All of Drake’s six solo albums ranked: from ‘Certified Lover Boy’ to ‘Thank Me Later’

The Canadian artist is renowned for lyrical introspection and eclecticism

Another Drake album release means another streaming record broken.

The Canadian rapper's latest album, Certified Lover Boy, has surpassed its predecessor Scorpion in achieving the most streaming numbers on Spotify in a single day.

While Drake seemingly only has himself to beat at this point when it comes to commercial appeal, does he still have anything worthwhile to offer creatively more than a decade into his career?

Let's take a look back at all of his six solo albums and see where Certified Lover Boy ranks in his chartbusting body of work.

6. ‘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 to longer and unwieldy releases 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 hit 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.

5. ‘Certified Lover Boy’ (2021)

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

While the 21-track collection is an improvement on Scorpion, it remains a more gruelling than exciting appearance.

To be fair, Drake does try to offer some variety by having 10 artists guest feature on the verses, 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.

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 RnB 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 wicked 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 isn't what formulates success. Instead, it is when he's sounding at his most mournful and sullen that he has produced his best work.

Originally planned as a straight RnB 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 Smith 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: September 6th 2021, 12:14 PM
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