So, last night I stumbled across a tweet challenging any “Drake Stan” (which I can and can’t be at times) to narrow down his extensive list of songs and features to create a fluid 15 track playlist. Although difficult to do, I’ve accepted the challenge willfully and am excited to share the 15 records that I believe embodies Drake the artist, perennial superstar, and relatable guy next door that seems to always know just what to say in the face of adversity. With each track, I’ll take a few minutes to explain their respective relevance to me and how the it flows with the preceding and following songs. Here goes.
The So Far Gone Era
1. “Say What’s Real” – A timid yet meticulous young man pointing out the journeys that success can and will inevitably take you on whilst understanding the importance of humility. (“And my momma’s embarrassed to pull my phantom out, so I park about 5 houses down. She says I shouldn’t have it until I wear the crown, But I don’t want to feel the need to wear disguises around”).
2. “Houstatlantavegas” – An ode to almost every rapper’s favorite past time, strippers. Although in this sense Drake opens us up to acknowledge the precedent he’s setting for his affinity for all things stripper. Yet another stepping stone in his mounting of superstardom.
The Thank Me Later Era
4. “Unforgettable” feat. Jeezy – Although I’m not the biggest Jeezy fan, here we got to hear a more confident Drake shedding a union and speaking about the emotions tied to such decision but with the types of bars that masked his feelings and made us accept that this dude could flat out rap. Hence, “This is really one of my dumbest flows ever, I haven’t slept in days.”
The Take Care Era
6. “Under Ground Kings” – Kinda hard finding a grittier version of Drake on his more emotional 2nd album but once you hear this song and the way he brags about getting rich off a mixtape while a host of other artists were barely selling records, we knew that Drake knew he couldn’t be stopped. “People always ask how I got my nice things, take my crown to my grave I’m an Underground King.”
7. “Lord Knows” feat. Rick Ross – Just when we thought that things were getting too emotional, here Drake reminds us who he makes music for and who he expects to diss him as 2 separate entities because of the growing feeling he laced almost every track with on “Take Care”. and it damn sure didn’t hurt getting one of the “Red Bottom Boss’s” greatest verses either.
The NWTS Era
9. “Wu-Tang Forever” – This song is 2nd to the aforementioned favorite of mine as the feeling you get when you hear those piano keys before the bass drops and the tempo slows can only be described as intoxicating. Mixing a mild and slowing tempo with a blend of hard hitting jabs at Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko serenading us with her background vocals, we’re beginning to feel that Drake has mastered instrumentation along with subtle Jay Z-like subliminal shots.
The Views Era
11. “U with Me” – If by some off chance, you were living under a rock when DMX expressed his disdain for Drake, the manifestation of this DMX sampled track should show you the power of superstardom or just how far a bag of dollars can get you. Never mind the fact that Drake used the sample to sing to Rihanna for the umpteenth time, the best revenge is indeed your paper. Kudos Beyoncé.
12. “Child’s Play” – Here we arrive in 2016, where every song is catchy with no substance and Drake provides us with not only perspective on how to court a woman but opens up even more than we thought he could to deliver one of the best and most harshly honest verses of the year. "You don't wanna fall in love, I know…"
The More Life Era (Thus Far)
13. “2 Birds 1 Stone” – Fast forward to 4th quarter 2016, Drake comes out swinging yet again to deliver a sentiment in very few words, “More Life”. Meanwhile utilizing his platform to respond to a few critics in the form of subtler yet impactful jabs at former foes. (Pusha T, Kid Cudi) Who doesn’t like a little verbal sparring, especially when its aimed at 2 other lyrically inclined artists. This is the level of fame that very few reach in the way of an audience completely ignoring whatever rebuttal an artist can pen and immediately crowning Drake nonetheless.
14. “Back 2 Back” – This record made the list in the spot that it did looking at Drake in hindsight. From “Diss me and you’ll never hear a reply for it” off his single “Successful” to charting a response to Meek Mill’s claims of him using a ghostwriter higher than any record or album he’s ever put out. This Drake, at that moment in time proved that we care more about him the artist then Meek’s attempt to throw rocks at the sun. If this isn’t the top then I’m not sure what else is.
15. “Dreams Money Can Buy” – And finally, the ultimate retrospective song to cap off this list. In 2011, we listened to Drake rap about many things he planned to obtain in time as he climbed the proverbial ladder of success and here, 5 years later he’s done it all minus the "Saudi Money."
From start to finish I believe this playlist covers Drake’s ascension from a shy kid knowing what he's wanted all along to the confident man that tackled insurmountable odds to attain the things he knew he was worth. The first line in “Say What’s Real” should give you a sense of what a Canadian born, Jewish, black kid at that time had to deal with (“Why do I feel so alone?”). Although this list is in chronological order up until tracks 14 and 15 to create a bit of retrospect, I believe that these songs in any order would still provide a clear sense of progression from an artist transitioning from fitting in to standing out. I hope you all enjoyed, shoot me your playlist and let's compare.