10 Best: Drake
By: Connor Lenahan
This is going to get me in trouble, I know it. Drake is the most popular rapper on the planet and inspires some of the most intense debate about his catalog possible. I, for one, was not a fan of Views whatsoever. But I’m in the minority there. Drake has hits upon hits like few others. But what are his ten best songs?
Let’s try to answer that. And almost assuredly you’re not going to like my answers. I stand by them, come at me.
One caveat: These are only proper Drake songs. No features only because this was a hard enough list to cut to 10.
10. 6PM in New York
Drake is amazing when he’s angry. There are few more fun things as a rap fan then when Drake sets his sights on an enemy and lays down bars with a purpose. He can have his songs that blow up the club like “Know Yourself” all he wants – and make a ton of money doing it – but it’s when he unleashes his talent and just goes for four and a half minutes with out anything more than a one sentence chorus that ear respect. If we get one furious Drake album in this lifetime then all bets are off. Tyga didn’t have street cred before, and Drake made sure he never has it again here.
9. Marvin’s Room
We now go to the “Drake in His Feelings” section of the list. Petty to no end and making arguably poor decisions with his phone, Drake’s anthem to broken relationships and drunk dials is offensively catchy. Frankly, this is a more beautiful song than it has any right to be. And is there another Drake line “I’m just saying you could do better” that resonates more as a real feeling and catchphrase. You could make a case for this being a microcosm of his career, and I’d entertain this being higher on the list.
I actually am arguing with myself about how low this song is on my own list. Here’s where I think it kind of bothers me: “0-100” would have been the best song on either of Drake’s last two projects had it not been dropped as a random single. This isn’t a strong reason to dock it points, but this was a song that could have elevated an entire album. I think it’s unwise to leave something this fantastic to fend for itself, even if it’s one of the absolute best efforts he’s had in his entire run.
7. The Motto
“The Motto” is sneakily one of the catchiest songs of the 2000s. I’m pretty sure that this is maybe the only Drake song that every fan would know every word to. 100%. I am probably wrong, but this is fairly perfect as an eternal ear-worm. I’m astonished this song hasn’t had some of the staying power as his other hits. Drake’s biggest talent, and something undeniable for his entire career, is his ability to write hooks. This will forever be one of his best in that category.
6. Too Much
Drake is again in his feelings here, but “Too Much” is a tour-de-force. He’s got a knack for being vulnerable and honest in public unlike most artists and unique in a way that Kanye West and Frank Ocean aren’t. He’s explicitly airing his dirty laundry. “Too Much” stands in for the conversation he wants to have with his mother but can’t bring himself to begin. This slot on the list can be exchanged with “Look What You’ve Done” from Take Care if you’re so inclined, but I can’t bring myself to cry at the voicemail outro again.
There’s no elegant way to describe what’s in my head here. “Headlines” is just pound-for-pound terrific. Every aspect of performance that Drake is talented at shines here. It’s not as incredible in vulnerability as “Too Much,” it’s not a worldwide sensation like “Hotline Bling,” it’s just great verses, a great hook, great Toronto love, and great in general. He doesn’t have that many tracks where he’d get A’s across the board, but this is certainly at the top.
4. Back to Back
Here’s where my docking of “0-100” becomes bullshit, but I can defend this. We need more people to piss off Drake, because like Adele and Taylor Swift before him, he is at his best when he’s got vengeance in his eyes and anger in his heart. Meek Mill will never be cool again, which honestly isn’t that impressive a feat. But to obliterate a challenger with the vocal force to turn an entire continent against you in one of his catchiest songs? If Jay-Z called Drake soft in public we might get the best rap album of the decade.
Because we’ve had Drake in our lives for so long, and so often, we have entirely forgotten one of the earliest indicators that he was something special. “Over” is eternally underrated and hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves for establishing Aubrey Graham as a legitimate star. This is Drake at his hungriest and most pure. I was decently close to putting this higher, if not for…
2. Hotline Bling
This one is simple. “Hotline Bling” is an undeniable global hit and catchy as all hell. This will be one of the first songs mentioned in Drake’s obituary – a morose idea, but not wrong. Plus I challenge you to find someone that truly despises this song. They don’t exist.
1. Hold On, We’re Going Home
More than anything, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” might go down as the best pop song of this decade and the last 15 years. That sounds like it’s impossible, but there are few songs that have the chance for immortality that this does. Think about it: “Hold On, We’re Going Home” will have legs as a wedding anthem forever. That sounds corny, but it will ensure that Drake has a legacy beyond rap fans. This is one of his biggest crossover hits, with “Hotline Bling”, and the best chance he has at being remembered in 50 years. This is an amazing track, reminding the world that Aubrey has pipes for life, and probably the best written track he’s ever had.
You’ll likely want to blow up everything 10-2, but you can’t find a way to deny the pop mastery that is “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”