It’s no secret that Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole have been the big three in Hip-hop for the last decade. The latter two are considered all-time great lyricists and have deep, thought-provoking lyrics, while Drake has always taken a different approach. He’s more direct and cuts deep with his words. Over the years, Drake has delivered some memorable bars worthy of Instagram captions for almost any situation. Here are a few of my favorite songs where I think the 6 God’s pen game is the strongest.
Lord Knows: Anytime Drake and Rick Ross get together, it’s special. Producer, Just Blaze threw the lob, and the two rappers slammed it home. Most emcees don’t have their victory lap album or song until later in their career, but Drake had his simultaneously with his “I’m here” moment rapping: I know of all the things that I hear they be poking fun at/
Never the flow though, they know I run that/
F*** you all, I claim that whenever
I changed rap forever, the game back together” Drizzy addresses a number of topics in his three minute verse and hits them all head on. His sophomore album, Take Care produced several hits, but this song is the heart and soul.
Too Much: I remember watching The Tonight Show when Drake debuted this song and it was all the talk for days after. This song is so appealing because in the second verse, Drake opens up about his family and their struggles. When he hits the lines: “Hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment, tellin’ herself
That she’s too sick to get dressed up and go do s***, like that’s true s***” feels like he is the most vulnerable he has ever been. Pairing the raw emotion with an elite level of rapping and Sampha on the hook is pretty much the perfect song.
8am in Charlotte: Timestamp Drizzy is undefeated. All of the previous offerings are certified classics, but I think this one is the best lyrically. When I heard the “Conductor” producer tag in the beginning, I was stunned. Drake has always had high praise for Griselda so the collab on this was good to hear. I might be biased because he references Jordan Peele’s film US along with Silence of the Lambs and that hit my love for horror films. The Boy also goes on to mention Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain and TD Jakes in a song that feels like he his dropping tons of heavy baggage. This is the most in-depth timestamp song Drake has delivered.
Do Not Disturb: We never discuss awesome album “outros”, but this one is up there. It’s the icing on the cake of a rather long project. Drake reflects on his success from Views and other victories, while still taking time to fire a shot at Tory Lanez. More Life is a mixed bag with lots of different vibes, but on “Do Not Disturb” Drake is catching you up on his recent endeavors while still feeling empty until his next album, it’s beautiful.
Tuscan Leather: I wonder how much East coast Hip-Hop Drake listened to during this time. To rap over three different beats for six minutes with no hook is insane. Nothing was the Same was the album that Drake marked his territory as the top dog, and Tuscan Leather conveys that message perfectly. This was a more confident version of Drake and he knows it. With lines like: “Like ayy, B, I got your CD, you get an E for effort
I piece letters together and get to talkin’ reckless” or the most used one “Bench players talkin’ like starters, I hate it” and even predicting his future at the end of the second verse when he spits “I’m tired of hearin’ ’bout who you checkin’ for now
Just give it time, we’ll see who’s still around a decade from now” might be the most accurate thing he has ever written.
Honorable mention: Middle of the Ocean, No Tellin’, Miss Me, 5 AM in Toronto, Weston Road Flows, Nonstop, Light Up, Emotionless