Drake doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Since he burst onto the scene in the late 2000s he has been one of the most dominant artists in history. He has solidified his place as not only one of the most popular and successful artists in the world, but also as one of the greatest rappers of all time. Billboard even named him the artist of the last decade. He has countless hit songs and even more scene-stealing guest appearances.
12 of his projects, which includes albums, mixtapes, collaborative efforts, a playlist and a compilation have peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard’s album chart. But which of Drake’s projects is really the best? When it comes to ranking the best Drake albums, there are definitely different factors to consider. Throughout his projects there are so many highlights, from club bangers to introspective ballads to him experimenting with different sounds and flows.
With the release of his most recent album, Her Loss, we thought it would be an excellent time to take a step back and look at all of the projects that led to this point. Below, we’ve ranked every single one of Drake’s albums and mixtapes (and a compilation and a playlist) from worst to best. Let us know what you think about our picks.
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The title of Drake’s first mixtape would end up being slightly prophetic, as so much of his work is. It’s not that Room For Improvement is a bad project per se because it’s not. Some fans swear to this day that he’ll never outdo this era of music. That feels like an exaggeration, though. The raps here are raw and unpolished, and Drake was yet to stand out from the pack with his signature style. This is certainly worth a listen, though, especially ‘City Is Mine’ and his freestyle over Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Kick Push.’
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Drake’s second mixtape was in a similar lane to his first, but hints of the superstar that we’d be introduced to a couple of years later were now a little more present. Even if you haven’t sat with the 2007 mixtape from start to finish, you’ve more than likely heard ‘Replacement Girl’ with Trey Songz, which Drake credits as his first time collaborating with a star from the States. Some other guests on here that Hip-Hop heads wish Drake would have collaborated with since, like Phonte, Lil Brother, and Elzhi.
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Throughout the top of 2020, Drake music was leaking very frequently. In a few months, fans had an album’s worth of leaks like ‘Not Around,’ ‘Zodiac Sign’ with Jessie Reyez, and ‘Vital.’ Drake addressed them once on Instagram Live, saying that they were all old.
The leaks ended up giving him the idea of compiling some music that he had sitting around, and the result was Dark Lane Demo Tapes. It gave loosies’ War’ and ‘Desires’ a home, gave us the final versions of ‘Deep Pockets’ and ‘From Florida With Love’ and gave fans the full version of ‘Not You Too’ and ‘Pain 1993’, which fans had been playing snippets of on repeat. The project has some gems on it, namely ‘When To Say When’ and ‘Chicago Freestyle,’ but overall, it falls short of Drake’s standard with official albums and mixtapes, which is why it’s labeled as a compilation on streaming services.
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Drake switched things up for seventh studio album, Honestly, Nevermind. The surprise album leaned heavy into house and Baltimore club vibes. It dropped only nine months after the release of Certified Lover Boy and featured only one pure rap song, which was the album’s outro, “Jimmy Cooks.” The 21 Savage-assisted banger debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Drake eleventh chart-topper. HipHopDX’s Vivian Medithi put it best, “He stopped making the Drake album we want him to make and made the Drake album Drake wants to make.” For many Drizzy fans, the album was a little too experimental. For others, lyrically it was underwhelming. The 14-track album’s production, however, was top-notch. Drake collaborated with Black Coffee, DJ Carnage and other producers to help bring his vision to life. Hate it or love it, Honestly, Nevermind will be remembered as one of Drake’s most ambitious projects ever.
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Drake and 21 Savage have an undeniable creative chemistry. So it’s only right that the two frequent collaborators would link up for a collaborative project. The 16-track album titled, Her Loss features contributions from platinum producers including Metro Boomin, Boi-1da, Tay Keith,Vinylz, Wheezy, Taz Taylor and Oz. Travis Scott drops off a verse on “Pussy & Millions,” while Birdman talks his shit on “Middle of the Ocean.” Lil Yachty’s name also appears in the album credits due to his production on several tracks, including “BackOutsideBoyz,” “Privileged Rappers,” “Pussy & Millions” and “Jumbotron Shit Poppin.” Prior to the release of the album, Drake and 21 did a little trolling by doing fake Tiny Desk, SNL (Michael B. Jordan) and Color performances; releasing a fake Vogue cover and doing a fake Howard Stern interview. Landed at No. 1 pushing 404,000 album-equivalent units and earning more than 513 million on-demand streams in its first week.
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It’s funny to remember now, but Drake’s joint mixtape with Future originally came about out of spite for Meek Mill. We were fresh off of ‘Charged Up,’ ‘Back To Back,’ and ‘Wanna Know,’ and a few months before it all on The Breakfast Club, Meek named Future as one of the only artists he listens to day-to-day. That was without a doubt a major reason that Drake decided to do What A Time To Be Alive in the first place. He is the self-proclaimed “petty king,” after all.
Naturally, many of Drake’s verses on this are sprinkled with brags about winning the beef and subtle shots, but not enough for the tape to not be relevant and playable in 2021.
The main criticisms of this project are that, at times, it feels more like a Future project with Drake features on it than a 50/50 collaboration. With that being said, ‘Digital Dash’ and ‘Diamonds Dancing’ remain standouts in either’s discography. Both of them made our recent list of the 50 best Drake songs.
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More Life isn’t an album. It isn’t a mixtape. It isn’t even a compilation. It’s a playlist. At least, that’s what it was marketed as.
Essentially, there’s not too much difference about it structurally to a tape or compilation project. You could argue that Skepta and Sampha having their own songs on it lends itself to more of a playlist, but Drake also gave Kendrick his own song on Take Care, PARTYNEXTDOOR his own song on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and Majid Jordan their own song on Views.
Judging it as a piece of music, there are some great moments on here. Some of them are Drake’s energy on ‘Free Smoke’ and his upgrade from ‘Controlla’ to ‘Blem’ on here. However, the project suffers from the same thing that a couple of other projects on this list did. It’s too damn long. In all honesty, the playlist tag feels more like an excuse for not thinking so much about concepts, transitions, and themes than anything.
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Drake entered the game with his third mixtape, So Far Gone, having an impact like a big album. While that’s the kind of thing artists pray for and fantasize about, it meant that on his actual first album, he had all of the pressures of the infamous sophomore slump.
When you look at the tracklist for Thank Me Later, the first thing you’ll notice is how star-studded it is. JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Alicia Keys make appearances on it, while Timbaland, Kanye West, and No I.D. are some of the producers that the L.P. boasts work from. This was entirely intentional, and it was Drizzy trying to prove to the world that a kid from Canada could not only get features from big names like this but hang with them too.
In terms of sound, TML felt like a transition from the melancholy, atmospheric vibe of So Far Gone, which was later reapproached and mastered on Take Care. It feels like Drake has been thrust into his position as a superstar and doesn’t know what to do with it.
Despite that, it’s a concise project with incredible highs like ‘Shut It Down’ and ‘Light Up.’
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Until about a month before Scorpion dropped, Drake had done everything right. In response to the idea that he took smaller artists’ songs and jumped on them to take their shine, he did ‘Look Alive’ with BlocBoy JB and did the video with him. He gave away $1 million in the ‘God’s Plan’ video. He put black women on a pedestal for the ‘Nice For What’ visual. But then, the Pusha T beef hit its height.
‘The Story Of Adidon’ put pressure on Drake like we could have never imagined for someone of his magnitude. Scorpion was his answer and a direct one at that.
Somewhat controversially, Drake spent a lot of time of the Rap portion of the album talking about Pusha T and Kanye West. Some felt that it took away from the album, while others argued that it gave the music a fierce edge that was necessary.
All in all, Scorpion could have been a really great album if Drake wasn’t married to the idea of doing a double-disc. There’s just too much fat on it to place any higher on the list.
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Views is an album that was so critically acclaimed when it dropped that people put a little too much weight on its flaws, perhaps just to be contrarians. The album’s commercial success puts it in a weird space.
Drake has said that the concept of Views is inspired by the weather in Toronto, specifically the extremes of its harsh winters and scorching summers. He told Zane Lowe that the album starts off in the winter, takes us through the summer, and ends again in the winter. That feels a little bit like an afterthought to justify having some moody music and some fun records on the same project.
Either way, Drake’s fourth studio album doesn’t get the credit it deserves for doing what it did for Afrobeats and Dancehall. Whether anyone likes it or not, Drake popularised the genres for a mainstream audience, and Views encapsulates that moment perfectly with songs like ‘One Dance’ and ‘Controlla.’ We’re not sure anyone could blend a handful of genres together more smoothly than this.
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For some, as is always the case, the nostalgia of Drake’s 2009 mixtape So Far Gone means that it can never be topped.
With this project, Drake created an aura attached to Hip-Hop and R&B music from Toronto for a decade. As he poetically put it on ‘Say What’s Real,’ it marks the moment that he transitioned “from fitting into standing out.”
There are hard Rap moments like ‘Uptown’ and vulnerable gems like ‘Brand New’, and they live in harmony under the same umbrella.
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Drake’s sophomore album took the ‘contentious relationship with fame’ topics from Thank Me Later and mixed it with the desolation of So Far Gone. The result is the project that shaped Drake’s career and gave us an authentic glimpse of the places he could go as an artist.
Take Care is flawed only by its overly sweet moments like ‘Make Me Proud’ and ‘We’ll Be Fine’ that piece through its ambiance and even feel out of place conceptually. To Drake and 40’s credit, they acknowledged that the album was slightly too long and went out of their way to fix that for Drake’s next album.
When you talk Take Care, The Weeknd’s contribution must always be acknowledged. The singer helped Drake in some of the more ballad moments and gave up some of his own music for the project.
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Technically a mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late came at a time when Drake had gone around a year and a half without an album and needed a sort of bridge to the already-announced Views.
Drake had always wanted to lock in with Boi-1da and do a tape full of more aggressive Rap songs, which was the perfect opportunity. We ended up with a cold project that had much more impact than Drake intended or anticipated.
IYRTITL is Drake’s second-best body of work because it’s one of his easiest to play from start to finish, and although it’s evident that part of Drake’s goal with it was to put on banger after banger without giving much thought to transitions or a larger picture, that’s also one of its gifts.
For some, this LP will always be marred by its association with Quentin Miller, but if you’re able to look past his contributions, the 2015 tape is special.
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Coming off of Take Care, there was a transition taking place for Drake. He was turning from ‘the leader of the new guys’ to just one of the top rappers, his idols truly becoming his peers and rivals. He was well aware of the perception that he was the #1 rapper on the planet in 2013, and he owned it, no pun intended.
Nothing Was The Same’s title even alludes to the fact, as does a lot of its content. “Fuck all that ‘happy to be here’ shit that y’all want me on, I’m the big homie,” he acknowledges on ‘Paris Morton Music 2’.
It helped that he was coming off of a fight with Chris Brown, and tension with Kendrick Lamar was already building. ‘The Language’ sees Drake dismiss the Compton MC entirely, singing, “I don’t know why they been lying, but your shit is not that inspiring.” He was stepping up to the plate, unapologetically so.
More than anything, NWTS is the project that it felt like Drake and 40 had been trying to make up until that point. The rapper talked about correcting the mistakes of Take Care where two good songs could have been one song and intentionally capping himself to 13 tracks. It paid off.