With the April release of the excellently-cast video for “Nice For What”, Drake announced his upcoming album Scorpion. Set to release on June 28, 2018, Scorpion follows his two-track EP Scary Hours featuring “Diplomatic Immunity” and “God’s Plan” that he released in January of this year.
Much like the verses he dropped in 2013 on Migos’ “Versace” or in 2014 on iLoveMakonnen’s “Tuesday” as an impending album nears, Drake and company dropped a remix to Lil Baby’s “Yes Indeed” on his Beats 1 OVO Sound Radio show. This has been a part of Drake and OVO’s ethos since day one when he rapped over Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” or Peter Bjorn and John’s “Let’s Call It Off”, both of which made it on to 2009’s So Far Gone, while the “Dreams Money Could By”, a Jai Paul flip from Noah “40” Shebib, would be posed as a teaser for sophomore album Take Care but wouldn’t make any final album cut.
These remixes (or even collabs like BlocBoy JB and Drake’s “Look Alive”) always showed Drake’s taste, even with older ones being unofficial releases. He tends to adopt the flow or style of the artist whose song he’s jumping on, almost allowing his verse to offer the song new life or a signal boost. We’ve seen it on his verses in 2013 on Soulja Boy’s “We Made It”, in 2015 with Skepta and Wizkid on the “Ojuelegba Remix”, on Ramriddlz’s “Sweeterman”, the remix to Fetty Wap’s “My Way”, and in 2017 with OVO Brian on their take of Tinashe’s “2 On” remix.
Much like these remixes with virtual unknowns or less-established artists in between projects, Drake historically drops a few loosies of his own that don’t make the album cut as release dates near. In some cases, they’ve made it on to deluxe or special editions of albums rather than the original, like “Fear”, which which would end up on a re-release of So Far Gone, or even like “Hotline Bling”, which released in July 2015 – nine months before Views dropped, but did end up on the project through several name changes.
Whereas the remixes don’t always have some sort of clearly visible tie to where Drake is now, the following loosies very definitively fit into the timeline of Drake’s discography – despite not finding a home on an official project. Here’s a round up of the best we ever had from Drake in between projects:
Tied to a DJ Khaled collaboration, kind of, “Trust Issues” dropped in June 2011 just a few weeks following the release “I’m On One” with Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne on Khaled’s We the Best Forever. “Trust Issues” reuses his hook from “I’m On One” as his opening verse but has a significantly moodier vibe than the crew party anthems of the Drake and Khaled collab era. This also came a few months after Drizzy shared he was working with The Weeknd in March of 2011, and you can definitely make ties between “Trust Issues” and The Weeknd’s music of that time.
“Trust Issues” was never going to be on Take Care. Drake initially shared it on his blog, October’s Very Own, “just a fun thing I did while writing ‘On One’.”
“Dreams Money Can Buy”
Also from before Take Care, Drake’s take on Jai Paul’s “BTSTU” was shared on his blog in March 2011. Although he pointed out that the single was not his, Drake posted it saying it was something he felt like he needed to share and that, “this is a story of dreams mixed with reality.”
“Dreams Money Can Buy” really does touch on a wide range of topics Drake sings and raps about – home, goals, success, women, fly cars, foreign shit, friends, other rappers, top 5 (top 5, top 5). The internet jumped to conclusions thinking Drake was taking a shot at JAY-Z when he said, “I feel like lately it went from top five to remaining five/ My favorite rappers either lost it or they ain’t alive”. Drake was quick to disprove this, tweeting his love for Hov, but Pusha T would retaliate after taking it personally, freestyling over the “BTSTU” beat as well.
Looking back on “Dreams Money Can Buy” and the progress Drake’s made in seven years makes the track and blog post it was released in feel prophetic. You’ve got to wonder if he knew what he had in his hands with Take Care.
“Girls Love Beyonce”
In April 2013, just hours after DJ Khaled dropped “No New Friends” featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and Drizzy holding down the hook, Drake would go ahead and drop “Girls Love Beyonce” with singer-songwriter James Fauntleroy. Taking from the hook of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”, Drake is talking about searching for love with his increased fame, even referencing “No New Friends” in the first verse and another Destiny’s Child hit in the same line.
“Feel like my love life is finished
I’ve been avoiding commitment
That’s why I’m in this position
I’m scared to let somebody in on this
No new friends, no no no.”
This topic is ingrained into Drake’s musical DNA. From a place of wanting love or looking for someone to make him think of something besides himself, but ultimately being in what he considers a rock and a hard place with desire to be successful and his trust issues.
“5 AM in Toronto”
The second of four time-stamped and geographically-placed songs Drake released in the last eight years, “5 AM in Toronto” is arguably the strongest – to absolutely no one’s surprise as it’s about his hometown. It’s also the only one of the four to have official visuals release despite being released in 2013, three years after the first, “9 AM in Dallas”.
This track is pure flex, which is why it’s most appropriate he did it from home. Although it’s the longest break between the four songs over a eight year period and coming before NWTS during a significant break between projects, Drake smoothly states, “Give these n*ggas the look, the verse, and even the hook/That’s why every song sound like Drake featurin’ Drake,” and he wasn’t wrong.
“6 PM in New York” would come next in 2015, and “4 PM in Calabasas” followed in 2016 releasing on OVO Sound Radio, but as it stands now, just weeks before the supposed release of Scorpion, we have to wonder if it’s time to add to this series of time and city specific songs. It would be hard to believe if he never drops one for Londontown with how present UK artists have been in his work since IYRTITL, but it seems we’ll just wait and see what the boy brings before the album.
Drake has always loved a good late night, unexpected announcement or release, and on the morning of June 22, 2013, the world would be blessed with all of the above and more. In addition to announcing the 41-date “Would You Like a Tour?” tour with Future and Miguel, we find out the release date for Nothing Was the Same, and had four new songs to listen to – “The Motion” featuring Sampha, “Jodeci Freestyle” featuring J. Cole, the “Versace” remix, and the remix to PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Over Here”.
Although “The Motion” wouldn’t make the upcoming NTWS, it would be the first time we’d see Drake and Sampha work together. Months after the release, the pair would premiere their collaboration “Too Much” which would make the album. Despite Drake never having credits on a Sampha project, the two would continue to work together on Drake’s output after “The Motion” with an entire solo Sampha song featured on Drake’s project/playlist More Life called “4422”.
“The Motion” would eventually be removed from Drake’s SoundCloud after being added to a Best Buy exclusive special edition release, but it is not listed on the album on any streaming services.
“Days in the East”
Quite literally the most subtle, unrelatable flex lives on “Days in the East” when Drake says he was at Erykah Badu’s house, she made him tea, and they talked about love. That alone puts this song firmly in the top loosies from heartbreak-Drake.
Released on April 3, 2014, the day after he dropped “Draft Day” (another off-album track), “Days in the East” came after Nothing Was the Same dropped but also a few months before Drake would announce ‘Views From the 6’ which wouldn’t end up releasing until two years and two mixtapes later when it finally came out as Views in 2016.
“Days in the East” was widely believed to be about Rihanna. He even samples her song “Stay” at the 2:55 minute mark. Before the song dropped, Aubrey and Rihanna were on and off, but she was spending some time with him during tour, and the song definitely references a woman that has her own thing going for herself. Furthermore, lines like “Before you said ‘you’re mine’, I was yours already…” is definitively how Drake and Rihanna’s relationship would progress over the years in between, from presenting her with her MTV Vanguard Award in 2016 and her dodging his kiss to her most recent declaration that they are not friends in her Vogue interview which resulted in him unfollowing her on Instagram.
“How Bout Now”
Dropped as part of a trio of songs including “Heat of the Moment” and “6 God” in October 2014, “How Bout Now” is the ultimate I-miss-you-but-goddamn-but-you-still-ain’t-shit song. In it, Drake runs through the lengths he feels he went for a woman that didn’t appreciate it, but like the tortured, vulnerable man he is, with his new found success he still wants that old thing back.
Similar to “Marvin’s Room”, he utilizes the cliché girl on the voicemail for the opening, but this salty woman on the message from “How Bout Now” utilizes a mix of Jamaican patois and Toronto slang to communicate Drake has been big timing her, saying “That’s the shit I’m talking ’bout though, like you changed up, you don’t even fuckin’ link nobody no more, you just dash me away like a cyattie. Yo, you cheesed me dog.”
“How Bout Now” came about 6 months before the February 2015 surprise mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, where he also used Jamaican patois on the intro of “Know Yourself” and “Energy”. Although it wasn’t’ the first time, we’d see it continue to directly influence his music through both Views and More Life.
During Meek Mill’s press run for his 2015 album Dreams Money Can Buy, he took a shot at Drake saying that not only did Drizzy not write his own raps, he used ghostwriters. This was on July 22, 2015, and by July 30, Drake released diss track “Charged Up” and would immediately follow up another aptly named “Back to Back”.
A significant difference between the way Drake and Meek Mill handled the summer-long beef that ensued is Drake has always managed his business in what appears to be a far more calculated approach (“n*ggas is snitchin’ on us without no interrogation”), ending up with three diss records and an entire meme production throughout at OVO Fest. Meek would eventually remove the one diss track he released on SoundCloud.
The tone of “Charged Up” is almost as though Drake taken aback that Meek would dream of coming at him, referencing Drake’s feature on Meek’s album as a favor, his own closeness with Meek’s then girlfriend Nikki Minaj, and saying that this attempt to tarnish Drake’s career could actually be one of Meek’s biggest moments.
Drake has only always been one to drag himself and come clean with his shortcomings through his lyrics, even utilizing this in his diss records claiming “you gettin’ bodied by a singin’ n*gga” on “Back to Back” making it difficult to take shots at things he hasn’t already made a millennial-esque, self-loathing reference to.
Now, 25 of the best Drake songs of all time.
- Words: Rae Witte