Ranking Drake’s Albums From Worst To Best

Now that “More Life” hype has died down, let’s see how it stacks up to the rest of Drake’s albums.

BYPatrick Lyons
Ranking Drake’s Albums From Worst To Best

Drake might just be the most divisive pop artist of our lifetimes. He certainly inspires more conversation on this site with each new release than any other artist ever has, with debates (especially around last year's Views) raging on with nearly every conceivable opinion represented-- yes, some people even ride for "Pop Style." But even beyond interpersonal disagreements, Drake often inspires conflicted feelings in individual listeners. Just the other day someone told me, "I hate Drake," and then seconds later said, "'Passionfruit' is a perfect song." 

Credit Drake's omnivorous appetite for genres, vibes, and even dialects, as well as his palpable self-consciousness, for throwing us all for a loop even as he's topping charts. There's something for everyone in his discography, but more likely than not, there's also at least a few tracks in there that you simply can't stand. 

With More Life, possibly his most eclectic album yet, just starting to cool down, we're looking back at all of Drizzy's albums and giving them the 2017 evaluation. All for-sale projects have been factored in, which leaves Room For Improvement and Comeback Season out of the mix, but includes basically everything he's released since. And while I'm the only one writing these blurbs justifying the placement of each album, the whole editorial board weighed in on the rankings. Needless to say, Drake's discography brought up some disagreements, but as mentioned before, that's par for the course with Drizzy. Prepare to get pissed off about this order, and after you've yelled into your pillow for a few minutes, sound off in the comments.

Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images 

Thank Me Later

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

Drake's debut album is a quintessential example of an indie sensation making the awkward transition to major label star. Growing pains abound, heightened by the fact that So Far Gone broke the mold of what rappers were allowed to sing like, and what singers were allowed to rap like. Universal Motown simply didn't know what to do with Drake's moody-but-pop-aspiring sound, and so they attempted to slot him into the pop rap category. 

Luckily, Drake was already enough of a sensation to hold some artistic control over the album, most noticeable in the very, very long verses that many songs contain, but he didn't yet have the artistic vision to hold much control over music that was out of his and 40's well-defined comfort zone. He's already complaining about fame, but he doesn't yet sound like a star, and hasn't yet smoothed out all of the awkwardness in the transitions from hard verses to emotive singing. 

My final and pettiest gripe with Thank Me Later is that Drake put a lackluster version of "Shut It Down" on the album. A previously leaked version featured The-Dream taking full control of the second half of the song and blowing Drizzy out of the water, but in perhaps the first display of Drake's now well-documented egotism, he cut that part short and added another subpar verse. But maybe that's just me...

What A Time To Be Alive

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

The only collab album on this list, WATTBA pales in comparison to every Drake album other than his first because, simply put, it's the worst overall performance of his career. He's out of place on about half of the album, and his desire to ride Future's hotter-than-shit 2015 coattails wasn't hidden at all.

That said, there are definitely some fucking bangers on here. When Drake and Future occupy the same headspace, as they do "Jumpman," "Diamonds Dancing," and "Scholarships," there's no stopping them at the peaks of their respective careers. A rash of experimental Metro Boomin beats that presaged Savage Mode and DropTopWop certainly didn't hurt either, making the album feel like a victory lap for three of the most important hip hop artists of our time. WATTBA may have been rushed, may pale in comparison to most other Drake and Future projects, and may reek of opportunism on Drizzy's part, but it's a much more enjoyable listening experience than Thank Me Later


Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

Views is almost certainly the most-hated album Drake's ever released, and it's definitely his lamest. Dancehall-lite beats, cringeworthy punchlines, and an intro track that sounds like Sinatra at his past-prime, Vegas-residency period all but erased Drake's reputation as our generation's chief arbiter of cool. That being said though, a good portion of the overlong album is still a blast, and I fully believe that if Views were released at any other time during Drake's career-- that is, when he wasn't at his peak with everything to prove-- it wouldn't have been as trashed upon its release. 

As I put it in my initial review:

"He was furtively looking over his shoulder on IYRTITL, defending his spot, and he's still got choice words for his rivals on VIEWS, but it's more in that post-Blueprint Jay Z way, snickering at the thought of anyone even coming close to toppling him."

A year-plus later, the thought that a somewhat lackluster album would be a career-ender for Drake is certainly laughable. From a commercial standpoint, Views was wildly successful, and although he may not be a trendsetter anymore, Drake's reign over our collective attention hasn't seemed to slip at all. 

Knock your six-to-eight least favorite tracks off of Views, rearrange things into a more workable tracklist, and I can almost guarantee that you won't hate it as much as you think you do. 

More Life

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

Despite being called a "playlist" rather than an album, More Life flows better than Views and takes more risks. Drake's best projects are usually his most cohesive, but when we're talking about these later-career mega-releases of 20 or more tracks, variation becomes the most valuable asset. More Life has its clunky moments, but unlike Views's lengthy tracks, everything on here is relatively short, so they register as blips more than drawn-out sighs of exasperation. 

Drake seems to have a toxic mindset these days that extends beyond him being "an angry yute while I was writing Views," so the best remedy for that was a project of distractions. Most songs on here are too short and too unrelated for Drake to construct a cohesive narrative or even an overarching mood. That would be a knock against most albums, but when the creator's his own worst enemy, it actually works out in More Life's favor.

More Life is too long and too all-over-the-place to be a classic by any stretch of the imagination. But it contains some truly great music, and more so than most recent Drake releases, it's a blast to listen to. Drake continues to do things that no previous rapper has ever thought to attempt, and that, more than any single dominant project, will be his legacy. 

If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

On par with So Far GoneIYRTITL is a huge stylistic shift for Drake. It's the moment when the fame-triggered boredom and depression he'd rapped about for five years turned into anger and mistrust, and the album's icy soundscapes did a fantastic job matching his mindset. The stardom, which admittedly always came at a price, now cut Drake's every word with a weary pang somewhere between exasperation and overconfidence -- any traces of earnestness and wonder are gone; he's seen it all.

The full album's so in his wheelhouse that it sounds like Drake asked his production team to spend some time listening to "Drake-type beats" on YouTube and then churn out more nuanced, well-polished versions. He's never sounded less awkward on the mic, which perhaps may be due to ghostwriters, but we're grading final products here, not Drake's legacy as an MC. 

Presented as a low-stakes release, IYRTITL solidified Drake's stranglehold on rap and was inescapable for months after its release. It marked the moment when Drake's less official albums became more interesting than his big-deal ones, at least from where we're standing in this post-Views world. IYRTITL is basically a mixtape, but in its flawless execution and smooth adherence to a strict sound, it was almost as important to Drizzy's career as So Far Gone

Take Care

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

There's a reason for all of that gold shit on the cover. Take Care is the most expensive-sounding Drake album ever, from Stevie Wonder's harmonica solo on "Doing It Wrong" to Just Blaze's 24 karat chipmunk soul beat on "Lord Knows." Whereas Thank Me Later unsuccessfully tried to graft Drake's moody mixtape steez onto a major label album, this one did away with all half-measures and just fucking went for it.

In a way, Take Care is the proto-Views, what with its attempt at cramming everything, all styles, all moods, into one relentlessly long album, but there's probably very few Drake fans that would argue that it wasn't better executed the first time around. Drake's finally able to describe his fame laments in interesting, thoughtful ways, and his rapping and singing are both improved by leaps and bounds over all of his previous material. 

Drake had plenty of good songs before this album dropped, but Take Care zoomed out from his insular world of 40 production and 808s & Heartbreak worship into something massive. Still the best-selling album of his career, Take Care is the bedrock for everything Drake's been able to achieve since. 

So Far Gone

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

Okay, we're cheating here, using the mixtape instead of the subsequent commercially-released EP, but at the time, So Far Gone felt like one of the biggest albums of 2009. It took the the formula Kanye established on 808s & Heartbreaks and perfected it, giving not only Drake, but also 40 the basis for their careers and a foothold into the world of major label rap. The tape was the product of a culturally-specific moment-- at no other time in rap history could a Canadian former teen acting star sing about his feelings while trying to rap like Lil Wayne and become an international sensation-- and more than possibly any other album since, it ushered in a new era for the genre, one that's still going through growing pains as Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty face critiques of their masculinity at every turn. 

There are some corny, dated samples on here, namely of songs by Peter, Bjorn & John, Santigold, and Billy Joel, but as this was released at the peak of the post-Graduation, indie rock swag-jacking, mashup phase, it's par for the 2009 course. Drake did an incredibly brave thing by making So Far Gone his first wide-release statement, and the bulk of it still holds up eight years on.


Nothing Was The Same

Ranking Drake's Albums From Worst To Best

I really, truly don't know if Drake will ever be able to top this. NWTS is the most cohesive, sonically pleasing album of Drake's career, as well as his most relatable and well thought-out. At the time of its release, and even after the more minor release of IYRTITL, I thought that nothing could stop Drake, that he'd keep developing that distinctive, infectious sound until he reached absolute perfection, but somewhere along the way, whether during his childish beef with Meek Mill, attempts at dancehall, or during "Hotline Bling"'s radio reign, he changed his tune.

For the peerless NWTS, Drake took his first year off since 2008 and spent a fuckton of time in the studio with his core OVO crew. Ever the restless artist, he actually had the following to say about the album just after its release: "I think for the first time in an album I'm content—not satisfied—but proud of where I'm at as a person." That sentiment is audible-- not because NWTS is necessarily a happy album, but because Drake actually sounds like he's speaking from the heart, an ability that his various disingenuous facades have cancelled out at most other points in his career. 

The album's a crystallization of everything he's ever perfected, from the overarching moodiness, to the rappity-rap diary entries ("Tuscan Leather"), to the bangers ("Worst Behaviour"), to the pop songs ("Hold On, We're Going Home"). It's a full-bodied experience, but one that doesn't jerk you around between various personas Drake feels the need to inhabit. If he ever tops this, I'll eat my words. 

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About The Author
<b>Feature Writer</b> Ever since he borrowed a copy of "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" from his local library, Patrick's love affair with hip-hop has been on an extended honeymoon phase. He now contributes features to HNHH, hoping to share his knowledge and passion with this site's broad audience. <strong>Favorite Hip Hop Artists:</strong> André 3000, Danny Brown, Kanye, Weezy, Gucci Mane, Action Bronson, MF DOOM, Ghostface Killah <strong>Favorite Producers:</strong> Lex Luger, Kanye (again), RZA, Young Chop, Madlib, J Dilla, Hudson Mohawke