The Drake Cheat Sheet: 10 Songs That Prove Why He’s Canada’s National Treasure

Drake - Vevo
Drake – Vevo

In the past few years, my obsession with Drake has transformed into more of a lifestyle than a simple musical penchant. My best days begin with my alarm waking me up to some of Drake’s softest rhymes, and it’s these same gentle croonings that lull me to sleep each night.

In light of all of the recent news concerning my close & personal friend Aubrey Graham, I could tell that the Internet was waiting to hear my take on the matter. With regards to the actual beef between Drake and Meek Mill, my honest opinion is that I could care less. My interest in it stretches only as far as the new music it’s prompted Drake to produce, because I’m always trying to hear that light skin gawd speak on some new shit.

Amid accusations of inauthenticity and the constant jeering of the perpetual Drake-haters, I feel that someone needs to step up and put on for Canada’s national treasure, and remind those naysayers why Drizzy is so loved in the first place. And being that I am benevolent like those Burger King employees that slip an extra onion ring into an order of value fries (the real MVPs), I’ve decided to compile something of a “Drake Cheat Sheet”. It’s essentially a list of Drake superlatives, and if you are one of the (pathetic) (hating ass) few that do not appreciate his music, this short guide will hopefully help you understand what all the hype is about, and more importantly, why it’s all warranted. Without further ado:

1) Best Mixtape Song: “Uptown” (So Far Gone)

A smooth beat with a catchy hook and bars about his ascension to the top of the rap game is about as signature Drake as stealing your girlfriend and then crying about it. Plus, everyone knows the only way to sound smart when talking about an artist is to quote a line from their mixtape days, and luckily Uptown is full of quotable riffs about a young Drake’s burgeoning success. However, the best line of the song actually comes from his frequent collaborator and pint-sized BFF, Lil Wayne: “I own the swagga supermarket and you, you just a bag boy.” Canonical.

2) Best Bars: “Headlines” (Take Care)

He might be yelling out “Money over everything, money on my mind”, but “Headlines” functions as more of a vocalization of his appreciation for the friendship he shares with his boys, the infamous OVO crew of which he is a founding member. The beat is a simple one (so as to not draw attention away from the hot fire he is spitting), and every line reinforces the fact that he’s got his team’s back no matter what. What’s even better is that he manages to sum all of this up in one painfully simple, repeated affirmation: “They know.”

Runners up: “Miss Me” (Thank Me Later) & “HYFR” (TC) – DRAKE should stand for “Dope Rapper Applying Krazy Euphemisms” instead of “Do Right and Kill Everything”, because the latter is just a tad macabre. And if you can rap the whole of Drake’s verse in “HYFR” then you honestly might be deserving of your own record deal.

3) Best Featured Verse: “Tuesday” 

How do you explain the featured artist dropping a verse so hot that everyone originally thinks it’s his own song!? While he accidentally outshines his collaborator (does anybody actually know what a “Makonnen” is?), Drake clues us into how busy his life has been as of late: “Always working OT – over time and out of town.” He’s also considerate enough to include an uber positive, anti-drug message that is sure to resonate with the tweens. Known to fancy alcohol as his substance of choice (Instagram: champagnepapi), Drake makes it clear that although he doesn’t fuck with pills, he knows that you do, so he’s got ’em for you. It really is the little things :’)

4) Softest Song: “Find Your Love” (Thank Me Later)

Far and away the largest criticism of Drake’s music is that the subject matter is soft, concerning themes such as failed relationships and moral hangovers about mistreating women. “Find Your Love” feeds into that, and I classify it as soft not because he is singing, but because the actual content of the song sounds a little bit like a message you’d leave on your ex’s voicemail after a night out drinking Cosmopolitans and quoting The Vagina Monologues with your favorite girlies. Because you are a queen, and you don’t need no man. No matter what your psychic says.

5) Best Drake ft. Drake: “No Tellin’” (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late)

Regardless of whether IYRTITL was an album or a mixtape or a suicide note from Chik-Fil-A, one thing is certain: Drizzy hasn’t lost the ability to finesse his greatest musical asset of switching between singing and rapping. It’s a practice that he himself termed “Drake ft. Drake”, and although he doesn’t sing in “No Tellin’”, when the beat morphs at 2:52 it sounds like a different song entirely. If you’ll allow me one stupid pun: *ahem* There’s no tellin’ what’ll come out of his mouth next! (Hahahaha! ….lol? No? Hmm.)

Runner up: “Own It” (Nothing Was The Same) – Watch for the entire vibe to change at 2:18. And once again, he advises against reckless behavior by insisting that “the new drugs got the kids trippin’ these days.”

6) Most Underrated: “We’ll Be Fine” (TC) 

Oftentimes, great album songs get overlooked for catchier singles. “We’ll Be Fine” is a great example of that, and I think you’ll be hard pressed to find another song that makes being famous sound as stressful as this one. He touches on themes like competition in the rap game, excessive wealth, clingy women, and even his own mortality. At the same time, there’s an irony in his lyrics that even he sees: these are problems that he’s lucky to have. And at the end of the day, despite the conflicting thoughts that run through his mind, he is still able to step back and take stock of all his blessings: “Fam here/ Drinks here/ Girls here/ Well, fuck, let’s get it then.”

7) Best Interlude: “Madonna” (IYRTITL)

If there’s anything Drake loves more than the taste of his own tears, it’s a well-placed interlude. He makes it a point to include at least one on nearly every EP, but Madonna is certainly the best of them all. That being said, the track is a bigger tease than cheeseburger sliders; after one verse and some incoherent groaning, Drake lets his producer take it away but leaves us desperate to hear more of his words. Not to mention he’s basically suggesting to this random girl that sleeping with him could bring her endless fame. The best pick up line he uses? “You could be big as Madonna – just get in the car.” Jeez, Aubrey. Or: A little aggressive… but the man tells no lies. Just look at what happened to the real Madonna after their make out at Coachella. If you ask me, that was her REAL big break.

8) Best Singing: “Jungle” (IYRTITL)

Drizzy must have sensed that we all wanted to know what he was up to, because he starts off this slow jam letting us know he’s getting ready to vent in a big way. “These days…” he sighs, as he apologizes to his girl for not showing as much affection as he knows he should. With a beat and vocals that are smoother and more delicious than your mom’s home-made cookie butter, Drake really just wants to know one thing: “Are we still good?” Yes, Aubrey – we’ll be fine. (more puns!!!)

Runners up: “Connect” (NWTS) & “Houstatlantavegas” (SFG) – If the desperate plea “Don’t fall asleep on me, hang in there” doesn’t make your heart yearn for a love you’ve never had, then you might be a robot. Also… strippers.

9) Most Hype: “Worst Behavior” (NWTS)

………………….WORST (did I get it? I can never time it perfectly). First of all, let it be known that muh-fuckas NEVER loved us. I usually don’t condone violence in any capacity, but if this song doesn’t make you want to punch a baby then you should seriously consider a career as an anger management counselor. In “Worst Behavior”, Drake gives absolutely zero fucks – he’s done playing nice with people who have never shown him the love he deserves. What the song might lack in bars it makes up for in flow: the tone gradually gets more and more incensed until Drake finally explodes and poses a simple question to all his haters: “Who’s hot, who’s not?” Answer: Drake’s hot. REMEMBUH?

Runner up: “Trophies” – I’d argue that trumpets are the most hype instrument in the traditional symphony orchestra, and when that intro comes on there’s no mistaking what time it is: it’s time to use a walkie-talkie just to get a beverage (if you’ve got it like that).

10) Most Romantic: “Come Thru” (NWTS)

“We had the type of night where morning comes to soon/And nothing was the same.” Words that sweet could make even the most basic of booty calls sound like a Shakespearean love sonnet. “Come Thru” is the ultimate Netflix and chill anthem, but there’s something about the youthfulness of the beat that arouses fond memories of a first love. Additionally, Drake makes it clear that he’s not one of THOSE guys who expects anything from a girl. He leaves things intentionally vague by insisting that this girl should come through because they’ve got “thangs to do.” Smooth, Drizzy – I see you.

11) “Drakiest” Song: “Marvin’s Room” (TC)

Is there anything more Drake than a song about a drunk dial? Marvin’s Room is one long, painful, inebriated voice mail that Drake leaves for an ex after having too much Rosé (champagne papi indeed). Aside from slam dunking his deadly rapping/singing combo off of the alley oop set up by his producer Noah “40” Shebib, Marvin’s Room is really his magnum opus because he manages to package an entire drunk experience into one song. Because what does everyone do when they’re drunk? They repeat themselves, they talk about how drunk they are, and then when they finally can’t take it anymore, they rant and make excuses for their behavior. The only thing that could make it more authentic would be if he ended it with drunk eating cold pizza on his kitchen floor. (Oh – just me? Welp.) Instead, he caps off the Drakiest lyrics on the Drakiest subject matter in the most Drake way possible – with a booty call.

As with any artist who’s been in the game for a while, the breadth of Drake’s musical repertoire would make it impossible for a new fan to grasp his genius in one sitting. But with this cheat sheet, I guarantee that you’ll be able to sufficiently educate yourself and all of your friends and family on the musical stylings of Aubrey Drake Graham.

And even if these songs don’t resonate with you, you should remember that no matter when or where you find yourself reading this list – whether it be at 9AM in Dallas, 5AM in Toronto, or 6PM in New York – one fact will inevitably remain constant: he’s a mo-ther fu-cking legend. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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