Drake’s Catalog Resides In a Glass Case of Emotion
Early Drake: At Philadelphia's Made In America festival, 2012
Photo by Marco Torres
To call Drake emotional is a bit of an understatement. It’s akin to saying J.J. Watt is strong. Or that the Red Hot Chili Peppers kinda like singing songs about California. It’s technically true, but those statements don’t do their subjects near enough justice. Drake has run the gamut of emotions since Thank Me Later dropped more than six years ago. That emotional journey only intensified this year with the release of the unfairly criticized Views.
A trip through his catalog yields any number of personas for hip-hop’s biggest chameleon. There’s sad Drake; Drake the lover; pissed-off Drake; Drake the club banger. With Drake and Future scheduled to play Toyota Center September 3-4, here’s a look at some of Drake’s most emotionally-charged tracks.
Ah yes, the drunken booty call. We’ve all been there, including rich, talented, handsome types such as Drake. You know the deal – you come home late after a night of drinking, and you reach for the phone. You know it’s not a good idea, and you know you shouldn’t make that call, but you do it anyway. “Marvin’s Room” is basically six minutes of Drake doing just that to a former flame, one who has moved on with someone else. For anyone who’s ever let “the one” get away, it’s a painful reminder that life goes on.
"Look What You’ve Done"
Give Drake credit: his deepest tracks come from a place of genuine emotion. That’s particularly true for “Look What You’ve Done,” an ode to his grandmother. The song was released in 2011 as Evelyn Sher’s health was failing, and retraces her and Drake’s history — both good and bad. The song, which even features a voicemail recording from Drake’s grandmother, had to hit him particularly hard on Thanksgiving of the following year, when Sher passed away.
"Started From the Bottom"
Drake has been tabbed as soft by those who cite his child-actor background, as well as his pop-friendly raps. Well, even Drake has a boiling point, as evidenced by this track, a giant “fuck you” to the haters. Drake charts his upbringing – which wasn’t nearly as picturesque as some portray – and blasts those who doubt his hunger and struggle. This is Drake the rapper at his finest.
No one is spared on this track from last year’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late mixtape. Detractors. Women. Peers. Hell, even the Internet and social media aren’t spared from Drake’s vitriol. The man has enemies, and they’re trying to drain him of his energy. Judging by the sheer amount of Drake’s musical output over the past decade, those enemies may want to try a little harder.
Drake has made no secret of his love for strip clubs, nor has he made a secret of his love for our fair city. So he went ahead and combined the two on this track from 2009’s So Far Gone mixtape, which makes sense, considering Houston — along with Atlanta and Las Vegas — ranks among the strip-club capitals of America. Of course, it’s not a total club banger; Drake uses “Houstatlantavegas” as a way to detail the life of a love-gone-wrong, one who can’t or simply doesn’t want to leave the nightlife behind.
The song of Summer Sixteen is a rarity — a dance-club track that’s actually about dancing. There’s not much else to say about “One Dance” that hasn’t already been covered, save for its status as a nearly perfect pop song. It’s got a catchy beat, nice hook and clocks in at just under three minutes. No wonder it became Drake’s first No. 1 radio single as a lead artist.
"Hold On, We’re Going Home"
Drake’s love songs are often coated in sadness but “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – despite being a breakup track – is of the more optimistic variety. Drake regrets that their time together didn’t work out, and “it’s hard to do these things alone.” Plus, he sees untapped potential in his lady and wants that potential to shine through. This has to rank among the most popular tracks when trying to woo a former flame back into the fold.
"Best I Ever Had"
“You the fuckin best/ Best I ever had.” Drake doesn’t hold back on this track, arguably his best straight-up love song. Yeah, he’s been with other girls before, but they pale in comparison to his current partner. It takes a special type of talent to vacillate between sappy love songs like “Best I Ever Had” and hard-ass raps like “Forever” and “Energy.” That crossover appeal is the primary reason Drake will play before two sold-out crowds in Houston over Labor Day weekend.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.