Drake’s seven solo albums ranked: from ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ to ‘Thank Me Later’

The Canadian artist is renowned for lyrical introspection and eclecticism

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Drake has once again set social media on fire with the release of Honestly, Nevermind.

The Canadian rapper's seventh effort is a test of faith for devoted fans due to its drastic sonic overhaul.

Gone are the tried and tested trap hip-hop beats, replaced with fresh and vibrant dance rhythms provided by international producers, such as South Africa's Black Coffee and Guatemalan-American Carnage.

Fan reaction to Honestly, Nevermind has been divisive, but maybe that's the point.

In the hip-hop world, Drake has little in the way of commercial competitors; his new album sees him branching out in an effort to breathe life into a career that has become creatively stale.

While the end result is muddled, it marks an intriguing addition to his blockbuster catalogue of albums.

Let's take a look where Honestly, Nevermind ranks in his chartbusting body of work.

7. ‘Scorpion’ (2018)

This is when Drake really jumped the shark.

Prior to the release of his fifth studio album, the rapper had gradually moved away from tightly focused albums towards longer and unwieldy releases in a bid to capitalise on streaming platforms (the more songs you have, the more chances for revenue).

Scorpion represents both the zenith of that approach and an artistic nadir. Drake may call it a double album, but there is no thematic strains holding the 90 minutes together.

What we have instead are 25 tracks of largely monotonous musings on spurned love and regrets. Not even Don't Matter to Me, featuring a Michael Jackson sample, could save the album from its stupor. Its only saving grace is the smash hit single God's Plan.

It still resonated thanks to its summery production and how truly engaged Drake felt with the work. Too bad the rest of Scorpion sounds as dull as Drake’s eyes on the album cover.

6. ‘Certified Lover Boy’ (2021)

Drake’s sixth album once again finds him on the wrong side of the quality versus quantity equation.

While the 21-track collection is an improvement on Scorpion, it is a gruelling, instead of exciting, appearance.

To be fair, Drake does try to offer some variety by having more than a dozen artists guest feature, including a dependably solid verse by Jay-Z on Love All.

However, Drake seems to be rapping from the same song book as he details played-out subjects such as his prowess in and out of the studio and detailing how people have "done him wrong".

What saves the monotony is some great production, such as the electro-soul of Fountains and the gritty swagger of the aforementioned Love All.

Certified Lover Boy may have broken the Spotify and Apple Music records for the most streamed album in a day, but its staying power may ultimately prove to not be as successful.

5. ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ (2022)

Released with only 90 minutes’ notice, the album is a refreshing and radically new direction for Drake.

At 14 tracks, it is one of his leanest efforts to date and is characterised by a newfound urgency to explore dance rhythms such as Chicago house and techno music.

The latter style is reflected in the pulsating Sticky, with Drake's forceful raps riding over ferocious kick drums and ghostly synths.

The exceptional Texts Go Green is one of three tracks co-produced by Black Coffee.

The South African's signature four on the floor rhythms, piano lines and percussion provides a brilliantly soulful backdrop for Drake to ruminate on.

Massive, with its heaving beats and choppy vocal samples, fully embraces Chicago house and is ripe for numerous remixes.

While the risk-taking is pleasing, that diversity is not matched by Drake’s vocal delivery.

There are many times where he sounds bereft of the bold melodic ideas the dazzling production demands.

That said, Honestly, Nevermind is a welcome reminder that Drake still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

4. ‘Views’ (2016)

True to its cover, which has Drake sitting at the peak of the 553-metre-high CN Tower in Toronto, Views found him on top of the world when it came to his commercial and creative appeal.

Drake showcased his mastery at blending styles with the winning R&B of Hotline Bling and the soul sounds of the impassioned Weston Road Flowers with Mary J Blige.

Then there is the infectious groove of One Dance, an Afro-pop banger that helped introduce the exciting genre to the masses.

While overwrought at moments, Views is the last solo album where Drake really experimented and had fun along the way.

3. ‘Thank Me Later’ (2010)

Not only did Drake's debut album have to fulfil the promise made after the impressive 2009 EP So Far Gone, he also had to convince the public there was more to him than starring in the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Thank Me Later solves both conundrums in what is an assured and stylish album.

Where Drake's lyrical obsession with internal aspects of his character may seem tiresome six albums on, one has to remember this was revelatory in 2010.

With the genre still in the hands of gangsta rappers such as 50 Cent, Drake’s musings on vulnerability and self-doubt, such as in Miss Me and The Resistance, were a breath of fresh air.

That said, this is hip-hop we are talking about and Drake also showed he can swagger with the best of them in Fancy and the pugnacious Up All Night.

A compelling mix of heart and brawn, Thank Me Later is a great introduction to an aspiring star.

2. ‘Nothing Was the Same’ (2013)

The fact fans are still divided on whether this album or the preceding Take Care is Drake's best just shows that he was at the peak of his creative powers at the time.

By this stage Drake, with the aid of long-time Lebanese-Canadian producer Noah "40" Shebib, were close to perfecting their claustrophobic sound primarily made of foreboding loops and dark ambient synths.

The evocative backdrops serve Drake well as he lays down memorable verses about reconnecting with his formerly estranged father and the existential brooding of 305 to My City.

The album is home to a trio of hits including the modern hip-hop classic Started from the Bottom, the ebullient Hold On, We're Going Home, which found success on mainstream radio, and the summery All Me, featuring a brilliant verse from 2 Chainz.

Indeed, nothing was the same for Drake’s career from this point on.

1. ‘Take Care’ (2011)

In Drake's career, happiness doesn't breed success. Instead, it is when he's at his most mournful and sullen that he has produced his best work.

Originally planned as a straight R&B album, Take Care retains the genre's nocturnal and introspective vibe with some emotionally searing wordplay.

This quality is further enhanced by some wonderful collaborations such as the hazy Crew Love, featuring then largely unknown singer The Weeknd, and the title track Take Care, a scintillating mix of experimental pop and dance featuring Jamie xx from English indie band The xx and Rihanna.

That mix of adventurism and Drake's dexterous vocal and lyrical style makes Take Care his grandest artistic statement to date.

Updated: June 18, 2022, 7:54 AM
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