Drake's Albums and Mixtapes Ranked from Worst to Best
With 'For All the Dogs' dropping this week, we're revisiting the highs and lows of his large discography
Published Oct 02, 2023Drake is undeniably the most commercially successful hip-hop artist of all time. In the 17 years that he's been releasing music, his accomplishments include surpassing the Beatles for most Top 5 hits in Billboard Hot 100 history, breaking the record for most No. 1 singles on the Hot 100, and breaking the record for most Top 10 hits on the Hot 100.
For All the Dogs marks Drake's 18th full-length project, and odds are he does not plan to slow down. It's as good of a time as ever to finally have the debate: what are Drake's best and worst projects?
This was a much harder list to put together than casual fans might think. A part of Drake's appeal is his versatility; there's the moody, melodic Drake, the trap-inspired work of his summer sixteen, or the times he's acted as a UK rap curator.
Whatever the case, we acknowledge there is a version of Drake for everyone. For this list, we considered the cultural relevance of each project, commercial success, career impact, critic acclaim, overall appeal and personal taste.
17. Room for Improvement (2006)
Drake's debut mixtape is easily his worst project. Appropriately titled Room for Improvement, the seed of ideas that would eventually bloom to become Thank Me Later and Take Care can be vaguely seen on tracks like "Make Things Right," "Do What You Do" and "City Is Mine." However, besides the stand-out production from a young Boi-1da, many other tracks on this mixtape sound dated.
16. Dark Lane Demo Tape (2020)
Loosely thrown together, Dark Lane Demo Tape is a compilation of experimental records left on the cutting room floor of Drake's fifth studio album, Scorpion (which, spoiler alert, is the lowest-ranked studio album on this list). While the mixtape does have some gems, mainly; "When to Say When" and "Chicago Freestyle," the rest of the project falls flat, both in its production and delivery. This is the only project on the list that can truly be describe as disappointing.
15. Care Package (2019)
For casuals, Care Package was just another loosely thrown together compilation album — but, for long-time fans, it offered access to many previously inaccessible SoundCloud gems. Home to some truly incredible singles, the only thing keeping this project from being higher is that it is not a cohesive body of work. But shout out to Drake for finally making "4PM in Calabasas" readily available on Spotify and Apple Music.
14. Comeback Season (2007)
Likely many people's earliest introduction to Drake, Comeback Season's "Replacement Girl" (with Trey Songz) made Drake the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have a music video featured on BET. A massive deal for any artists at the time, this mixtape was Drake's first real taste of stardom outside of acting. However, still very much "Wheelchair Jimmy" from Degrassi, Drake proved he was taking his career shift into music seriously by improving everything he did on Room for Improvement. Once again, Boi-1da's production is the highlight, but the mixtape also has tighter flows, better ideas, clearer samples and stronger features courtesy of Trey Songz, Kardinal Offishall and Lil Wayne.
13. Scorpion (2018)
Scorpion marks a higher tier on this list. Although it is Drake's lowest-ranking studio album, it's not so much bad as it is bloated.Released in the middle of a heated beef with Pusha-T, Scorpion was also the follow-up to 2016's Views, which marked Drake's most commercially and culturally successful year (more on that later). With all the pressure of maintaining his commercial momentum, responding to an increasingly personal beef and the added anticipation of being a bonafide megastar, Scorpion fell short on almost all fronts. Perhaps doomed to fail in its attempt to please both hardcore hip-hop fans and his new pop audience, the album is an oversized double feature, filled with radio singles, hastily thrown together diss bars, life updates under duress and throwaway records like "I'm Upset" and "Ratchet Happy Birthday." Notably, under all this, at its core, Scorpion is a stripped-back personal record, giving fans an honest glimpse into Drake's thoughts and feelings. However, the earnestness is lost somewhere amidst the 25-song-long tracklist.
12. Certified Lover Boy (2021)
Also released in the middle of a heated rap beef, this time with onetime mentor Kanye West, Certified Lover Boy is consumed by animosity. A 90-minute, long-winded marathon, the record feels like it solely exists to tell fans he is unfazed by his perceived loss to Pusha-T after the "Story of Adonis" two years earlier, and that he is still effortlessly more successful than all his adversaries. Cocky and brazen over excellent soul samples and production, this record's biggest issue is how forgettable Drake sounds on it. Outshined by nearly every feature, it holds the smallest share of songs on the setlist of his It Was All a Blur Tour from any of his projects in the last five years, which speaks to how forgettable this album is within his discography.
11. Honestly, Nevermind (2022)
Honestly, Nevermind has aged well a year after its 2022 release. Although Drake is not a stranger to incorporating different genres into his music, this house album came out of the left field, but was welcome change of pace after the critically ill-received Scorpion and Certified Lover Boy. Not a perfect album by any means, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea, it was encouraging for fans to see Drake try something new after a couple of lesser projects. Not to mention, Drake sounds right at home under the album's breezy house beats and bouncy dance tracks.
10. Heartbreak Drake Part 2 (R&Drizzy Edition) (2009)
Lesser known to even the keenest Drake fan, Heartbreak Drake Part 2 (R&Drizzy Edition) stands tall beside So Far Gone and Thank Me Later among the highlights of Drake's early work. The official prequel to his highly anticipated debut album, Thank Me Later, this might be Drake's most carefree project. Fresh off of signing with Young Money Records, Lil Wayne's influence is all over the album, as Drake delivers witty bars and oozes charism all over original some of 2008's most popular beats in the same fashion as Lil Wayne's Da Drought series. Unfortunately, due to the difficult of clearing the many samples, we will likely never see an official streaming release of this mixtape. However, it is still available on SoundCloud and YouTube if you have never heard it. It's worth a listen.
9. Her Loss (2022)
Drake's best album of the decade so far, this 21 Savage collaboration is a back-to-basics rap album filled with colourful (although sometimes misogynistic) punchlines and introspective thoughts on failed relationships. Sounding both loose and jovial, Her Loss is home to some of Drake's funniest lyrics, with 21 Savage managing to keep the record from becoming self-indulgent. The album is perfectly lighthearted — a rare feat for Drake when discussing relationships, but a welcome change of pace following several emotionally intense records. If it is a sign of what is to come on For All the Dogs, the rest of the decade looks bright.
8. What a Time to Be Alive (2015)
The summer of 2016 will likely go down as Drake's most dominant year, both commercially and culturally. After announcing Views in 2014, a year later the hype for the album grew as his beef with Meek Mill dominated tabloids. Capitalizing on the fanfare, dropped a pair of mixtapes in 2015, including this collaboration with the equally red hot Future. What a Time to Be Alive marked two bonafide superpowers collaborating at their respective peaks. To nobody's surprise the project also debuted at No. 1 and is certified hood classic, with less commercial Drake fans hailing it as some of his best work.
7. Thank Me Later (2010)
For the longest time, the argument against Drake was that he didn't have a "classic album." Thank Me Later is often forgotten in discussions about excellent hip-hop albums from the early 2010s, but that doesn't change that this album has aged like fine wine. A classic in its own right, Drake dared to debut with records featuring an Avengers-level old guard of Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I. and Jeezy and was never outshone or out-rapped. Ballsy from the start, he declared himself the next big thing — and delivered.
6. Views (2016)
Already a chart-topper, Drake's popularity exploded as he reached another commercial peak. Although not critically hailed as his best work in deep hip-hop circles, your grandma's favourite Drake song is probably something off Views. Fusing Afrobeats, hip-hop and R&B, the numbers speak for itself, despite what hip-hop heads say, as "One Dance" remains Drake's most streamed song on Spotify with more than two billion plays. This is the album that took Drake from star to superstar to the biggest star in the industry.
5. So Far Gone (2009)
Before Drake, only 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Jeezy and Kid Cudi could claim they blew up off a mixtape. With songs like "Best I Ever Had" and "Successful" already charting, So Far Gone became the catalyst that launched Drake's career internationally. He even nabbed two Grammy nominations — a gigantic feat for a then-little-known rapper out of Canada. The success of the mixtape eventually led to one of the biggest major label bidding wars in music history, with Universal's Young Money Entertainment coming out on top. The rest is pretty much history.
4. More Life (2017)
Stormzy, Dave, Gigs, J Huss, Burna Boy, Central Cee and Jorja Smith should at least partially credit their North American success to More Life. Many Canadian and American hip-hop fans gateway into Afrobeats and UK rap, this project's influence alone is enough to propel it to our fourth spot. On top of that, Drake's current sound mainly stems from ideas first explored on More Life, from the house fusion of "Passionfruit" and "Madiba Riddim" (which eventually birthed Honestly, Nevermind) to the sample-heavy intro of "Free Smoke" (repeated on Certified Lover Boy's "Champagne Poetry") to the lyrically heavy, food-for-thought outro "Do Not Disturb" (which has led to introspective outros becoming a staple of all modern Drake projects), you can find repeated ideas from More Life in just about every Drake project since.
3. Nothing Was the Same (2013)
Nothing Was the Same is an incredible album, the follow-up to the highly successful Take Care. Its success silenced many critics in deep hip-hop circles, proving Drake was not just a flash in the pan. Home to some of Drake's best beat choices, it is impossible not to grind your teeth and nod your head while listening to "Tuscan Leather," "Wu-Tang Forever," "Worst Behavior," or "Pound Cake / Paris Motion Music 2."
2. If You're Reading This It's Too Late (2015)
The summer of 2016 will go down as Drake's most dominant commercial and cultural year. And while the commercial success of Views plays a role in that, the momentum behind Drake's explosive summer sixteen began with this 2015 mixtape. For many "pure" hip-hop fans, it was the Drake album they dreamed of: minimal singing, minimal R&B features, and no obvious radio singles; just the boy, a microphone, and something to prove. The results culminated to not only Drake's best rap album to date, but also the only mixtape ever to be nominated for a Grammy. If you know someone still arguing that Drake doesn't have a "classic" album, point them toward If You're Reading This It's Too Late. Almost 10 years later, tracks like "Energy," "Legend" and "Know Yourself" remain crowd-pleasers at any Drake show.
1. Take Care (2011)
Initially intended to be a straight-up R&B album, Take Care evolved into the sombre, moody, dark mix of hip-hop, R&B, dance and pop, which Drake remains known for to this day. Although it is hard to imagine now, when the album was released in 2011, there was nothing like it. Embracing all the criticisms of Thank Me Later — that Drake is too soft, too introspective, too whiny, too melodramatic, too depressed, croons too much — he confidently never tried to be a tough guy. Raising the bar in every way, he dropped his braggadocious persona and the world finally met Aubrey. Still confident, cocky and masculine, yet also vulnerable and relatable, it was impossible to hate. To this day, Drake has not quite replicated the authentic feel of Take Care; too large of a star to ever come across this relatable again, the album exists in a Goldilocks zone of brash and meek. It's unequivocally his best project.