Drake has cemented his status as the most popular rapper of his generation by dropping eight full-length projects－five studio albums, two mixtapes (one solo, one joint), and a playlist－since the top of the decade. But The Boy’s ability to remain at the top of the rap game for 10 years running has more to do with his approach to the offseason. The interim between album cycles is when Drake gives his career momentum an adrenaline shot by dropping one-off loosies.
Over the past decade, the medium through which these loosies are delivered has changed, from leaking on Drake’s SoundCloud page and OVO Sound’s website during the first half of the decade to dropping via OVO Sound Radio on Apple Music in recent years; the quality of these tracks, though, sure hasn’t. In fact, many of Drake’s tossed-off SoundCloud cuts are equally as great as any one of the numerous greatest hits spread across his discography.
Without further ado, the 30 best Drake loosies ever.
Honorable Mentions: “Charged Up,” “Diplomatic Immunity,” “Duppy Freestyle,” “Heat of the Moment,” “Messages From U,” “Sweeterman,” “The Winner,” “What If I Kissed You,” “Wildfire,” “You Know You Know.”
30. “Views From The 6”
Release: August 24, 2014, on N/A
It’s hard to remember what the initial excitement surrounding Views From the 6 was like, particularly in August 2014, when an unknown member of Drake’s inner circle leaked a track titled “Views From the 6.” Drake’s verse grabbed headlines for its subject matter－as he reminisces on his relationship with Rihanna－but the icy vibe of the track is what grabbed fans’ attention. Soaked in the same wintery soundscape that would build the foundation for IYRTITL, we’ll never know why this leak didn’t wind up on the mixtape.
29. “My Side”
Producer: 40 & Boi-1da
Release: April 14, 2015, on OVO SoundCloud
“My Side” sure helps the Drake Would Be An Awful Boyfriend argument. The track paints him as a hypocritical basket case; he comes off as needy and jealous one second, only to sound like he’s the one who isn’t sure about being in a relationship the next (“We too busy for a wedding or a kid”). As usual, though, Drake is able to convince the listener to hear him out on the strength of his delivery alone.
Editor's Note: "My Side" was eventually added as one of two bonus tracks on the CD version of If You're Reading This It's Too Late.
28. “I Get Lonely Too”
Release: August 10, 2010
Drake spent the months following the June 2010 release of Thank Me Later teasing an R&B mixtape titled It’s Never Enough. That summer, as R&B-soaked reference tracks he penned for other artists sprung leaks, Drake revealed the first song from the project, “I Get Lonely Too.” The cut sees 40 masterfully strip down TLC’s “Fan Mail,” building a throbbing bass beat which helps Drake get in his feelings. Nine years later, though the tape never came to fruition, “I Get Lonely Too” is all the evidence one needs to be convinced that it likely would’ve been a better showcase of R&B Drake than Side B of Scorpion.
27. “All of the Lights (Remix)” ft. Lil Wayne & Big Sean
Producer: Kanye West
Release: March 10, 2011, on N/A
In August 2010, a snippet of a song that would become “All of the Lights” leaked, with a Drake verse at the beginning. But when the final version appeared on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy the following November, Drake was absent. And while he claimed to not care about being removed from the final cut, his performance on the star-studded remix suggests otherwise. Arriving two months before he’d signal the beginning of Take Care Season with “I’m On One” and “Dreams Money Can Buy,” his verse on “All of the Lights” put the rest of the rap game on notice.
26. “Free Spirit” ft. Rick Ross
Release: September 10, 2011, on OVO SoundCloud
Remember back in 2011 when Drake and Rick Ross were teasing a joint project called Y.O.L.O? Released two months before Take Care, “Free Spirit” was noticeably left off the project, which isn’t surprising given that a stronger Ross feature (“Lord Knows”) appeared on the LP. Still, “Free Spirit” is a great song in its own right, if not further proof that a Drizzy-Rozay full-length project would’ve been a blast.
25. “Right Hand”
Producer: Velous, Frank Dukes & Vinylz
Release: July 25, 2015, on OVO Sound Radio
Arriving alongside Drake’s first response to Meek Mill’s ghostwriting claims (“Charged Up”) and the then-biggest-single-of-his-career (“Hotline Bling”), on the second episode of OVO Sound Radio, “Right Hand” never had a chance to penetrate the culture. Backed by a grimy bassline courtesy of Frank Dukes and Vinylz, Drake weaves between rapping and singing, spitting petty bars to an unnamed woman that you can’t help but sing along to.
24. “Ransom” ft. Lil Wayne
Release: September 13, 2008, on Drake’s SoundCloud
Recorded on a tour bus somewhere between Houston and Atlanta, just hours after Jas Prince flew Drake into Houston to meet Lil Wayne, “Ransom” is the first evidence of a partnership that would soon take over the rap game. At the time, peak Wayne had the power to make or break careers; his appearance on “Ransom,” then, did the former, as his co-sign of Drake single-handedly put the budding rookie on hip-hop’s radar. No hook, no bridge, and no crooning from Drake, “Ransom” is just bars. Going toe-to-toe with the Best Rapper Alive, 22-year-old Drake holds his own, with an opening verse that remains one of the best of his young career.
23. “The Motion” ft. Sampha
Producer: 40 & Sampha
Release: June 22, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
Drake took to Twitter in the early morning hours of June 22, 2013 to announce the release date for Nothing Was the Same, and whet his ravenous fans’ appetites by dropping a four-pack of songs: “The Motion,” “Jodeci Freestyle,” “Versace (Remix),” and the remix to PND’s “Over Here.” Out of all the songs, “The Motion” sounds the most like it was meant to appear on NWTS, if not be released as the album’s second single. The first collaboration between Drake and Sampha, the song displayed the pair’s chemistry, which would be fully realized two months later when the UK crooner handled hook duties on NWTS stand-out “Too Much.”
22. “Jodeci Freestyle” ft. J. Cole
Release: June 22, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
“Jodeci Freestyle” catches Drake and J. Cole at a pivotal moment in their respective careers－no longer rookies but not quite veterans, their reign just beginning. Hearing Drake rap that he’s “26 on his third GQ cover” is a sobering reminder of how much time has passed; you can’t help but feel nostalgic for this version of the pair, back when they had time to playfully talk shit while eyeing the throne.
21. “Girls Love Beyonce” ft. James Fauntleroy
Release: April 16, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
On the surface, this track felt contrived－of course 40 would build a beat around Destiny’s Child’s biggest hit, for Drake to wallow－but did you really think 40’s flip of “Say My Name” would be anything short of gorgeous? I doubt it. And while Drake may not have brought his A-game, he’s at his most confused, confessional self. He’s the only rapper who could explain his understanding of women with lyrics like “I know Girls love Beyonce / Girls wanna fuck with your conscience,” before following it up with sad-sack lines like “These days it’s hard to meet women / Feel like my love life is finished,” without being hated.
20. “Club Paradise”
Release: September 10, 2011, on OVO SoundCloud
Drake relocated from Los Angeles back to his native Toronto, intent on capturing the sound of So Far Gone with Take Care. While “Dreams Money Can Buy” remains the best song left off his sophomore offering, “Club Paradise,” the final scratch which leaked two months prior to the project’s November release, is the one that would’ve fit best on the album. Named after his favorite strip club in Toronto, the track is an ode to his hometown and is the moment Drake realizes that he’s no longer the homecoming hero he hoped to be. He’s melancholy about his growing fame, nervous about fucking up the double cheek kiss at New York Fashion Week, and longing for “that ignorant Young Money Miami Beach shit.”
19. “Summer Sixteen”
Producer: 40, Boi-1da, & CuBeatz
Release: January 30, 2016, on OVO Sound Radio
“Summer Sixteen” was a call to arms. It finds Drake on the offensive, sending direct shots at recent victim Meek Mill and not-so-subliminal subliminals at up-and-coming Toronto artists, specifically Tory Lanez. Produced by 40, Boi-1da, and CuBeatz, “Summer Sixteen” is all hammering bass and Drake venom, perfectly encapsulating the icy vibe of a frigid winter in Toronto. The 6 God delivers both verses cooly yet villainously as if he’s riding shotgun while parading around back streets of Scarborough and plotting his revenge.
18. “2 On/Thotful (Remix)”
Producer: DJ Mustard, 40
Release: May 12, 2014, on OVO SoundCloud
Drake ran the rap game in 2014 solely on the strength of one-off singles. Take a moment and look at this murderer’s row of hits he released between December 2013 and October 2014: “0 to 100/The Catch Up,” “Tuesday,” “Draft Day,” “Trophies,” “Wade Made It,” “Days in the East,” “How Bout Now,” “6 God,” and “Heat of the Moment.” I mean, good God. Perhaps the greatest testament to Drake’s unbelievable run that year is that “2 On/Thotful” is probably the eighth best song in the group. No matter, though. After letting long-time hype man OB O’Brien open the song with a verse, Drake glides over the DJ Mustard-produced beat like Tinashe, only better, before 40’s atmospheric production leads us into “Thotful,” the second-half of the two-parter.
17. “We Made It” ft. Soulja Boy
Producer: Purp Dogg
Release: December 28, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
Never one to shy away from beating his chest, Drake takes bravado to the extreme on “We Made It,” yet you never doubt his sincerity for a second, even as he ratchets up the douchebaggery on cringe-worthy lines like “She said she working for Walgreens but not at the store at the head office / The head was so good it makes sense why you work at the head office.” In typical Drake fashion, he makes you feel like the coolest motherfucker alive without having to put forth much of an effort.
16. “Can I” ft. Beyoncé
Release: May 22, 2015, on OVO SoundCloud
How hot was Drake on the heels of IYRTITL? Hot enough to have the Queen doing nothing more than speaking the hook on a tossed-off SoundCloud track. Ironically, the small dose of Beyoncé works in the track’s favor; her seductive vocals function more like a sample than a feature which, in tandem with 40’s minimalist production, helps create one of the most underrated songs in Drake’s entire catalog. Beyoncé’s “Can I, baby?” weaves around 40’s ambient beat, as Drake uses her vocals to begin and end each of his lines, which find him grilling an unknown lover in an introspective manner. If Brooding Drake is your favorite Drake, this track is right up your alley.
15. “9 AM in Dallas”
Release: June 14, 2010, on iTunes
The song that started Drake’s “AM/PM” series, Drake wanted “9 AM in Dallas” to serve as the intro to his debut album, but it failed to make the final tracklist as it was recorded the same day the LP was being mastered. As soon as the track leaked a few days before the official release of Thank Me Later, it was unanimously praised as one of the greatest lyrical exercises of his young career. In hindsight, this remains one of the most fascinating what-ifs in Drake’s career: Had “9 AM in Dallas” taken “Fireworks” place as the album’s opener, does this change our reaction to Thank Me Later? Absolutely. And while Drake’s full-length offering was still received warmly, kick-starting the first studio offering of his career with a lyrical explosion like “9 AM” would’ve been nothing short of a statement.
14. “Versace (Remix)”
Release: June 22, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
The Drake buzz has never been hotter than the summer of 2013. As we anxiously awaited the follow-up to 2011’s Take Care, Drake had largely spent the lead-up to NWTS in radio silence, save for first single “Started From the Bottom” and loosie “5 AM in Toronto,” which dropped in February and March of that year, respectively.
But on June 22, he kickstarted the roll-out to the biggest album of his career by adding a verse to a bubbling smash from an up-and-coming trio by the name of Migos. Over Zaytoven’s production, Drake bodied a beat so far out of his wheelhouse, so effortlessly, he didn’t need his own single to take control of the summer. Everything he touched at the time was gold; “Versace,” though was something else entirely. It was the moment he reminded the rest of the rap game that the Drake Regime had begun.
13. “Tuesday (Remix)”
Producer: Sonny Digital & Metro Boomin
Release: August 12, 2014, on OVO SoundCloud
For as much as we berate Drake for his vampiristic tendency to ride a buzzing artist’s wave for his own gain, give credit where it’s due: The Boy has a damn-near-perfect track-record when it comes to transforming unknown songs into viral hits. Built around Sonny Digital and Metro Boomin’s syrupy beat and iLoveMakonnen’s Auto-Tune-enhanced vocals, “Tuesday” provided Drake an opportunity to step out of his comfort zone. By delivering perhaps the best vocal performance he’s ever laid to wax, Drake helped “Tuesday” go viral, which in turn minted Makonnen a star and gave the most boring day of the week new meaning.
12. “Trust Issues”
Producer: Adrian X & 40
Release: June 21, 2011, on OVO SoundCloud
Arriving two weeks following the release of “I’m On One,” “Trust Issues” was, according to Drake, “just something I did while writin’ ‘On One;” opening the track by reusing the hook that made the former an early song of the summer contender, “Trust Issues” further solidified what Lil Wayne said two years earlier on “Money to Blow”: We gon’ be alright if we put Drake on every hook.
11. “Two Birds One Stone”
Release: October 23, 2016, on OVO Sound Radio
On the scathing diss track, Drake sends various shots at G.O.O.D. Music, insinuating that Pusha-T exaggerates his drug-dealing past (“But really it's you with all the drug dealer stories that's gotta stop, though / You made a couple chops and now you think you Chapo”), and mocking Kid Cudi’s struggle with mental illness.
In hindsight, it’s ironic that the song which led to Pusha-T vocalizing Drake’s parents’ marital issues on “The Story of Adidon,” finds Drake discussing their divorce, as he does on “Two Birds and One Stone, rapping, “More blessings for Sandi and him, more life / My parents never got it right / God bless 'em both.”
Eerily, two years later, Drake was the one left wondering what could have been had he not poured gasoline on an already simmering fire between him and Pusha-T.
Producer: Hit-Boy, 40, Hagler
Release: December 29, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
We got our first taste of “Trophies” in a mysterious trailer Drake dropped two weeks before the release of NWTS, causing fans to speculate as to where the song would ultimately slot on the album. When the album arrived, though, Hit-Boy’s theatrical horn loop was nowhere to be found. Three months later, the full version of “Trophies” leaked two days before New Years Eve, a decision which had as much to do with his fans as himself: sure, the track had potential to be a chart-topping hit, but more than anything, it was a celebratory ode to the biggest year of his career.
9. “Draft Day”
Producer: Syk Sense
Release: April 1, 2014, on OVO SoundCloud
“Draft Day” is a slick-talking flex with more pop culture references than any song in the Drake canon. Over a sample of Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” he opens the track sounding as confident and loose as he ever has, rapping, “Sometimes I laugh with God about how you can’t stop me / I’m his darkest angel, probably, but he still got me.” From there, he’s off and running, sending stray shots at then-up-and-comer Chance, directing subliminals at Hov, and touching on everything from his Sprite endorsement and love for Jennifer Lawrence to dining with Qatar royals and eating raw oysters. The verse may be braggadocious, but Drake’s charisma has you rooting for him the entire time
8. “Days in the East”
Producer: 40 & PND
Release: April 3, 2014, on OVO SoundCloud
After the victory lap that was “Draft Day,” Drake reminded fans that the success of NWTS hadn’t resolved his relationship problems on “Days in the East.” Of all the songs he’s premiered in the middle of the night, this one sounds like it was crafted following a night of drinking, smoking, and reflecting. The highlight of the track comes around the three-minute mark when the beat slows down and he begins his final verse. As a listener, it feels like you’re having a heart-to-heart with Drake over a hot cup of tea; forget “5 AM in Toronto,” this song deserved to be called “5 AM at Erykah Badu’s.”
7. “How Bout Now”
Release: October 19, 2014, on OVO SoundCloud
Arriving on the heels of a five-year stretch where Drake had already cemented his status as the King of Petty, this track was not only about an unappreciative ex-girlfriend, but also Drake’s subtle way of saying to all his haters: “Oh, you thought I was petty before? How bout now?” By the time it dropped in the fall of 2014, he had as close to a 100 percent approval rating as he’s ever had over the course of his career; ever the opportunist, Drake took advantage of this accordingly, delivering nearly every line with an arrogance that dares you to challenge him. As if that’s not enough, he had the audacity to build a vindictive statement around a chipmunk sample of Jodeci’s love letter that is “My Heart Belongs To U.” The King of Petty for ten years running: Aubrey Graham.
6. “Dreams Money Can Buy”
Release: May 20, 2011, on OVO SoundCloud
Before he would take shots at the throne on “I’m On One,” before he became the first artist to craft a drunk-dialing masterpiece with “Marvins Room," and before Take Care became one of the most significant rap albums for a generation, Drake marked his return with “Dreams Money Can Buy.” 40’s production embodies the bristling ambiance that would go on to define Drake’s forthcoming magnum opus, as Drake assesses his ascension into the upper echelon of the rap game. This isn’t the rookie who sounded uncomfortable on Thank Me Later; instead, he’s frosty, delivering both verses as if he’s comfortably sitting shotgun while his driver speeds down Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, where Drake had bunkered down to begin recording Take Care.
5. “Paris Morton Music”
Release: July 10, 2010, on OVO SoundCloud
Over a Miami Vice-style beat that captures what makes night driving on Ocean Drive unforgettable, “Paris Morton Music” strikes the perfect balance between Confident Drake and Insecure Drake. One second he’s pondering the side effects of fame and longing for simpler times; the next he’s asking who else has fleets on their keychains and courtside seats for the Heat’s forthcoming LeBron-Wade-Bosh era.
Right after boasting about how debating Ferrari prices over lunch has him—at 23 years old, no less—amidst a midlife crisis, he’s wrestling with insecurities stemming from his middle-class upbringing (“It take a certain type of man to teach / To be far from hood, but to understand the street”), before he goes back to rapping with a chip on his shoulder (“I never threw away that paper with my GRAMMY speech / Because I haven’t hit the pinnacles I plan to reach”)
4. “4 PM in Calabasas”
Producer: Frank Dukes & Vinylz
Release: June 5, 2016, on OVO Sound Radio
The summer of 2016 was a legacy-check moment for both the biggest rapper and greatest basketball player of the last decade. Two weeks before LeBron James would remind doubters that he, not Steph Curry, was the best NBA player on the planet, Drake was forced to prove his greatness, and did, with his first offering post-Views, “4 PM in Calabasas.” Premiered a little over a month after critics and the majority of hip-hop heads began discussing whether he was amidst the beginning of his decline, Drake came correct on the fourth and latest edition of his “AM/PM” series. Sure, he might not have sounded as hungry as he did on “5 AM in Toronto” or “9 AM in Dallas,” but it didn’t matter.
3. “5 AM in Toronto”
Producer: Vinylz & Boi-1da
Release: March 7, 2013, on OVO SoundCloud
As big of a Drake stan as I consider myself to be, I entered 2013 completely convinced that Kendrick had supplanted Drake as the biggest rapper alive with Good Kid, M.A.A.D City; one song is all it took for me to change my mind. “5 AM in Toronto” was not only a warning shot to the rest of hip-hop that said “The game is mine,” but also the best rapping of Drake’s career; he’s never sounded as hungry, pompous, and self-aware as he does here. Six years on, it remains the exact moment when Drake went from up-and-coming rapper to undisputed King of the rap game.
2. “Back to Back”
Producer: 40, Drake, & NAV
Release: July 29, 2015, on OVO SoundCloud
The greatest diss records in hip-hop history double as club bangers: “Dre Day,” “Hit ‘Em Up,” “Takeover,” “Back Down,” “Back to Back.” Sure, Drake assassinated Meek Mill on the record, but more importantly, he crafted a smash hit, which in turn helped him own the clubs during the summer of 2015. You know a diss song is iconic when people who’ve never heard of Meek Mill, let alone have followed the beef, rap along to it word-for-word. Three years on, the track remains a DJ favorite, and for good reason: “Back to Back” still goes.
1. “0 to 100/The Catch Up”
Producer: 40, Boi-1da, Frank Dukes, & Nineteen85
Release: June 1, 2014, on OVO SoundCloud
After snatching the crown in September 2013 with his third studio album Nothing Was the Same, Drake’s official return came on June 1, 2014, with “0 To 100 / The Catch Up.” The track wasn’t the first time he declared himself alpha dog of the rap game, but it was the first time he was right. By then, the only question worth asking was where Drake ranked on the list of all-time greats, something he was beginning to wonder himself. It’s easy to imagine Drake delivering the verse from his estate in the hills above Calabasas, looking out at the glimmering lights of Los Angeles while plotting the next act of his career. “'Cause I’m only 27 and I’m only getting better / If I haven’t passed you yet, watch me catch up now.”