Until now, the closest Drake ever got has been No. 2.
It has to have killed him. All the awards, the accolades, the money, the memes, and the notoriety he’s garnered in his decade in the rap game, and Drake always got within reach, only to lose out on the one thing he’s always wanted at the last moment.
You can’t call yourself No. 1 until you’ve earned it. Sure, Drake can lay claim to the title of the top rapper in the game, the de facto biggest name in music, but until he saw the title of one of his songs on the top of the Billboard Hot 100, how could it ever feel legitimate? After all, men lie and women lie, but numbers don’t.
And so he strove for the one indelible, undeniable hit that would take him to the mountaintop and solidify his claim, before someone — most likely Kendrick Lamar — came along to snatch it from him permanently.
However, for some reason, it seemed that every chance he took on a new sound, every attempt to offer fans the version of Drake they claimed they wanted, was thwarted.
His first big chance, ironically, came from his second single and first as a solo artist. After the forgettable Trey Songz collaboration, “Replacement Girl,” from his second mixtape, Comeback Season, “Best I Ever Had” came roaring out of the gate from the jump. As unremarkable as “Replacement Girl” was, “Best I Ever Had” was the triumphant announcement that Drake had, at last, arrived.
It came from seemingly out of nowhere, climbing the charts until it finally ran out of gas at No. 2 on the Hot 100. Unfortunately, the bizarre success of Drake’s first “real” single coincided with the monstrous run of the Black Eyed Peas and their teen-movie-soundtracking smash “I Got A Feeling.
The inescapable bounce of the made-for-corporate-America Peas song was just too much for the plucky upstart from Canada to overcome, but Drake had made his mark and set his goal. No. 1 seemed like a foregone conclusion. All he needed was one more single.