Which is Drake’s Best Project?
5 albums. 2 EPs. 5 mixtapes. One playlist. Drake hasn’t had a studio album that hasn’t reached #1 on the charts. He has had the most #1 singles on both the US Hot Raps Songs chart and the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. He has spent the last 221 weeks on the Billboard Top 100 Artists list, so, I think it’s fair to say that Drake is one of the biggest artists in the world. To determine which is Drake’s best project, we have to dig much deeper than the numbers, because each project sets another standard for his career.
There are 4 I would consider for the top spot in Drake’s discography, but allow me to explain which one’s don’t make the cut and why. To start, Drake released Room for Improvement in 2006, and it was just that. The title says it all. There are glimpses of potential, but this mixtape wasn’t anything too special.
The following year, in 2007, Drake released Comeback Season which is personally one of my favorite Drake projects, but it’s not peak Drake. It really showed that he was serious about rap and that was something he needed to prove, because he was still Wheelchair Jimmy in the eyes of the rap world.
So Far Gone was his first real taste of stardom in rap. After he dropped that mixtape in 2009, he was signed to Young Money, and the project was repackaged as an EP that debuted at #2 on the charts. The project felt good to me, but I felt there were a few throwaway/filler tracks on it, and I assume someone agrees with me, because the repackaged version cut the length of the project from 18 songs to 7 songs.
2010 brought us Thank Me Later, and apart from the singles, I found this album lack luster. However, the singles on the project were big hits. What A Time to Be Alive was a collaborative effort between Drake and Future, and it was a fun and catchy project, but it had no longevity whatsoever. The music was forgettable, and that’s the worst part about it.
Lastly, Views and Scorpion were both good albums. Views showed potential with extremely catchy hits, but it had some throwaway tracks, and it wasn’t the follow up to If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late that everyone was looking for. With Scorpion, I feel like Drake was attempting to do too much. There were few hits hidden within the 25-song album, and everything else felt like filler. We also see Drake backpedaling from his beef with Pusha T on this album, and maybe it was just back timing, but this album wasn’t anything special in my eyes.
Which projects would I consider for the top spot? I think Take Care, Nothing Was the Same, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, and More Life can all be argued for the Drake’s best project spot.
More Life is the project of this lot that gets the least respect. Due to the fact that it was labeled a playlist and advertised as the B-side takes from Views, people didn’t take it too seriously. It turns out that this playlist would end up better than Views. A lot better. We get a great mix of both the rapper and melodic singer that Drake is, and it came as a great surprise, but this project was severely overlooked. To put it in perspective, Views has sold 1.23 million copies; More Life has sold 343,000 copies. This playlist is literally hit after hit, and I have no idea why Drake never really capitalized on this project.
If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late is Drake at his highest rap tier. This mixtape was bar-for-bar Drake’s best work to date. This was his follow up project to Nothing Was the Same, and he did not disappoint. Songs like “10 Bands” and “Used To” showcase Drake’s hitmaking ability in light of the ghostwriting situation revolving around the song “Know Yourself”. It was no longer about who wrote it but who performed it better, and it changed the rap game.
With Nothing Was the Same, Drake showed his most versatile face. This album not only catapulted Drake to stardom, but it also showcased his ability to diversify himself. “From Time” and “Own It” show his ability to make slow songs. The whole album is very introspective while maintaining Drake’s signature style and hitmaking. Songs like “All Me” showcase his confidence, but he doesn’t hesitate to open up on tracks like “Connect”. Almost any track on this album could’ve been a single, and each song can hold its own. The album is very cohesive and gave Drake the ability to have albums (like Views) hold the #1 spot on the charts, break streaming records, and sell a large amount of copies.
The highest grossing of the lot is Take Care. Does selling the most copies mean that it’s the best album? Maybe? Take Care was very introspective and dark; most songs centered around Drake speaking to his own issues or going off about his love life. At the same time, this album is Drake’s best R&B work to date. “Marvin’s Room”, a track dedicated to the Marvin Gaye, is one of the essential Drake tracks that you must hear to really understand who Drake is as an artist. The album as a whole is very solid and full of hits like “The Motto” which had everyone saying YOLO for the following two years.
So, which of these albums is the best? Is it the melodic and soulful Take Care? How about the hard hitting If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late? The fun, surprising, Caribbean-influenced More Life? Or how about the well-rounded showcase of Nothing Was the Same?