 Savage feat. Metro Boomin and Drake | 2020
“I’m a savage, but I fuck her to a slow song,” raps 21 Savage in his typical deadpan voice on this breakout hit. The song finds him and Drake referencing the R&B artists they like to play when making love, with Keith Sweat and Beyoncé earning honors. But the lyric that caused the most fuss is Drake’s revelation that “I used to date SZA back in ’08,” which she confirmed was true … while clarifying that their relationship actually occurred in 2009.
62. ‘Jungle’ | 2015
“Jungle” is one of Drake’s more unusual performances. Over a beat that loops a haunting vocal from Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s “6 8,” he asks if someone from “the jungle” — a reference to a neighborhood in Toronto — still cares about him. “Are you still down for the cause?” he asks with clear frustration. For someone known to mention past paramours by name in his songs, his object feels particularly vague here, and it seems as if he could be singing to his audience. “Fuck what they talkin’ about on your timeline,” he sings.
61. ‘Come Closer,’ Wizkid feat. Drake | 2017
Drake may have swung and missed on the online-only remix of Wizkid’s 2014 classic “Ojuelegba.” But give him credit for lending crucial support as well as a feature on “Come Closer,” the Nigerian Afrobeats pioneer’s first U.S. single. Given that Wizkid has become a major global star, thanks to his massive 2021 hit “Essence,” Drake’s early advocacy now seems timely.
60. ‘March 14’ | 2018
“I realize I gotta think for two now,” Drake raps determinedly on “March 14,” a song seemingly addressed to his newborn son. After all the tabloid speculation surrounding the event — as well as a memorable back-and-forth with antagonist Pusha T — this closing track on Scorpion is unexpectedly poignant. He admits, “Single father, I hate when I hear it/I used to challenge my parents on every album/Now I’m embarrassed to tell them I ended up as a co-parent.” Near the song’s end, he harmonizes in a mournful voice about loneliness, suggesting that his bravado masks deep feelings of guilt about the situation.
59. ‘Champagne Poetry’ | 2021
“Champagne poetry/These are the effortless flows supposedly,” raps Drake on the Beatles-sampling opening track from 2021’s Certified Lover Boy. As he takes stock of himself, the beat shifts midway through, turning the first half into familiar braggadocio and the second into a host of insecurities. “I know I tend to talk about how I got a fortune on me/But with that comes the politics the city’s been forcing on me,” he admits, adding that he hides his “pain” at L.A. restaurant Delilah’s “until my niggas carry me out.”
58. ‘I’m on One,’ DJ Khaled feat. Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne | 2011
Co-produced by longtime Drake producers T-Minus and 40 as well as Kromatik, “I’m on One” sounds like a Drake song, the first of many he has made to boost DJ Khaled’s all-star events. It’s his crooned chorus and claims that he’s getting “throwed” and “I don’t really give a fuck and my excuse is that I’m young” that define the proceedings. However, Lil Wayne arguably lands the best bars, rapping at one point, “Yeah, too much money ain’t enough money/You know the feds listening/What money?”
57. ‘Truffle Butter,’ Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne | 2015
“Truffle Butter” may be the best modern hip-house track this side of Azealia Banks, with Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil Wayne riding the beat with aplomb. But the true MVPs are Mary Jane Coles, whose dubby house track “What They Say” girds it, and producer Nineteen85, who slows down Coles’ song until it resembles a hand-clapping bass anthem. As for the three members of Young Money, they know how to flow over a rhythm without overwhelming it. “Talkin’ fillets with the truffle butter,” as Drake puts it.
56. ‘Successful,’ Drake and Trey Songz feat. Lil Wayne | 2009
There are two versions of “Successful”: The one on Trey Songz’ Ready gives him more room for an extra verse, while an alternate take on Drake’s So Far Gone adds a Lil Wayne cameo. Drake, for his part, gets two verses. On the first, he claims that “the game need changin’, I’m the muthafuckin’ cashier.” The second is more revelatory as he describes an incident with his mother that leaves them both in tears.
55. ‘All Me’ feat. 2 Chainz and Big Sean | 2013
Kicking off with a clip of Aziz Ansari in the 2009 movie Funny People, “All Me” presents three experts in rap preposterousness. Drake claims, “I touched down in 86/Knew I was the man by the age of 6,” calls himself the light-skinned Keith Sweat, and adds that he had sex with his babysitter, “but that was much later on some crazy shit.” 2 Chainz, for his part, alleges that he just bought a shirt that costs the same as a Mercedes-Benz car note, while Big Sean big-ups then-girlfriend and late Glee actress Naya Rivera, who’s “probably making more money than me.”
54. ‘Portland,’ feat. Quavo and Travis Scott | 2017
Drake sets the table for this entry in the brief but memorable flute-rap trend. “Don’t come around thinking you gettin’ saved,” he says insouciantly. Then, Quavo sets the whole thing off with a great chorus: “Hell naw! Never let niggas ride your wave! Nope!” Interestingly, it’s another Drake line that would come back to haunt him: “I could never have a kid then be out here still kiddin’ round.”
53. ‘Paris Morton Music’ | 2010
One of a series of loosies Drake released around 2010, “Paris Morton Music” addresses his relationship with the model Paris Morton. With the song’s dreamy synth washes and his insistent plea “Hope you forgive me/Never meant wrong,” it’s one of those impossibly romantic crooner tracks that define his early career. The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League beat and part of Drake’s hook are also used in Rick Ross’s hit single “Aston Martin Music.”
52. ‘Sticky’ | 2022
Produced by Gordo with additional help from Ry X, “Sticky” thumps with a Jersey-club pulse while Drake gives shout-outs to imprisoned rapper Young Thug (“Free Big Slime”) and designer Virgil Abloh. Then, surprisingly, he shifts from his chest pumping to conclude, “When everything is put to rest/And everybody takes a breath/And everything gets addressed/It’s you alone with your regrets.” The number ends with the voice of Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November 2021.
‘51. Churchill Downs,’ Jack Harlow feat. Drake | 2022
“Praying for my downfall don’t make you religious, man,” raps Drake in a thinly veiled shot at mentor turned on-and-off frenemy Kanye West. He assesses the landscape and his competition in general and specific terms, and reserves special venom for Pusha T: “All I hear is plug talk comin’ from middlemen/All I hear is tall tales coming from little men.” Harlow seems content to let Drake dominate with one of his stronger verses, rapping “Before I met Drizzy, I knew he and I would get along/But it’s hard to crack jokes when you really want advice.”
50. ‘6PM in New York’ | 2015
“I want to prove that I’m number one over all these niggas,” raps Drake. He’s strictly in attack mode here, barely adding an “Oh, you gotta love it” aside to break up his flow. He claims “Lil Wayne could have not found him a better successor,” only to dis former Young Money compatriot Tyga: “I heard the little homie talkin’ reckless in Vibe … You need to act your age and not your girl’s age.” He calls his career a “how-to manual,” makes a veiled reference to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s arena-conquering Watch the Throne tour exploits, and demands to be taken as a king of rap. “They scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments,” he notes.
49. ‘Right Above It,’ Lil Wayne feat. Drake | 2010
It makes sense that “Right Above It” was the theme song for Dwayne Johnson’s HBO football series, Ballers. With Kane Beatz’s big trap keyboard sounds, the track bleeds sporting attitude, and Weezy even boasts, “I can hand it to Drake or do a quarterback draw” while referencing 2Pac’s Makaveli line “I’m not a killer but don’t push me.” Meanwhile, Drake pays homage to Outkast (“Who else really trying to fuck with Hollywood Cold?”) and claims he has a “Slumdog Millionaire Bollywood flow.”
48. ‘Worst Behavior’ | 2013
This is Drake in full-on turnup mode, drunk off whatever’s in his red cup and as loud and obnoxious as he wants to be. “Motherfuckers never loved us!” he chants over and over amid DJ Dahi’s glitchy trap masher. “Bitch, you betta have my money when I come for the shit like ODB!” But eventually, he yields to deeper feelings of being underappreciated, a frequent theme of his Nothing Was the Same era. “Who else making rap albums, doing numbers like it’s pop?” he asks while appropriating Mase’s flow from the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
47. ‘Think Good Thoughts,’ Drake feat. Phonte and Elzhi | 2007
Thanks to a 9th Wonder loop of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” as well as verses from Phonte of Little Brother and Elzhi of Slum Village, “Think Good Thoughts” helped a generation of blog-rap fans take notice of Drake for the first time. It finds him dismantling false impressions: “But I hate it when they judge me on how I sound/I spit that influential shit from my town.” LB fans often grouse about how Drake subsequently found bigger fame with the humblebrag style Phonte pioneered. However, he’s acknowledged the Raleigh, North Carolina, rapper’s influence throughout his career.
46. ‘10 Bands’ | 2015
This is one of those tracks that arguably makes 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late his high point as a technically proficient bar-for-bar rapper. He sounds fluid and completely at ease as he rattles off lines about safe houses in Calabasas and getting boxes of free Jordans from Nike. “In the 6 cookin’ with the wrist motion,” he boasts confidently.
45. ‘She Will,’ Lil Wayne feat. Drake | 2011
With producer T-Minus’ slurry, slow-windin’ rhythm, “She Will” approximates the late-night vibe of a strip club, with too many ballers lusting to touch the merchandise. It’s a seamy tone that Drake enhances with his chorus about women tempted to spend the night with a wealthy celebrity like himself. “She bad, so maybe she won’t, uh/But shit, then again, maybe she will/Yeah, do it for the realest fuckin’ niggas in the game right now.”
44. ‘For Free,’ DJ Khaled feat. Drake | 2016
Opening with a reference from Too Short’s “Blow the Whistle,” “For Free” is Drake in funky horndog mode, lusting over women with “stomach on flat-flat/Booty like, “What’s that?” However, he’s careful to add that the sexcapades emerge from mutual consent, as well as a warning that it’s probably just an episode for him. “You knew what it was when you sign up,” he harmonizes. Sound inviting? Near the track’s end, DJ Khaled makes sure to stamp the affair with a signature boast: “We the best/OVO! The summer’s ours! It always has been.”
43. ‘Blessings,’ Big Sean feat. Drake & Kanye West | 2015
On “Blessings,” Big Sean, Drake and Kanye West preach the prosperity gospel, equating their bountiful money and finery as the equivalent of God’s grace. Still, Drake isn’t above a little pettiness. “I could give two fucks where the Grammys go,” he growls, nurturing a longstanding antipathy of the awards ceremony for not properly recognizing his achievements. Then he caps his appearance on this Vinylz and Allen Ritter-produced hit with a memorable chorus: “Waaaay up, I feel blessed!”
42. ‘In My Feelings’ | 2018
On “In My Feelings,” Drake sings and raps about past girlfriends, shouting them out by name over a bounce track made by TrapMoneyBenny and Blaqnmild. But this song really belongs to an uncredited appearance by Miami scam-rap queens City Girls, who show up midway through and dominate with sharp lines like “I need that black card and the code to the safe.”
41. ‘5AM in Toronto’ | 2013
Released in 2013 on the internet with a grungy, home-video-styled clip to boot, “5AM in Toronto” sounds like a synthwave track, thanks to keyboards by Nikhil Seetharam. The Allen Ritter, Seetharam, Vinylz, and Boi-1da-produced song finds Drake in a tempestuous mood, spitting a verse full of bars that have been interpreted as shots at the Weeknd, Chris Brown, and others. “’Cause I show love, never get the same outta niggas/Guess it’s funny how money can make change outta niggas,” he charges. Incidentally, he made up with the Weeknd and Brown, and scored a hit single with the latter, “No Guidance,” in 2019.
40. ‘Wait for U,’ Future feat. Tems and Drake | 2022
“Wait for U” may be a too-easy romantic ode to the ladies from two rap lotharios, but it works. Amid a sample of Tems’ “Higher” and a guitar-flecked beat from FnZ and ATL Jacob, the men unloose their feelings and emotions, albeit under intoxicated circumstances. “Every time I sip on codeine, I get vulnerable,” says Future. “I sit on my balcony and wonder how you’re feeling,” adds Drake. As Morris Day once sang, gigolos get lonely, too.
39. ‘The Calm’ | 2009
“It’s only been three years, look at how I’ve grown,” raps Drake on this deep cut from his third mixtape and commercial breakthrough. It finds him reflecting on growing fame as well as a sense of alienation from his fan base, and you can hear the distinctly Canadian accent in his voice. In 2020, longtime producer 40 told Kevin Durant’s The ETCs podcast that it’s one of his favorite Drake tracks. “Seeing the way people react to that song — how heart-wrenching that was, how much you felt what he was saying, that was so real,” he explained.
38. ‘Look What You’ve Done’ | 2011
Thank Drake and producers Chase N Cashe and 40 for introducing a new generation of fans to Static Major, the R&B singer-songwriter who wrote hits for Aaliyah and others before passing away in 2008. They sampled a YouTube clip of Static Major riffing on the piano into this appealingly autobiographical track where Drake pays tribute to his mother and grandmother. “Just another kid going through life, worrying I won’t be accepted,” he remembers of his years before Lil Wayne discovered and signed him.
37. ‘Money in the Grave,’ feat. Rick Ross | 2019
Released as part of a two-song EP, The Best in the World, celebrating the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship, “Money in the Grave” finds Drake and Rozay at their most boastful, no more, no less. “I was on top when that shit meant a lot/Still on top like I’m scared of the drop,” raps Drake, referring to how he blew up when compact-disc sales were still a thing.
36. ‘Weston Road Flows’ | 2016
Named after the Toronto street on which Drake grew up, the Swto and 40-produced “Weston Road Flows” is one of his densest raps. He begins with memories of youth and a shout-out to childhood friend Renny, then segues to how he took his rivals’ spot on the charts (“You number one and I’m Eddie Murphy, we tradin’ places”), while dropping references to Canadian heroes like former Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter and R&B singer Glenn Lewis — all without a chorus.
35. ‘Take Care’ feat. Rihanna | 2011
Co-produced by Jamie xx and 40, “Take Care” sounds like an uptempo song by the former’s alt-pop group the xx, and Jamie relies heavily on a remix he made for Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’ll Take Care of You.” Meanwhile, Drake sings in a voice that sounds more strident and emphatic than his usual crooner delivery, while Rihanna sings the chorus in a low whisper, allowing herself to memorably crack off-rhythm at one point. The net effect is of tempering expectations and dealing with love realistically — a sleight of hand that fueled the song’s nightclub dominance through much of 2012.
34. ‘Jimmy Cooks,’ feat. 21 Savage | 2022
“Rest in peace to Lil Keed,” says Drake on “Jimmy Cooks.” His pairing with 21 Savage hearkens back to their successful “Knife Talk” collaboration, thanks to a Playa Fly sample that transitions into a soulful, melodic beat centered on Brooke Benton’s “You Were Gone.” Each sound is animated by the other’s presence, with Drake boasting about how he’s “Cooking up ambition on the kitchen stove/Pot’s start to bubble, see the suds, that shit’s good to go.”
33. ‘Who Do You Love?’ YG feat. Drake | 2014
“We turned up in the studio, late night/That’s why the songs that you hear coming real tight,” raps Drake on “Who Do You Love?”; his unlicensed use of a line from Rappin’ 4-Tay’s Bay Area classic “Playaz Club” nearly led to a lawsuit. Nevertheless, it’s a sign that Drake’s a student of the genre, and he fits comfortably into the hard bass wallops of this Mustard-produced banger. “I’m big on the West, like I’m big in the South/So we gon’ pay some people off, we gon’ figure it out,” he raps.
32. ‘Find Your Love’ | 2010
“Find Your Love” finds Drake in full-on R&B mode, singing over a track produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, and No I.D. that replicates the sun-dappled island rhythms of Jamaican lover men like Gyptian and Jah Cure. He adds patois inflections to his delivery, and croons with sincerity, a marked shift in a genre more associated with hardcore sex come-ons than adult contemporary romance. “Find Your Love” underlines how Drake isn’t afraid to be viewed as soft, even as he shores up his rap bona fides elsewhere.
31. ‘Sicko Mode,’ Travis Scott | 2018
“Sicko Mode” is a citadel to Scott’s maximalist creativity. It includes over two dozen songwriters, six producers, three beat changes, and an uncredited vocal from Swae Lee, as well the sampled voices of the Notorious B.I.G., Big Hawk, and Luke Campbell. Still, Drake stands out amid the sensory overload. He gets two verses, and the opportunity to brag about taking half of a Xanax that leaves him “out like a light” on a private jet. “When I shoot my shot, that shit wetty like I’m Sheck,” he adds, shouting out Scott affiliate Sheck Wes in the process.
30. ‘Poetic Justice,’ Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake | 2012
Built around a sample of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place” and named after her 1994 movie, “Poetic Justice” takes the form of open letters to the opposite sex. Drake raps about how “sometimes I wish we would fight less and talk more,” while Lamar raps, “If you’re in the mood for empathy, there’s blood in my pen.” Both are in a contemplative mood and embrace romantic introspection, but Drake can’t help but get turned on when he imagines his girl in a sundress: “Wooh! Good god! What you doin’ that walk for?”
29. ‘Knife Talk,’ feat. Project Pat and 21 Savage | 2021
This Three 6 Mafia-styled hit piece features an ominous, DJ Paul-like piano melody and plenty of grizzled threats from Project Pat and 21 Savage. “To stay ahead in this bitch-ah/I drank syrup like it’s liq-ah,” raps Pat in his immediately recognizable extra-syllable cadence. Wisely, Drake doesn’t try to keep up with the hardcore knife talk, though he can’t resist but issue a few threats. “Type of nigga that can’t look me in the eyes/I despise,” he raps.
28. ‘Nonstop’ | 2018
“Nonstop” finds Drake appropriating the ski-mask menace of classic Memphis rap with surprising success. The track’s elements work better in practice than on paper, from a grimy loop of Mack Daddy Ju’s “My Head Is Spinnin’” to fanciful claims that he’s a “wig splitter,” as well as the notorious and somewhat colorist line “Yeah, I’m light-skinned, but I’m still a dark nigga.” The tone is of a rap monarch with a “palace look like Buckingham” who’s willing to do anything to maintain his perch, and has unlimited amounts of money to do it.
27. ‘Jumpman,’ Drake and Future | 2015
Inspired by Michael Jordan’s famed Nike logo, “Jumpman” finds Drake and Future all the way turned up and flexing in the studio. Metro Boomin’s beat is bouncy enough, but it’s the energy the two bring that drives this hallmark to the sporting life forward. “Trapping is the life that’s the way for me-e!” raps Future, emphasis on the “me” as if he were whistling. Then he simply chants, “Nobu, Nobu, Nobu, Nobu, Nobu, Nobu.” Meanwhile, Drakes brags, “They just smell like two or three weeks out the country,” and gives shout outs to Manu Ginóbili and Dikembe Mutombo.
26. ‘Come and See Me,’ PartyNextDoor feat. Drake | 2016
It’s unclear why Drake hasn’t had more success with his OVO imprint. He’s one of the biggest rap stars of the past decade-plus, but unlike J Cole’s Dreamville, he has yet to introduce an artist that has achieved significant success. The closest may be PartyNextDoor, a Canadian songwriter who scored a Grammy-nominated hit with “Come and See Me.” The track is redolent of the mid-2010s “trap-soul” era, with 40’s blurry production matching his deep, sonorous voice. Drake assists with a melodic verse, casting shade at another guy dating his woman: “Just ’cause he got a heart don’t mean he got heart.”
25. ‘Laugh Now Cry Later,’ feat. Lil Durk | 2020
“Laugh Now Cry Later” exemplifies Drake’s songwriting talent and knack for melodic choruses. “Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry, I guess you know now,” he sings, before taking a subliminal shot at Kanye West with a reference to the latter’s track “Ghost Town.” There are other impressive effects, including his repeat of the chorus several times as if it’s a mantra; and the way he concludes the Lil Durk line “Even though I got a case, I’ma do what it takes” by adding, “And I’ve never been embraced,” creating a sense of continuity between the two voices.
24. ‘Work,’ Rihanna feat. Drake | 2016
As the musical personification of Rihanna and Drake’s star-crossed romance, “Work” frames the latter as an object of desire, with Rihanna eager to give him more “work.” The https://youtu.be/lw3Or6eqIpIBoi-1da production is a light and blissful reggae-pop affair, with Rihanna’s exuberant, patois-tinged vocal driving the sound forward. With all this love coming from the Barbadian star, Drake doesn’t have to do much else but sit there and be appreciated. “If you had a twin, I would still choose you,” he harmonizes. “We just need a face-to-face/You can pick the time and the place.”
23. ‘Where Ya At,’ Future feat. Drake | 2015
Produced by Metro Boomin, “Where Ya At” is a marvel of trap drums, piano keyboards, and Future and Drake’s uncanny vocal chemistry. Future snaps with impressive rhythm, and Drake adds on with the verse “Where were you, when all the dogs needed help?/Lawyers and commissary ain’t gon’ pay itself.” The latter’s golden touch ensured it became Future’s first Billboard top 30 hit.
22. ‘Walk It Talk It,’ Migos feat. Drake | 2018
“Walk It Talk It” is a loving homage to Atlanta’s mid-aughts snap music era and groups like D4L and Dem Franchize Boyz. As with most things Migos, the play’s the thing, and the lyrics are less important than the cadence and hilarious ad-libs they adorn them with. Drake, who helped boost their breakout hit “Versace” in 2013, fits in well among the antics. “First night, she gon’ let me fuck ’cause we grown/I hit her, gave her back to the city, she home,” he raps, while Takeoff punctuates the stanza by ad-libbing “She at home now!”
21. ‘Best I Ever Had’ | 2009
With all that has happened to Drake, it’s easy to overlook the hit single that made him a star. Nestled amid So Far Gone, his 2009 mixtape that marked a peak in so-called “blog rap,” “Best I Ever Had” finds Drake perfecting the art of the humblebrag over a sprightly Boi-1da beat. “Sex, love, pain, baby I be on that Tank shit,” he raps in reference to the R&B singer’s album Sex, Love & Pain. It was difficult for rap heads to take him seriously at first — some refuseniks still don’t — and he’s only matured as an artist in the years since. But “Best I Ever Had” still resonates as a portrait of how far he’s come.
20. ‘Lemon Pepper Freestyle’ feat. Rick Ross | 2021
The six-minute “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” is built on a distorted sample of Quadron’s “Pressure,” and finds Drake full of conflicting thoughts. After dropping the usual humblebrag lines, he pays homage to mentor Lil Wayne, and foretells his future as a single-dad. “And I sent her the child support, she sent the heart emoji/They all say they love me, but they hardly know me,” he raps before imagining dropping off his “little man” at school and how mothers will “get googly-eyed” during future parent-teacher meetings. Then he dismisses the whole idea of bragging anyway: “And being honest, I don’t even want to talk about it.”
19. ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ feat. Majid Jordan | 2013
Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” finds him collaborating with synth-pop duo Majid Jordan to dazzling results. It evokes the late Eighties, when bands inspired by Depeche Mode and New Order roamed the airwaves, and he adopts a pop-crooner mode he’s deployed many times before, but with more confidence and effectiveness than in the past. Drake has said that it’s his attempt at a making a timeless wedding song, with Majid Al Maskati singing on the chorus “You’re the girl, you’re the one.” To be sure, it’s a sentiment that won’t be found in much of Drake’s catalog, but it feels real here.
18. ‘Crew Love’ feat. the Weeknd | 2011
“Crew Love” mostly belongs to the Weeknd. He sings on more than half of the track, and he unfurls a glorious display of alternative-R&B angst over an airy, plush track from Illangelo and 40, making for one of his best early performances. “There’s a room full of niggas/What you followin’ me for?” he sings. The Weeknd’s vocals set the scene for Drake’s vision of a newly ascendant pop star enjoying the fruits of his labor. “Really, I like who I’m becoming,” brags Drake. “I told my story/And made history.”
17. ‘Stay Schemin’,’ Rick Ross feat. Drake and French Montana | 2012
“It bothers me when the gods get to actin’ like the broads,” raps Drake, taking aim at Common for dissing him in interviews (and being a little sexist in the process). He spits some of his most pointed lyrics on this track from Rick Ross’ Rich Forever mixtape as he reminisces about a time when rap music was “rugged” and claims that he rolls “heavy” with his friends. Drake’s verse also got him in real-life trouble. When he rapped, “Kobe ‘bout to lose 150Ms/Kobe my nigga, I hate it had to be him/Bitch, you wasn’t with me shootin’ in the gym,” Bryant’s wife Vanessa forced him to apologize.
16. ‘One Dance’ feat. Wizkid and Kyla | 2016
Drake’s “One Dance” is arguably the song that introduced Afrobeats to the American pop mainstream — before then, pioneers like Wizkid had become a favorite of internet diggers but had yet to break through to a wider audience. However, the track also incorporates U.K. funky, courtesy of a pivotal sample of Kyla’s “Do You Mind,” as well as Jamaican dancehall flavors. It all makes for a defining moment in pop’s problematically titled “tropical” era, with Drake gamely abandoning his rap pose for a smooth, rhythmic croon that resonated worldwide.
15. ‘0 to 100/The Catch Up’ | 2014
Most radio stations that played this Drake loosie throughout the second half of 2014 focused on the “0 to 100” half. It’s a fusillade of memorable punchlines — “Chef Curry with the shot, boy,” “I be on my Lil Mouse drill shit,” “Run Forrest, run Forrest, go Forrest” — and memories about his days as a member of the Degrassi: The Next Generation ensemble. Meanwhile, “The Catch Up” is a much quieter conversation with a friend that finds him mulling, “Maybe I didn’t lose them at all/Maybe I keep moving forward and they’re stagnant/They ain’t moving at all.”
14. ‘God’s Plan’ | 2018
On “God’s Plan,” Drake struggles with feelings of alienation. “Trying to keep it peaceful is a struggle for me,” he admits. Memorably, he harmonizes at one point, “She said, ‘Do you love me,’ I tell her, ‘Only partly/I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry.’” Yet he eventually dispenses of his self-centeredness and says, “I can’t do this on my own,” all while toying with a newfangled Playboi Carti-inspired flow. The popular, award-winning video for “God’s Plan” found him doing charitable giving around the city of Miami, underlining the song’s theme of learning to embrace community.
13. ‘Passionfruit’ | 2017
“Passionfruit” displays Drake’s musical inspirations with aplomb. It’s a blurry mélange of alternative R&B, synth-pop, and deep house: early in the track, there’s a sampled snippet of house icon Moodymann exhorting his audience to get more drinks. At the center is Drake in crooner mode, but his romantic yearnings are less important than the sound he creates with British producer Nana Rogues. Amid it all, there’s the voice of Zoë Kravitz, who seems as bedazzled as the rest of us: “Trying to think of the right thing to say.”
12. ‘30 for 30 Freestyle’ | 2015
While Drake’s album with Future, What a Time to Believe, is a largely drama-less celebration of the self, he set aside its closing track to ruminate on his life. Despite its ESPN-inspired title, “30 for 30 Freestyle” is a vintage single-verse, confessional-style rap that balances braggadocio with doubts and reflections. A key moment arrives when he comments on how pundits wondered why he didn’t seem more engaged in the Black Lives Matter movement and the Ferguson, Missouri, protests over the death of Michael Brown. “Kids are losing lives, got me scared of losing mine/And if I hold my tongue about it, I get crucified,” he raps.
11. ‘Back to Back’ | 2015
When onetime friend Meek Mill challenged Drake in 2015 with a diss track, the 6 God responded in days with a pair of singles, “Charged Up” and “Back to Back.” But his line on the latter — “I waited for four days, nigga, where y’all out?” — may be the biggest punch he landed, and it turned into a meme that haunted Meek for months. (Of course, this being Drake, it also landed on the Billboard Hot 100 as well.) The two eventually hashed out their differences and teamed up for “Going Bad” in 2018.
10. ‘Hotline Bling’ | 2015
It’s difficult to separate “Hotline Bling” from the noise its success generated. There’s the music video and his dance moves, which generated memes that bounce around the internet to this day. And there’s the Grammy it received for Best Rap Song, prompting Drake to criticize the organization for citing a song on which he doesn’t even rap. All the controversy seems like a bit much for a heartbreak bop that finds him crooning over a loop of Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together?” “You used to call me on my cellphone late night when you need my love,” he sings. “Ever since I left the city, you and I just don’t get along.”
9. ‘Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2’ feat. Jay-Z | 2013
The intro to “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2” is one of Drake’s best, thanks to a beat that sounds like cloud skating, a blend of a high-pitched Ellie Goulding sample and Timbaland’s recital of Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” chorus. “Overly focused, it’s far from the time to rest now/Debates growin’ ‘bout who they think is the best now,” raps Drake before ceding the spotlight to Jay-Z. (“Pound Cake” originated as an outtake from Jay’s Magna Carta, Holy Grail.) The “Paris Morton Music 2” half belongs to Drake alone, as he says his time is now: “Fuck all that happy-to-be-here shit that you want me on/I’m the big homie, they still try to little-bro me, dog.”
8. ‘Fuckin’ Problems,’ A$AP Rocky feat. 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar | 2012
A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems” captures a brief, heady moment between a new generation of rap superstars before ego and competitiveness drove them apart. Amid 2 Chainz’ chorus and a beat from producer 40 stuffed with bass and booty handclaps, each rapper delivers a dirty rap burner. “Drop down and get your eagle on/Or we can stare up at the stars and put the Beatles on,” raps Drake, who calls himself a “long dick nigga” that “ain’t for talkin’.” It’s the equivalent of Jay-Z, DMX, and Ja Rule’s Murder Inc., a star-crossed moment that couldn’t last.
7. ‘Energy’ | 2015
“I’ve got enemies, got a lot of enemies/Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy,” begins Drake on this memorable three-minute rant. “Trying to take a-way from a nigga!” The objects of his frustration are everyone around him: current girlfriends and exes, family members, real and fake friends, and his peers in the world of rap. It’s both paranoid and humorous, and you can occasionally hear him crack a smile in his voice. Drake may have problems, but he never lacks for confidence. “I hear fairy tales ‘bout how they gon’ run up on me,” he ends. “Well, run up when you see me and we gonna see.”
6. ‘From Time’ feat. Jhené Aiko | 2013
“From Time” finds Drake in communion with Aiko, and she serves as his conscience. “I know you’ve been through more than most of us,” she sings, sympathetically. In turn, the rapper offers a brutally honest assessment of his masculine flaws, even as he controversially cites by name a few women he’s been involved with. (His tendency for name-dropping past dalliances without their consent has drawn criticism.) Importantly, he discusses resolving his differences with his father, whom he has described in past songs as exhibiting similar traits as him. It feels as if he’s searching for redemption, even if he’s not quite sure how to get there yet. “Landmark to the muses that inspired the music,” he raps. “Guess I fucked up the vision.”
5. ‘The Motto,’ feat. Lil Wayne | 2011
Produced by T-Minus and famed for popularizing the phrase “YOLO,” “The Motto” is Drake’s homage to Bay Area hyphy. He shouts out Mac Dre’s “I’m Feeling Myself,” and hangs with local legends like E-40 in the music video. (The video version also includes a verse from then-Young Money artist Tyga.) Meanwhile, Lil Wayne uses the occasion to unfurl a few of his patented puns. “Wish a nigga would, like a tree in this bitch/And if a leaf falls, put some weed in that bitch/That’s my M.O., put a B in that bitch,” he raps.
4. ‘Controlla’ | 2016
This is Drake at his most sensuous. He works a slow-wind rhythm over Boi-1da’s keyboard-laden groove, cooing sweet nothings and referencing Nineties R&B titans Jodeci’s “Cry for You.” “Thank God you came, how many more days could I wait?” he sings in his now-familiar melodic croon. At the center of this appealing baby-maker track is a sample of Beenie Man’s digital dancehall cut “Tear Off Mi Garment”; an early prerelease version includes a cameo from onetime OVO artist Popcaan.
3. ‘Marvins Room’ | 2011
Upon its release in 2011, “Marvins Room” felt like a real creative breakthrough. Drake’s past excursions into R&B carried a precocious, hesitant tone to them, but here he sounds fully engaged to his performance, the result of adopting a slightly deeper voice than on earlier hits like “Find Your Love.” The track takes the form of a drunken late-night booty call to a past girlfriend, and as with many of Drake’s songs about women, there’s the issue of whether he’s a sensitive soul or a horny creep. It’s an ambiguity he embraces. “I’ve had sex four times this week, I’ll explain/Having a hard time adjusting to fame,” he harmonizes.
2. ‘Nice For What’ | 2018
“Louisiana shit,” announces Drake on “Nice for What.” The track pays homage to Nineties bass anthems with plenty of keyboard stabs, a snippet of Big Freedia exhorting a crowd, and a sped-up loop of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.” It’s a loud, rollicking, and gleefully fun party song produced by Murda Beatz, meant for cutting up. “I know shorty and she doesn’t want no slow song,” he harmonizes while dropping a reference to Big Tymers’ “Get Your Roll On” and Fabo from D4L. And unlike other songs where he seemingly praises women in order to sleep with them, he simply honors female persistence here, resulting in one of his most uncomplicated and celebratory jams.
1. ‘Started From the Bottom’ | 2013
If Drake is at heart a boaster, a rapper who both predicts and actualizes his wealth in life, then “Started From the Bottom” is one of his finest moments. It’s where he crystallizes his ever-present shopping lists and memories of striving in his hometown Toronto into a handful of unforgettable hooks. “Started from the bottom, now my whole team fuckin’ here!” he chants. “No new niggas, we don’t feel that/Fuck a fake friend, where your real friends at?” A Mike Zombie trap beat shuffles underneath him, pushing his voice forward. In a memorable music video, he earns a spot as a night manager at a department store — just a hip-hop shitworker on the come-up.
From Rolling Stone US.