The latest edition of XXL is very interesting, with Drake as their coverboy. In their interview and article, they have a lot of praise for the Toronto rapper. Ever since 2011, there has been a lot of “throne” talk coming from Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake himself, and recently, Kendrick Lamar.
If one thing was pointed out, it was there is no real leader in the rap community in this post-Weezy F. Baby generation. XXL pointed this out and how all of this could easily change once Drake releases Nothing Was The Same. No matter what Drake does, he is always slighted for various reasons and this hinders him from getting props.
Guys before Drake who took over the game, such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and even Rick Ross, had a strong category before them and several moderate hits. Drake, on the other hand, has a strong mixtape catalog and two major albums under his belt. With the third album coming, Drake can now claim “veteran” status.
As a semi-young veteran, Drake has enough hits under his belt and no clear opponent, so the throne really could be his. Having something that could be is nothing compared to something that really is, plus the topic will forever be up for debate. Drake receives so much slight, but he was one of the first rappers to drop an album in the form of a mixtape and few will debate how good So Far Gone was, as it was one of 2009’s best albums.
With all of this Drake is king talk, Hip Hop Vibe decided to take a look back at how far Drake has come, documenting him from his early mixtape releases all the way up to his album releases. Starting last year on Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin'” alongside French Montana, Drake brought it and he has not let up. Drake returns with Nothing Was The Same on September 17 in rare form and now the time has come to reflect on Drake’s career and some of his guest appearances.
See Drake’s history in the game below:
Room For Improvement hosted by DJ Smallz
People associate Drake’s debut with the 2009-2010 period, but 2005-2006 is a more accurate estimate. Back when he was best-known for his role on “Degrassi,” Drake chose to switch things up and become a rapper. Drake delivered Room For Improvement on February 14, 2006.
Fresh in the rap game, Drake teamed up with DJ Smallz for the mixtape and he was excited due to his work with Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne. But, Drake didn’t enter the game as a slouch. Room For Improvement featured Drake alongside both Trey Songz and Lupe Fiasco; also his friend, Nickelus F.
Even though it was a mixtape, Drake released it on retail and the tape featured the remix of Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push,” which was out before the song and Lupe were known. In the end, Drake sold 6,000 copies with Room For Improvement and his name became a staple. It was clearly only the beginning.
Less than a year after releasing Room For Improvement, Drake released Comeback Season, which began the no-DJ trend in hip hop. At this point, mixtapes morphed into street albums. Drake went all out on this project, matching his previous work with Pharrell with work with Kanye West, Nottz, and 9th Wonder.
At the time groundbreaking, Drake shot a video for the “Replacement Girl” single featuring Trey Songz. BET picked the song up and named it “New Joint of the Day” on the popular series, “106 & Park.” Drake soon found himself one of the hottest unsigned rappers in the game and the labels took notice.
Much noted was Drake’s lyrical depth increasing on Comeback Season and his collaboration with Lil Wayne on “Man of the Year.” Malice (No Malice), Nickelus F, Dwele, Rich Boy, Kardinal Offishall, and Little Brother also appeared on the tape. At this time, Drake began establishing himself as a potential threat in the game.
Watch “Replacement Girl” by Drake ft. Trey Songz below:
Arguably the biggest breakthrough mixtape in hip hop history, hip hop media truly embraced mixtapes after Drake dropped So Far Gone. Yes, mixtapes are as old as hip hop itself, but their presentation as mini-albums built in the 2005-2010 period and this tape was instrumental. So Far Gone put Drake in his current position.
Drake soon found more love from BET with “Best I Ever Had,” where he showcased his lyrical skills and his singing. Kanye West directed the music video and it also got love from MTV. Once he released the mixtape, Drake partied in Toronto with NBA superstar, LeBron James.
Not stopping with one single, Drake dropped “Best I Ever Had,” which became one of 2009’s biggest summer hits, and then he returned with “Successful.” The latter single continued his alliance with Trey Songz and confirmed his new one with Lil Wayne. By the time summer 2009 was over, Drake signed with Young Money.
Watch “Best I Ever Had” by Drake below:
Watch “Successful” by Drake ft. Trey Songz and Lil Wayne below:
During this period of time, Drake made his first major guest appearance, jumping on Mary J. Blige’s single, “The One,” showing he could rap alongside the R&B queens.
Watch “The One” by Mary J. Blige ft. Drake below:
Watch “Digital Girl” by Jamie Foxx ft. Drake, Kanye West, and The-Dream below:
So Far Gone EP
It was the release of So Far Gone that led to Universal Records doing everything in their power to land Drake. Playing up his friendship with Lil Wayne, they landed him via Cash Money/Young Money. A lot of people were tricked into believing the EP, So Far Gone, was actually Drake’s album, but it was a good teaser.
Drake had two mixtape singles in “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful” doing well on the radio, so they were packaged into the EP. So Far Gone, the EP, became a strong-selling project from Drake and it led to his current wave of success. The EP is still regarded as a notable project, as it includes the “Fear” track.
A new single was added to the EP to boost interest. In the fall of 2009, “I’m Goin In” featuring Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy was released. “I’m Goin In” also landed in the top 40, a place Drake would soon begin to call home on the charts. At this point, the stage was set for Drake to take the game over.
Watch Drake perform “I’m Goin In” at Axe Lounge below:
Drake was also included on the posse cut, “Forever,” with Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem, which was one of late 2009’s biggest hits. His presence on this track showed how Drake could always chip in with a dope guest verse or two. In this period of time, he also appeared on Birdman’s “Money to Blow” alongside Lil Wayne.
Watch “Forever” by Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem below:
Watch “Money to Blow” by Birdman ft. Drake and Lil Wayne below:
Watch “Fed Up” by DJ Khaled ft. Usher, Drake, Young Jeezy, and Rick Ross below:
Watch “Say Something” by Timbaland ft. Drake below:
Watch “I Invented Sex” by Trey Songz ft. Drake below:
All the mixtapes were practice, practice for the real thing, Thank Me Later, Drake’s debut album. After setting the game ablaze for four years on the mixtape scene, Drake bubbled into the mainstream. Bringing something different into the game, hip hop initially loved Drake.
The Young Money emcee held Young Money down while Lil Wayne was in prison in 2010. Early in 2010, Drake released his “Over” single and then dropped his summer hit, “Find Your Love.” Drake included collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, Bun B, and T.I. on his album.
Well-received and one of 2010’s best albums, Drake scored additional hits with “Miss Me” featuring Nicki Minaj and “Fancy” with T.I. It was clear Drake was a name who was going to be around for a while. Even with the veteran talk with Jay-Z on the album, he was not yet ready to take the game over.
Watch “Over” by Drake below:
Watch “Find Your Love” by Drake below:
Watch “Miss Me” by Drake ft. Lil Wayne below:
Watch Drake perform “Fancy” on New Year’s Eve 2011 below:
Drake did not stop after Thank Me Later came out, immediately he began working on his second album. Taking notes from the guys who came before him, such as Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, Drake shifted into the secondary role after Thank Me Later dropped. By making guest appearances on high-profile records, Drake kept himself in the spotlight, indirectly, so in the months between album releases, people were still singing Drake songs.
There were a few months into 2011, when Drake received radio play off both “Miss Me” and “Fancy.” Late in 2010, Young Money shifted their focus to Nicki Minaj and Drake gave her an assist on her “Moment 4 Life” song. It should come as no coincidence that the song became a major hit. The track came on the heels of big collaborations Drake had with Rick Ross, Rihanna, and Jamie Foxx. In the downtime, Drake was putting a concept together for his next album.
As the second half of 2011 entered, Drake announced Take Care and he continued making guest appearances. Drake helped Future get his career going, by appearing on the “Tony Montana” song and they worked through their issues to continue working together. He also jumped on Waka Flocka Flame’s “Round of Applause,” and many other songs. Then, Drake had the focus right where he wanted it to return with his next album.
Watch “Aston Martin Music” by Rick Ross ft. Drake and Chrisette Michele below:
Watch “Loving You No More” by Diddy/Dirty Money ft. Drake below:
Watch “What’s My Name” by Rihanna ft. Drake below:
Watch “Fall For Your Type” by Jamie Foxx ft. Drake below:
Watch “Moment 4 Life” by Nicki Minaj ft. Drake below:
Watch “I’m On One” by DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne below:
Watch “Round of Applause” by Waka Flocka Flame ft. Drake below:
A little over a year after releasing his debut album, Drake came right back with his sophomore album. Even though he loves hip hop, Drake loves music even more and he experimented with this album. In terms of a rap/hip hop album, it’s not too good of a project, but it is a great piece of musical work.
Many rappers did not get the concept, after hearing such singles as “Marvin’s Room,” but he took the game back over with “Headlines.” The song dominated the late summer and Drake was in a good position going into the release date. Even with the backlash, Drake still was all over the news, radio, and discussions among fans.
Drake had success with other singles, such as “Make Me Proud” with Nicki Minaj. He ended promotion for the album and soon focused on his guest appearances, once again. Teasing a 2012 album, Drake instead opted to visualize singles, “HYFR” with Lil Wayne, and “Take Care” with Rihanna. Regardless, Drake went double platinum.
Watch “Marvin’s Room” by Drake below:
Watch “Headlines” by Drake below:
Watch Drake and Nicki Minaj perform “Make Me Proud” live below:
Watch “The Motto” by Drake ft. Lil Wayne and Tyga below:
Watch “HYFR (Hell Ya, Fuckin Right)” by Drake ft. Lil Wayne below:
With the amount of success Drake had in 2011 and him ending the year with Take Care, it’s hard to imagine him being slighted by anything. Even with his alliance with Rick Ross and keeping the Young Money name alive, Drake ended up receiving shots from Pusha T and Common from G.O.O.D. Music. They continued to take their shots at Drake for no reason, Common came at him with his single, “Sweet,” leading to a major blowup.
Drake started the year of 2012 off appearing on Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin’,” also featuring French Montana. Having his fill of Common, Drake used the track to air the Chicago legend out, starting the first real beef in years. Beef was never a part of Drake’s plans, so he continued his guest role, assisting Tyga on “Still Got It” and appearing on Mary J. Blige’s “Mr. Wrong.” Once the summer hit, Drake kept his run going, jumping on 2 Chainz’ “No Lie,” Meek Mill’s “Amen,” and French Montana’s “Pop That.”
No Drake album came in 2012 and nobody noticed due to the sheer amount of scene-stealing verses he dropped. Without an album, 2012 was still Drake’s year and he shifted out of nowhere back into the spotlight in 2013. His single with A$AP Rocky, “Fuckin’ Problems,” peaked early in 2013, as did his track with Kendrick Lamar, “Poetic Justice,” which ran well into the spring. As the spring season hit, Drake was back with Lil Wayne on “Love Me” with Future, Justin Bieber’s “Right Here,” and DJ Khaled’s “No New Friends.”
Watch “Stay Schemin'” by Rick Ross ft. Drake and French Montana below:
Watch “Mr. Wrong” by Mary J. Blige ft. Drake below:
Watch “Still Got It” by Tyga ft. Drake below:
Watch “No Lie” by 2 Chainz ft. Drake below:
Watch “Pop That” by French Montana ft. Rick Ross, Drake, and Lil Wayne below:
Watch “Amen” by Meek Mill ft. Drake below:
Watch “Diced Pineapples” by Rick Ross ft. Wale and Drake below:
Watch “Fuckin’ Problems” by A$AP Rocky ft. 2 Chainz, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar below:
Watch “Poetic Justice” by Kendrick Lamar ft. Drake below:
Watch “Love Me” by Lil Wayne ft. Future and Drake below:
Watch “No New Friends” by DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne below:
Nothing Was The Same
Later this month, Drake will release his third studio album, Nothing Was The Same, which is the “make or break” album. Already, Drake has told his fans they should never expect a full rap album from him. This may make some never consider him for the throne, but Ja Rule dropped albums with plenty of singing and he held the throne.
It is the promotion leading up to Nothing Was The Same that has the hip hop media wondering if Drake can really take over. How many times can Drake go top five without taking the top? Surely, he isn’t the Utah Jazz of hip hop, because he shut the game down with “Started from the Bottom” and “5 AM in Toronto.”
Drake has endeared radio, once again, with his new single, “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” The song is also beginning to have its impact on the game and it is leading Drake into a different direction. Hip hop is still going through a transitional phase and it is clear the same veterans can’t continue to bail the game out.
In a little over a week, it’s up to Drake to finally establish his role as a leader in the rap game or continue remaining in the top five or top ten. Honestly speaking, the world doesn’t know what’s going to happen until it finally happens. But, with Drake’s entire career, which spans over seven years, presented and wrapped in a nice little bow, the question remains, can Drake really take the throne?
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