Discography Check: Drake

By @TrueGodImmortal

He is one of the biggest rappers in the game today, if not the biggest. Every song he releases becomes a hit, and he's even survived a beef that compromised how his art is delivered. In many ways, in this era, Drake is teflon. Not too many people can do what he does with little scrutiny, and that is the true benefit that success can provide. I say this not to discredit Drake, but just speak to how his success has transcended so much in music. As a rapper, when Drake is on, he is one of the best. As a singer, despite not being the best vocalist, Drake can create rhythms and catchy tunes that easily climb up the charts. Over his 12 year career so far, Drake has rarely missed or experienced a fall, and that's an impressive feat to pull off. Today, I wanted to look at via discography and see how his albums and mixtapes all hold up. Does Drake have a classic? Multiple classics? Let's take a look.

*Room For Improvement (2006)

-His debut mixtape was almost telling in how it was titled. It's as if Drake knew he was nowhere near what he needed to be in order to succeed and be great, despite releasing this project. While this era of Drake sounds like an artist just trying to find his footing in the game, he does have moments where he seems to gain his momentum. With tracks like "City Is Mine", "AM 2 PM", "Do What You Do", and "Make Things Right", Drake shines, but overall, this mixtape is mostly middle of the road honestly. It isn't bad nor great, it resides in the category between decent and good, but luckily the title itself alerts you to this, probably unknowingly.

*Comeback Season (2007)

-When Drake said he had room for improvement, perhaps this is what he was referring to. In his early days, Drake was at his lyrical best honestly, resembling the underground rappers that were at their peak in a way. I think this mixtape was a definite step up from his first release, and some of the tracks here are classics. Sure, Comeback Season isn't a flawless release, and there are some songs that just miss the mark, but the highlights here are plentiful and frequent. His first official single from the tape was the solid Trey Songz featured "Replacement Girl", which was actually a good song and catchy one at that. Trey Songz is featured a few times on this project, and the chemistry between those two artists would be birthed on this tape. Other highlights include "Think Good Thoughts" with Phonte and Elzhi, as well as "Don't U Have A Man" featuring Little Brother and Dwele. For a mixtape that is 11 years old, this project still sounds pretty good now, and is a reflection of the beginning of the change in style that fueled Drake's rise.

*So Far Gone (2009)

-Now, for most, this is a pivotal release in his catalog, if not the most important in his discography. Every artist has their breakthrough release, and So Far Gone is where Drake officially tipped the scale in his favor. While some are of the belief that Drake has no classics (personally, in my own musical collection, I agree to an extent), there is no denying how vital this mixtape was to his career. In many ways, So Far Gone is a classic that you have to give credit to for various reasons. For one, it showcased the ability of Drake to be versatile in a way, while also introducing his new era as a Young Money artist. The tape kicked off with an amazing opener in "Lust For Life", then continues with the major singles "Best I Ever Had" and "Successful", while also bringing some of his most influential songs with "November 18th", "Ignant Shit", "Houstaltantavegas", "Say What's Real", and more. Drake was in rare form on So Far Gone, and the results would bring him big success. Young Money would release an EP of the same name with some of the same songs to capitalize on his success, but the only new songs there are the excellent "Fear" and the hit "I'm Goin' In" with Wayne and Jeezy.

*Thank Me Later (2010)

-This is by far the worst Drake album and I really don't understand how one could say otherwise. I'll explain. Sure, there are other projects that didn't connect on the level of the other albums, at least in terms of quality, but you only get one shot to make your debut album. You only get one shot to make your arrival. Perhaps So Far Gone is the real debut album and Thank Me Later is Drake fighting a sophomore slump mentally. Whatever the case, Thank Me Later was always forgettable as an album to me, even though it does have a fair share of highlights. Thematically, this album sounds like Drake at his most commercial, coping with newfound fame and the results of it. While he does have solid tracks like "Fireworks", "Miss Me", "Unforgettable", and the unintentionally hilarious Jay-Z featured "Light Up", for the most part, this album is missing something. Sure, fans love tracks like "Karaoke", "Over", "Up All Night", and "Shut It Down", but honestly all of those tracks feel slightly lifeless. Perhaps Drake was still finding his footing as an artist, but regardless, this double platinum debut album was disappointing if we are honest.

*Take Care (2011)

-The magnum opus according to public opinion. I won't say whether or not I agree with that sentiment, but I will say that Take Care is a classic album in terms of impact and importance. It was the most successful album in Drake's career at that time, and it does carry a legacy of its own that is hard to deny. An album that is equal parts R&B and hip hop, as well as an album that showcases a conflicted Drake, which helps the theme and feel. Perhaps that was premeditated, as the wide eyed Drake that premiered on Thank Me Later gives way to a slightly melancholy and lost Drake, and the result spawns some of the best music of his career. A lot of production here is influential to the sound of today, and the expansive sounds through the album help it to maintain a form of creative cohesion. The opening track is a classic, with "Over My Dead Body" being one of the best openers, and then the album goes through a few peaks and valleys. With Drake alternating between R&B centered songs and a few true to form hip hop tracks, we get gems like "Marvin's Room", "The Real Her" with Wayne and Andre 3000, the emotional "Look What You've Done", as well as "HYFR" and my personal favorite "Lord Knows" with Rick Ross. All in all, while I do not believe that Take Care is a perfect album, I do believe it is the most important Drake album, an influential album, and a moment in time for music. So, by that definition, Take Care is a classic.

*Nothing Was The Same (2013)

-If you asked me, I think this is the best Drake album by far. To me, it has the best of both worlds for Drake, as he balances the R&B meets hip hop act well here without getting too melancholy. I've always likened NWTS to being the most honest album in his arsenal, as well as his best executed project, but it isn't a flawless album. I'm of the belief that Drake doesn't have a flawless album, but this is the closest thing he has to it. Kicking off the album with the excellent "Tuscan Leather", Drake sets a tone early that he manages to stick with the entire way, with tracks like the two part "Furthest Thing", "Worst Behavior", "From Time", and "Too Much" being standouts from the album. The songs that don't hit the mark perfectly are still mostly solid here, and I only skip about two or three tracks. While Nothing Was The Same doesn't have the same legacy that Take Care has, I still prefer NWTS over it personally. For me, the two most important albums in his catalog are those two, but NWTS as a standalone project is elite Drake material IMO.

*If You're Reading This It's Too Late (2015)

-I always feel indifferent on this project. Knowing what I know now about some of the songs, it is a little tougher to appreciate some of the songs, but this is still a solid body of work. Calling the project a mixtape, Drake would surprise everyone and drop this almost out of nowhere and the response was instant from fans. Controversy on this project aside, Drake kicks it off with one of the better songs in his catalog on "Legend", which is a classic and a true gem. He keeps his momentum up on this project throughout with tracks like "Energy", "Know Yourself", the Travis Scott featured "Company", and my personal favorite "Jungle" being the highlights here. This "mixtape" is solid and solidified the fact that Drake still ran the game especially with the commercial response. Another successful release by Drake, but compared to his last two releases, this one is just a notch below.

*What A Time To Be Alive w/ Future (2015)

-I really don't like the idea of collab albums. At least not with artists with differing styles. I could see Nas and AZ making one, Jada and Styles, and hell, I even thought Future and Young Thug making one together would work (to an extent, it did), but I was on the fence about this Future and Drake release initially. While many people have categorized this album as mediocre or just decent, I actually thought this was a solid project. Sure, no one expected a classic (I hope), but we still got some good music from two of the most popular rappers at that moment. Tracks like the opener "Digital Dash", the anthem "Big Rings", "Diamonds Dancing", and the popular single "Jumpman" definitely gave the album a boost, and both MCs did what they do best, with Drake adapting more to Future's style than vice versa. I wouldn't mind a sequel of this project, and I actually enjoyed this one a lot more than I expected.

*Views (2016)

-I don't consider myself to be an actual Drake fan by the traditional definition. I enjoy a good amount of his music, but it's not something I listen to very frequently. Honestly, I think he's one of the most talented artists today, and he has a solid string of hits and is on a run that is higher than most we've ever seen. His consistency commercially is almost unmatched and perhaps that's why Views is such an important album in his catalog. It is the peak of his popularity as an artist and commercially in a major way, but a middle of the road moment in terms of music quality. There are two glowing things about Views that bother me just a bit, and the biggest one stems from the extensive tracklist. At 20 songs, perhaps Drake was a little too ambitious, but the album drags on. I've heard albums with 20 tracks that didn't drag on, but Views doesn't escape that fate. The other issue I had with the album was the blending of too many styles. Drake is ambitious for sure, and tracks like "Controlla" and "One Dance" were huge hits, but they were just average songs when you take away the success. Still, Views does have a few highlights, and songs like "9", "Keep The Family Close", "Hype", "Redemption", and my favorite "Weston Road Flows" do help the album maintain a level of consistency. Overall, Views was a huge success, the biggest album of Drake's career, but it still somehow missed the mark set by the previous projects. As a standalone release, it is good, but feels lifeless at times, a rarity for a Drake album.

*More Life (2017)

-This release was considered as a collection or a playlist, but we all know in reality that this was an album/mixtape. It was more of an album that had no true cohesion to it, and that's okay. Everything doesn't need a theme or a cohesive vision, but maybe More Life would have benefited a bit from a more focused direction. That's not to say that the project doesn't have some solid tracks, but the vibe of this release is just all over the place. While that was the intended point I'm sure, some songs falter as a result. I can appreciate tracks like "Free Smoke", "Passionfruit", "Portland", "Sacrifices", and of course, "Do Not Disturb", but a lot of the other tracks just feel lost in the shuffle. More Life is solid, but just has a lot of filler on this "playlist" that probably could have been cut down or removed (mostly the songs that just don't work). Still, despite the small decline in project quality in the last two releases, Drake is back with a new album dropping soon titled Scorpion and the buzz is still high. Can Drake deliver a classic? We shall see.



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