It has already set a record for the most streams for a new album in its first week of release and is all but guaranteed a debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 next week. “Scorpion”, Drake’s eighth full length album, has been the buzz of the music world since last Friday and possibly will continue throughout the summer. For Drake, being the talk of the business isn’t exactly something new.
After being in the midst of a public feud with Pusha T, which revealed to the world that he was a father, anticipation was at an all-time high for music’s hottest attraction. With an already impressive catalog, where does his new album rank alongside his other releases? After three fun days of listening, below is the ranking of each of Drake’s albums, including his most recent release.
#8 – “What a Time to Be Alive” (Joint Album with Future, 2015): To say this album was somewhat random is an understatement. Built slowly on catchy cliches and amped up beats that made urban music a hot commodity in 2015, this installment isn’t either rapper’s finest hour. While there are surely examples of radio friendly delight, like mild-cut “Jump Man”, and trendy glimpses of flashiness, “Diamonds Dancing”, the project as a whole fell flat and easily the worst of Drake’s catalog.
#7- “More Life” (2017): While not officially dubbed as an album, more so as a playlist in the era of streaming, While the effort presented some rather impressive exploration of sound with gems like “Passionfruit” and “Blem”, and hip-hop bangers like “Sacrifices” and “Portland”, the album as a whole felt overflowed. The album felt cluttered with too many tracks and not enough proper transitions to represent one solid body of work. As a result, the album felt as a disappointment from an artist as decorative as Drake.
#6- “If You’re Reading This Right Now It’s Too Late” (2015): Again, similar to the previously mentioned LPs, this was not labeled as an album, but instead a mixtape. Regardless of its specific distinction, it was released as an album and performed to the degree that Drake albums tend too. The quality of this one, however, was a step up from the last two mentioned. Several of Drake’s more party-type records, built on cliches, came from this one, including “Energy” and “Legend”. The biggest standout on the album is the ballad “Now and Forever”, which fits the mold perfect for the rest of Drizzy’s more sentimental numbers.
#5- “Views” (2016): Anticipation was high for this album. A formal album release from Drake hadn’t been on the scene since 2013. With buzz circulating mostly from the promo single, “Hotline Bling”, and later #1 single “One Dance”, expectations for Views were high. Unfortunately, it was received as a mixed bag. Despite being nominated for several industry awards, many felt the work seemed lagging and jam-packed for it’s own good. While there are still several gems and vulnerable records on the LP, the somber mood of the album matched the weather for the entire month it was released: rain.
#4- “Scorpion” (2018): His strongest set since 2013’s NWSTS, “Scorpion” finds the now veteran rapper at his absolute best. He confidently is at the top of not just rap, but all of music. With two consecutive #1 singles, “God’s Plan” and “Nice For What”, Drake’s momentum is at an all-time high. The album features an A and B side, that includes both rap and hip-hop inspired records. The overall commonality in the work is it’s focus on women perspectives, as evident in standouts “Emotionless”, which features a timeless Mariah Carey sample, “That’s How You Feel”, and the Michael Jackson featured “Don’t Matter to Me”. The album will also be noted for his first formal addresses of his son.
#3- “Thank Me Later” (2010): Drake’s debut LP introduced him to rap fans at a time where the competition level was at a scorching fever pitch. Lil’ Wayne, T.I., Eminem, Jeezy, Kanye West, Gucci Mane, Jay-Z, and even Nicki Minaj were all battling for top spots on the charts. Fortunately for Drake, his first LP proved why he would be here to stay: his versatility. The 14-song set is a nice blend between Drake’s softer side (“Find Your Love”, “Fireworks”), and his ability to light-up the radio (“Up All Night”, “Miss Me”, “Fancy”). Add that to a fierce line up of featured guests and producers, and you have one of the most infectious rap debuts of this generation.
#2- “Nothing Was The Same” (2013): Originally, I was not a large fan of this album. After several listens, I realized the less is more approach Drake was shooting for, and in doing so, he masterfully depicts one of the strongest, arguably the strongest, set of his entire career. Lead by the emotional ballad “Hold On We’re Going Home”, NWTS doesn’t follow that same sound, but it sure does keep that single’s vision of daring, descriptive storytelling over captivating, semi-trapped synthetic beats mixed with appropriate R&B elements. The shortest set of his discography, as a body of work, few Drake albums could hold the consistency this one does from beginning to end.
#1- “Take Care” (2011): Some many argue this album is too much for it’s own good. Others will argue that despite the many tracks, it flows smoothly with effortless transitions and seamless hidden messages. After giving Drake his largest first week sales of his career, “Take Care” showed the world Drake was more than a rapper, he was an artist. For once, the ballads he sang over had solid emotion and meaning. The production didn’t feel overworked or too gimmicky. And the end result was a masterpiece worthy of being arguably the best album of 2011 and of his entire career.