Drake Appreciation Post: Drizzy's 20 Best Songs
Photos by Marco Torres
"Best I Ever Had" Every dude wants to be the best his girl has ever had, and this So Far Gone track solidifies Drizzy's over-the-top confidence one hashtag-rap line at a time. It also perfectly samples the amazing Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds song "Falling In Love." MARCO TORRES
"Don't You Have a Man," feat. Little Brother The idea of Drake as a rapper of serious intent started forming around Comeback Season, his 2007 mixtape where he seemed far more interested in rapping like Phonte of Little Brother than being his own man. The two worlds collided on "Don't You Have a Man," a track that now seems pretty humorous when it falls in line with the "Drake's a Nice Guy" narrative. There's some whimsy here. Both Phonte and Big Pooh rap with the self-awareness of being the other man and then there's Drake, more than ready to admit he's got one up on the other guy in a cute-romance sort of way. BRANDO
"Dreams Money Can Buy" In the time period between Thank Me Later and Take Care, Drake snapped. Well, not went off the deep end, but he started releasing loosies and tracks that made you pay far more attention to him as a legit threat to the top. Jai Paul's "BTSTU" remains the only track we've gotten from his stolen LP, but Drake's shots here may have been his sharpest. There's no mode of syncretic thought here -- Drake admires the legends before him, but he'll be damned if they lord it over him forever. BRANDO
"Fancy," feat. T.I. & Swizz Beatz One can argue that every Drizzy song is for the ladies, but this one is just a bit more lady-centric than the others. An ode to the beautiful, independent women he often runs into on his travels, this smooth Thank Me Later track is delivered with a smile and charisma that can seduce the panties off even the most conservative babymama. MARCO TORRES
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"Fireworks" Between this and the "Un-thinkable" remix, I've always felt it was a real shame that we'll never get a Drake/Alicia Keys duets album. Their voices just go so well together. For my money, this is easily Drake's strongest Side-1-Track-1, including perhaps his best overdramatic, heart-on-his-sleeve lyric in "Let's stay together 'til we're ghosts." It's also just a really well-produced song, one of the highlights of his work with Noah "40" Shebib. CORY GARCIA
"Forever" "Last name ever, first name greatest." What was at the time a youthful boast may just end up being the ultimate called shot. This is perhaps the ultimate version of Drake's "cockiest motherfucker alive" persona, but damned if he doesn't sound like he absolutely means it.
Eminem and Lil Wayne both have great verses on this, and Kanye chips in with a rare, non-awful guest verse, but really does anyone actually remember anything besides what Drake has to say? Of course not. That he managed to pull that off in '09 before he really was the man just makes it even crazier. CORY GARCIA
List continues on the next page.
"Going Home" Yes, this song has been way overplayed on just about any medium possible, but it's a great song, so stop. Drake's kinda sweet and self-effacing on this lourvey-love song, which is a nice change from, uh, whatever it is he does with Lil Wayne. And we have always secretly been hoping he'll steal Rihanna's heart. But to be fair, if this song didn't get 'er done, hope may be lost on that front. ANGELICA LEICHT
"Houstatlantavegas" Houston is Drake's adopted second home, so it would make sense that we'd love a song where Drake basically nods to our city's rowdiness, or a fictional city that's an amalgam of Houston, Atlanta and Vegas. No one's sure what Drake is actually talking about in this song, really, but that matters little. What does matter is that Drake loves Houston, and we love Drake. The end. ANGELICA LEICHT
"HYFR (Hell Yeah Fucking Right)," feat. Lil Wayne Just when critics and haters begin to question Drake's rapping ability, he hits them with a seemingly impossible first verse on this Take Care track that includes more syllables than a James Joyce novel. Is he one of the best rappers alive? Hell yeah. Fucking right. MARCO TORRES
"Little Bit," feat. Lykke Li To this day people will readily run to So Far Gone as the definitive Drake project, where his emotions and thoughts on becoming something fully morphed into a character. "Little Bit" turned the Swedish pop singer Lykke Li's solo act into a duet where Drake reflects on a fling now ashed away. Vulnerable Drake songs about things people can relate to are why you haphazardly sing "Marvin's Room" when no one's around. BRANDO
"Lord Knows," feat. Rick Ross Here lies Drake at his most absolute, some 20 months before "Worst Behavior" became his simplest middle finger. Among producer Just Blaze's triumphant piano and choir-heavy chorus, Drake quips "Weezy and Stunna my only role models" before calling himself a descendent of "Marley and Hendrix," and that he knows he makes songs for dudes who get sex and then some. You can crack on him all he wants, he's just going to keep coming. BRANDO
"Marvin's Room" Everyone, no matter what their genre, needs their epic, and not every epic needs to be all bombast, fireworks and cannons going off. This is Drake at his most Drake, pining away for a girl while also taking a moment to work in the fact that yeah, he's still having lots of sex. But it works because he doesn't overplay his hand, doesn't beat his point to death. He manages to paint a very vivid story without saying a lot. That's what the best poetry does. CORY GARCIA
"Miss Me" There's just so much cool stuff going on in this song: talking about wanting to marry Nicki Minaj; "Do right and kill everything"; a hook that he absolutely murders; Bun B showing up for half a second; a great beat. It's also far and away the best Drake/Lil Wayne collaboration, the latter absolutely on one with his verse. Kind of ironic though, in the sense that Drake is so omnipresent now that we never get to miss him. I mean, when was the last time he didn't have something on the airwaves? CORY GARCIA
"No Lie" While this song technically belongs to 2 Chainz, we're going to give it to Drake anyway, because if anyone can make 2 Chainz interesting, it's Drizzy Drake. Here 2 Chainz's flow is overbearing and rowdy in every way, but when he's layered with Drake's silky-smooth hook and those lines about all the groupie noise, the contrast between the two adds up to perfection. Wheelchair Jimmy 4eva. ANGELICA LEICHT
List continues on the next page.
"No New Friends" Listen, Drake doesn't need new friends, a'ight? Neither does Rick Ross or DJ Khaled, but this is a great Drake song nonetheless, as the trio rap and sing about how their old crew is all they need to keep shit real. Little-known fact: the original version of this song has an outro featuring Future, so the ghost verse gives it bonus points. ANGELICA LEICHT
"Put It Down" (Bun B feat. Drake) This track moves about as slow as the traffic on the 610 Loop at rush hour, perfect for a night of kicking back with a double cup and your favorite herbal remedy as you listen to Drake. One of the big singles from Bun's third solo album, 2010's Trill O.G., "Put It Down" exemplifies the Country Rap Tune aesthetic, which is crawling, hard, soulful and oh so very smooth. Drake contributes a mesmerizing hook and third verse, reminding the world that he certainly puts it down every time he comes around. MARCO TORRES
"Ransom," feat. Lil Wayne The launching point for every Drake and Wayne collaboration, this 2008 loosie finds Wayne pretty much on his A-game and Drake trying his damndest to get his boss's attention. There's no chorus here, just punchline after punchline from both Drake and Wayne, but nothing comes close to the absolutely clever perfection of "you ain't heard of me, you should get a Blue's Clue/ Oops I mean red clue, Wayne's here SooWoo." Since then, Drake/Wayne tracks are undefeated, including the most recent one, "Believe Me." BRANDO
"Shut It Down" Remember when Drake was going to release an R&B mixtape and he dropped "I'll Get Lonely Too." Super-bummed that was never a thing that happened. There are a ton of great slow jams in the Drake canon, but this one makes the best case that if he released an album full of slow-tempo, baby-making music, nine months after it dropped there would be a lot of kids named Aubrey being born across the country. It also gets bonus points for Drake's Herculean feat of dragging this song up into something special, even with that silly verse from The-Dream. CORY GARCIA
"Started From the Bottom" Rap songs are always better with a bit of ambient piano sampling. Drake's anthem about how he started at the bottom and now he's here samples "Ambessence Piano and Drones" by Bruno Sanfilippo and Mathias Grassow, and somehow the entire conglomeration makes complete sense. Drake seems like the kind of guy who would sit around with a glass of cognac listening to some ambient music. No? Just us? Even if it's not true at all that Drizzy started from the bottom (he started on Degrassi), we can still dig it. ANGELICA LEICHT
"What Up" (Pimp C feat. Drake & Bun B) The first single from Pimp C's posthumously released solo album, 2010's The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones, includes a hypnotic fanfare intro, a litany of appreciation for H-Town's strip clubs, and all of the pimpadelic attitude a Southern rap fan can handle. Drake expresses his love for Houston by once again proclaiming himself "an honorary resident of UGK Town."
One can only imagine how humorous an actual meeting between Pimp and Drizzy would have been, and this track brings us as close to that scenario as we're ever going to get. Pimp and Bun deliver classic UGK verses over the excellent beat courtesy of longtime Drake collaborator Boi-1da, making this an infinitely repeatable track on any Best Of Drake playlist. MARCO TORRES
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