Drake is officially back on his bullsh*t, parachuting in at the tail-end of one or the most eye-popping months for new hip-hop releases in years with a 90-minute long, 25-song behemoth of an album titled Scorpion. Listen, if you like Drake chances are you’re probably going to enjoy his latest record. If you don’t like Drake, you probably won’t. If you think Views is his best full-length project to date, you’re probably going to love Scorpion, as it adopts much of the same, icy, navel-gazing vibe of that similarly monolithic album.
What everyone can probably agree on is that 25 tracks is a lot of songs to get through in one album. Some might argue it’s too many songs, but The Beatles’ White Album was 30 tracks long, so I guess it’s all really relative right? That being said, for the purposes of everyday listening — unless your commute runs an hour and a half long (and God help you if it does), you might be inclined to cut through the skippable songs and filler and get right to the cream of the crop on Scorpion. If that’s happens to be the case, I’ve ranked each and every song on Drake’s latest project from worst to best to help you decide what to keep in, and what might be worth passing over.
25. “Ratchet Happy Birthday”
It’s been 37 years since Stevie Wonder released the last, essential birthday song into the popular consciousness. The time was ripe for an artist as big as Drake to come in and own that corner, except on “Ratchet Happy Birthday,” he whiffed. Bad. “You talk so tough, I know you’re soft like buttercups / Reese’s, Reese’s, don’t be ridiculous.” C’mon man. Look forward to hearing this and cringing during the next episode of My Super Sweet 16.
24. “I’m Upset”
One of Drake’s musical superpowers is his innate ability to pick a single. This is honestly a lot harder than it might seem, and many artists have sunk their careers by choosing the wrong cuts from their albums to highlight in advance. Not Drizzy. “I’m Upset,” however was a major miscalculation. It has the vibe of a major temper tantrum, and coming, as it did in the middle of his feud with Pusha-T, it made Drake look way in over his head.
23. “8 Out Of 10”
“8 Out Of 10” earned it’s place near the bottom of this list by carrying some of the groan-inducing punchlines on Scorpion. I don’t know what’s worse, “I had to Copperfield like presto / Voilà,” or “The only deadbeats is whatever beats I been rappin’ to.” The refrain is also the lamest kind of boast: “Your sister is pressin’ play, your trainer is pressin’ play / Your wifey, your wifey, your wifey, your wifey…”
22. “Is There More”
Side A, the rap side of Scorpion, comes to a close with this track “Is There More,” which finds Drake in peak, rich-sad guy mode. He’s got all the money in the world and more women than he knows what to do with, and yet he still needs to know, “Is there more to life than digits and bankin’ accounts?” It’s not a bad question for a man in his position to ponder, it’s just that Drake has been asking the same questions for almost a decade now, and in more compelling ways on more compelling songs than this one. It’s the cover of Take Care in drab, sonic form.
21. “Can’t Take A Joke”
If Drake had written a song aimed at Pusha-T titled “Can’t Take A Joke” after the month we’ve just had, it would’ve been a top 5 lock, hands down, no question. Unfortunately, the song Drake actually wrote that called “Can’t Take A Joke,” isn’t about Pusha-T at all, and instead is more of a snapshot in a night in the life of a very famous person cruising through Hidden Hills. There’s also not much happening hear sonically outside of some trap drums and a general wash of minor-key synths. Yawn.
20. “In My Feelings”
“In My Feelings” automatically wins the prize for the Drake-iest song title in all of Drake’s entire discography. You had a good run “Hate Sleeping Alone,” but all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, the best thing about “In My Feelings” might be its title, with the (sampled) cameo from his mentor Lil Wayne coming in at a close second.
A song aimed at a very beautiful woman that Drake apparently would like to have a child with… in the hopes that his baby would have her eyes. He seems committed to this person in the song, pledging over a laconic beat in one side of his mouth that, “I would make time for you,” while also bemoaning having to wear a suit and tie, because, “Fashion week is more your thing than mine.” You gotta show up for these things man. Can’t have it both ways.
“Jaded” is the point on this list where things start to get really interesting. Roping in 2018’s feature spot superstar Ty Dolla Sign, Drake sings with a breathy register about feeling used by someone else who he actually cared about. The music itself crackles with an undercurrent of electricity and Drake and Dolla weave around one another, commiserating in their shared sorrow.
17. “Talk Up”
Shoutout to Jay-Z for real. Hov is damn near 50 years old at this point and still dropping off fire bars like it’s a day at the park. And you know, with the shoutout to XXXTentacion included here that this wasn’t something Drake had sitting around waiting to drop, he pulled Jiggaman in at the last minute to steal the scene right from underneath him. Guess it probably helps when you share a common enemy huh? (Eyeball Emojis hovering over an image of Kanye West)
16. “Mob Ties”
If you’re going to pinch the same piano sample from Nas’ “Affirmative Action,” I’m already in. It’s the kind of menacing melody that makes your ears perk up right from the jump. On the other hand, this is distractingly obvious, let’s call it an homage, to Young Thug’s vocal delivery where Drake, Canadian good-boy, tries to flash his mafioso bonafides. It’s fun to listen to, even if it doesn’t quite work all the way.
15. “Final Fantasy”
One minute you’re listening to a lovely, lo-fi and whimsical arrangement of strings, and the next Drake comes in like a horny wrecking ball, with the admission that “I never really talk about dick that I wanna give you.” Alrighty then. Drake has clearly dispensed with his conflicted feelings on “Final Fantasy,” opting for a more primal posture, which is alright by me. The line “Careful when we’re mixin’ potion / Slashin’ like Guns N’ Roses,” may very well have helped bump this track up three or four slots on this list.
The Scorpion album opens with a flourish of 8-bit soundalike synth twinkles and the promise that Drake has, “Been waiting on this.” You can almost hear him popping his neck from side to side and getting the shoulders limber in preparation for the wave of feelings, thoughts and emotions he’s about to drop on you. “Survival” is a fine song, but as Drizzy himself notes, “This just the intro.” At just a shade over two minutes, it’s an admittedly tasty amuse-bouche before the full-on feast makes it to the table.
13. “March 14”
Normally, Drake uses the final cut on his projects as a sort of State Of OVO address, but on Scorpion, he decided to go another way, confronting in a real, no-bullshit way about how he really feels about becoming a father. He doesn’t love his son’s mother and that hurts — “She not my lover like Billie Jean, but the kid is mine” — and he’s upset with himself that he wasn’t able to follow through with a vision of the future that he’d laid out in his own mind — “Single father, I hate when I hear it” — but at the very least he’s being honest. On the other hand, you have to wonder what Drake’s kid is going to make of this song when he’s able to fully process it in several years time, even as he comes to “Realize I gotta think for two now.”
12. “Sandra’s Rose”
In case you weren’t aware, Drake’s mother’s name is Sandra Graham, which for the purposes of this song, would make Drizzy himself the rose. A bit corny? Sure, but pop song’s by their very nature are inherently corny, and besides, I don’t give a f*ck how corny Drake wants to get — he also compares himself to Adele in this song — you can’t deny the infectious vibes of the beat put together by no less than DJ Premier on this track.
The melody on “Elevate” is absolutely haunting, with disembodied voices hovering just above Drake as he rips into the track with a braggadocios swagger absent from most of the rest of the songs on Scorpion. This is workaholic Drake filled with paranoia thinking about how he got here and how quickly it could all go away. A millionaire many times over who also has “Gotta move the safe beside the bed when I be sleepin'” in order to get any real peace.
10. “After Dark”
Static Major and Ty Dolla Sign conspire to steal the entire show from Drake on “After Dark.” In another universe where Static had lived past his 33 years, I would have loved for someone to have given both of those gentlemen three weeks of studio time and an adequate budget to create something no doubt spectacular. Every good R&B album is required to have at least one — and honestly, more than three — sweaty, carnal sex jams. “After Dark” carries that mantle with sleazy, candlelit aplomb.
9. “That’s How You Feel”
“That’s How You Feel” is a f*cking vibe my friends. Sometimes, in his minor-key moments, Drake has a tendency to drift into realms that are maybe too icy; too devoid of heart over beats that are stripped a little too close to the bone. Fortunately, “That’s How You Feel,” manages to avoid the ice crevices with a head-bop inducing chorus and a thrilling cameo from his Young Money cohort Nicki Minaj via a sample of her “Boss Ass Bitch” freestyle from 2014.
8. “Summer Games”
I’m not trying to be contrarian, but I’m often drawn to the song on an album that sounds least like the others. On Scorpion, that is undoubtedly the roomy, new wave “Summer Games.” Rob Sheffield has already noted on Twitter how it cribs from OMD, which alone is intriguing as all heck, but the more obvious reference (at least from Drake’s perspective) is his newfound friendship with the Stranger Things kids. There’s something wildly, uh, Drakeian about taking an aesthetic that doesn’t fit in your collection and just smacking it in the middle somewhere because it sounds dope. Give me a whole album of this, please.–Philip Cosores
Drake sets the tone for Scorpion’s side B at a crawl, with the molasses-slow beat to “Peak.” The drums take their time to ring out, and Drake himself is in full-on crooner mode, stretching out his voice with warbly “oohs,” and “ahhs,” singing about a former lover he refuses to name. About a minute in, the glitchy, high-pitched keyboards stab their way into the mix jolting you out of the malaise and putting you immediately on high alert. Fine production work by Noah “40” Shebib, and some of Drake’s best singing to-date.
Tay Keith was already racking up accolades as the guy behind BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive,” and he expands his scope on this standout that also features No ID and Noel Cadastre behind the boards. On “Nonstop” the importance of an excellent beat for a rapper like Drake becomes apparent; due to the upbeat tempo of the production, “Nonstop” ends up feeling like one of the fastest and most exuberant songs on Scorpion. While it doesn’t quite hit a cheerful mode, there’s plenty of hilarious lines here — “I can’t go in public like civilian for real” — that fall on the other side of paranoid, moody line that permeates most of the record. It’s almost a banger, and on a record full of joyless, moody songs, it stands out immediately as one of the best, especially when you imagine a girl calling Drake “bae” and the boy responding by hitting the Drizzy dance.–Caitlin White
5. “Blue Tint”
The minute you hear Future warble out the world “Pluto” in his signature warble on this track, you already know it’s gonna be good. Though the pair don’t go back and forth, like they do on much of their joint album What A Time To Be Alive, there’s something electric that happens with Future and Drake pair together. “Blue Tint” is a song all about second chances, with Drake showing some real self-awareness about why he’s polarizing personality, while also reigning as the most commercially successful artist in the universe. “Top of the charts, back in they hearts / N—- he strikes again, who / Some n—- bitter with life and they hate me / They wanna put knife in my ribs, whoa.” Some people are just gonna hate you no matter what.
4. “God’s Plan”
“God’s Plan” was the harbinger of everything that came after. While it kind of feels like it happened a million years ago at this point, the video where Drake gave away a million dollars of his label’s money was a much-needed feel-good moment in a year largely devoid of feel-good moments. The line “She said, ‘Do you love me?’ I tell her, ‘Only partly’ / I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry,” cuts to the absolute core of Drake’s entire aesthetic in such a hilarious, and clear-eyed way that I can’t help but smile every single time I hear it.
“Emotionless” is the track everyone was waiting to hear when Pusha T clearly enunciated the phrase “you are hiding a child,” on his diss track “The Story Of Adidon.” It’s the song where Drake addresses his previously unknown status as a father head-on, offering a pretty compelling reason for why he’d chosen to keep the news about his progeny under wraps. “Look at the way we live,” he notes while gesturing to all of social media. “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world / I was hidin’ the world from my kid.” You can choose to believe that as much as you’d like — I remain suspect — but the revelation in thrilling nonetheless, and the superb sample of Mariah Carey singing as high as the iconic voice can get over the top just enhances the tension of it all.
2. “Don’t Matter To Me”
I honestly can’t remember the last time an artist pulled a flex this big on a record? Can you even fathom how much money Drake must have spent to get the ghost of Michael Jackson to show up and deliver the hook on this song? It’s…. a lot. Luckily, “Don’t Matter To Me” isn’t a flex for a flex’s sake. Oliver “40” Shebib used Michael’s unreleased vocals to maximum, breezy effect in a manner that sounds wholly fresh, and genuinely makes you wonder what kind of music the “King Of Pop” might be putting together had his life not come to such a tragic, and abrupt end nearly a decade ago. Listen to this one at high volumes while cruising along the highway with the windows all the way down.
1. “Nice For What”
“Nice For What” is the song of the summer in 2018. All due respect to your favorite underdog selection by whomever, twenty years from now, when some director is making a film about the dog days of the Trump administration or whatever and they need an upbeat song in a montage to capture the vibe of the period, I’d bet $100 — hold for inflation — that’d they choose this one. It’s an uplifting New Orleans bounce jam that finds Drake embracing the role of a real ally to women dogged by lame dudes trying to waste their time when they should be out living their own lives. Even at the very nadir of Drake’s year, when he posted the note to Instagram, carefully explaining the reason he’d shown up in a photo shoot wearing blackface, you’d still here “Nice For What” blasting out of car windows, stereos, clubs, and pool parties. “Everybody get your mothafuckin’ roll on!”