Last week’s Billboard awards were memorable for a number of reasons, with both fans and artists left reeling during the incredible evening thanks to the exciting performances, awards and other highlights taking place.
One such highlight was the moment that the award for Artist Of The Decade was given to Drake, who accepted with his adorable son Adonis in tow. Given that Drake only began to gain traction back in 2010 after a series of well-received mixtapes, it’s clear to see just how far he has come in the years since.
Given that Drake is now such a kingpin of the rap game, it can be hard to remember a day before Drake was so well known – before he developed his signature sound and before he became one of the 2010s most prolific and most successful collaborators. As we look back on Drake’s career and await the release of his next album, Certified Lover Boy, later this year, DDW ranks the best of Drake’s albums.
This list doesn’t include Drake’s mixtapes – though we’d still entirely recommend listening to these too.
5. Scorpion (2018)
With its 90-minute run-time made up of 25 tracks, double album Scorpion was perhaps Drake’s most ambitious project to date when it was released in 2018 – and yet, it falls a little flat.
Whilst Scorpion is by no means a bad album, it doesn’t quite hold up to the rest of Drake’s work. Of course, there are glimpses of Drake’s signature sound and lyrical trademarks throughout, but these appear a little more sporadically than you’d expect – a point that several reviewers have previously picked up on when giving their own opinions on Scorpion. The general consensus here is that there’s a little too much going on and we would be inclined to agree.
That said, Scorpion’s highlights really are highlights. Love it or hate it, In My Feelings was one of the biggest tracks of 2018 – to many, it was pretty undeniably the song of the summer. As for God’s Plan, the line ‘I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry’ is perhaps one of Tinder’s most notorious low-effort bios – it may not be lyrical genius, but it certainly captured attention.
All in all, Scorpion certainly wasn’t bad – if anything, it was just a little much.
4. Thank Me Later (2010)
Following a series of successful mixtapes, Drake had gained enough traction that fans were flat-out demanding an album. Anticipation was certainly high – but did Thank Me Later hold up?
We’d definitely say so. Over a decade on, a return to Thank Me Later makes it clear just how far Drake has come since he first hit the scene in the mid-00s, whilst simultaneously marking the beginning of the Drake trademarks that we have all come to recognise, such as his repeated use of themes such as lost love and growing fame.
Thank Me Later set the precedent for Drake’s many promising collaborations, too, with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj all featuring on tracks. Looking back now, the album may not feature any of Drake’s huge, longest-lasting hits, but it certainly introduced Drake to audiences everywhere in a way that set the bar for the rest of stratospheric rise to global fame.
3. Views (2016)
Those who pay a certain amount of attention to Drake’s evolution will more than likely remember that Views certainly wasn’t appreciated by everyone upon its release – but, like a fine wine, the album seems to have improved with age.
Perhaps it was that this more pop-focused turn was a little jarring when compared to earlier albums and mixtapes, especially when it came to the album’s biggest singles, Hotline Bling and One Dance. However, it’s clear now that Drake knows exactly how to achieve the perfect balance between his signature style of rap and the more mainstream pop sound, a technique which has worked well for him ever since. In that respect, Views can most definitely be admired as the first sign that this transition was a good direction for Drake – not every track is perfect, but the good ones are pretty close.
Oh, and while we’re here… it may have been at the core of the internet’s jokes for a while, but Hotline Bling is an unironic, certified bop. Six years on from its release, isn’t it time we admitted it?
2. Nothing Was The Same (2013)
Drake’s third album was the one that truly changed the trajectory of his career – and it’s easy to see why.
Few would argue against anyone that calls Nothing Was The Same one of the strongest R&B albums of the last decade – it undoubtedly is. The album spawned huge hits for Drake, including some which remain amongst his most iconic tracks to date, such as Started From The Bottom and Hold On, We’re Going Home.
This album also contained far fewer collaborations than we’re used to seeing from Drake’s albums and mixtapes, which allowed listeners to get a better idea of exactly who Drake was and to get a feel for his sound. Overall, a great album and undoubtedly some of his best work to date.
1. Take Care (2011)
A year on from the release of his debut album, Drake released Take Care – a collection of 18 tracks that could be accurately described as a masterclass in defining an entire sub-genre.
This was perhaps the origin of Drake’s image as the poster boy of ‘sad rap’ and yet there’s plenty more to it than that. Take Care is a look into the mind of a star on the rise, whose sudden launch to fame has been as confusing and, at times, difficult as it has been triumphant. It may sound a little melancholy (and there are certainly some melancholy moments) but Take Care follows a pretty winning narrative – ‘It’s lonely at the top, so you might as well have some fun on the way up’.
Ten years on, Drake is expected to release his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, later this year. With such a title having already caught the attention of the skeptics amongst his fanbase, anticipation is just as high as you’d expect, so it’s certainly worth revisiting the rest of his discography in the meantime – we’re sure you’ll agree that Take Care is one part of this huge catalogue of work that is both strange and incredibly satisfying to enjoy in retrospect.
Listen to these albums and more on Drake’s Spotify. Certified Lover Boy is expected to be released this summer 2021.