Every Drake Album Intro & Outro, Ranked

Drake’s catalog is composed of unforgettable intros and outros. Since we love to watch the Internet burn, we ranked them all.
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Drake's Album Intros & Outros, Ranked

Over the past decade, perhaps no rapper has paid as much attention to the first and final impressions an album will leave listeners with than Drake. From his 2009 breakthrough mixtape, So Far Gone, to last year’s Scorpion, each of Drake’s projects has used the intro and outro as moments of introspection—where he reflects, responds, and reconciles with his life.

For the sake of argument, we’re going to rank Drake’s intros and outros from his eight solo projects, beginning with So Far Gone. It’s worth noting that we didn’t include two of his best outros: “Fear,” a bonus track and the only new song on his 2009 commercial release, So Far Gone EP; and “30 For 30 Freestyle,” the exceptional closer and lone solo Drake track from his joint mixtape with Future, 2015’s What A Time To Be Alive.

Intros

8. “Fireworks” ft. Alicia Keys

Album: Thank Me Later (2010)
Producer: 40, Boi-1da, Crada

Drake wanted “9AM in Dallas” to serve as the intro to his debut album, but it failed to make the final tracklist. (He recorded the song the same day the LP was being mastered.) When the track leaked a few days before the official release of Thank Me Later, fans and critics alike unanimously praised it as one of the greatest lyrical exercises Drake had ever laid to wax. 

In hindsight, this remains one of the most fascinating what-ifs in Drake’s career: Had “9AM in Dallas” taken the place of “Fireworks” as the album’s opener, does this change our reaction to Thank Me Later? Absolutely. Sure, Drake’s first full-length offering was still received warmly, but kick-starting the proper debut of his career with a lyrical explosion like “9AM in Dallas” would’ve been a statement.

7. “Lust For Life”

Album: So Far Gone (2009)
Producer: 40

This So Far Gone opener sets the tone for the rest of the mixtape, if not for Drake’s entire career. 40’s lo-fi, underwater production provides young Aubrey with a perfect platform for deep soul searching, as his confidence undercut by uncertainty comes through clearly: 

The game got these old handprints on it / But Ima be the one to pour cement on it / Uh, and start over / And show up in a Margiela tux, I don’t really give a fuck, And we only gettin older / So what I tend to do is to think of today as the past / It’s funny when you comin in first, but you hope that you last / You just hope that it lasts.”

6. “Survival”

Album: Scorpion (2018)
Producer: No I.D., 40

In the wake of Pusha-T’s “You are hiding a child” allegations, I expected more from Drake on Scorpion’s opening track. And yet, “Survival” is hard to hate on—despite the James Bond type beat. While it’s not as energetic or passionate as his best intros, the track features a handful of quotable lines. Drake throws shots at Meek (“I’ve had real Philly n****s try to write my endin’”), Diddy (“I’ve had scuffles with bad boys that wasn’t pretendin’”), and Makonnen (“You n****s pop mollies, my Mali’s pop n****s”), before dropping the album’s most subtle flex (“House on both coasts, but I live on the charts”).

5. “Free Smoke”

Album: More Life (2017)
Producer: Boi-1da, Allen Ritter

The opening sped-up sample of Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Building a Ladder” is a tease. Even when those gorgeous vocals bleed into hard-hitting trap drums, it feels like something is missing. This feeling is probably the result of the More Life intro coming on the heels of four consecutive superb album openers from The Boy. 

Even so, “Free Smoke” is a welcome opener, and finds Drake still angry and agitated about the critics’ warm reception of Views. He didn’t just want to beat his competition; he wanted them to move far away or just get buried:

I wanna move to Dubai, so I don’t never have to kick it with none of you guys / I didn’t listen to Hov on that old song, when he told me pay it no mind / I get more satisfaction outta goin' at your head, and seein' all of you die / And I seen a lot of you die.

4. “Keep the Family Close”

Album: Views (2016)
Producer: Maneesh

The combination of lush strings and grandiose production puts the first track of the most anticipated album of Drake’s career epic in scope. At the time, “Keep the Family Close,” much like the rest of the album, felt like an exhausting slog. Now, three years removed from Views release, are we sure the intro hasn’t aged well? 

Considering we’ve heard all the critiques—even by Drake himself (“I was an angry yute when I was writin’ Views,” he rapped on “Do Not Disturb” one year later), and his mom (whose voicemail message on More Life’s “Can’t Have Everything” referenced the “negative tone” she heard in his voice)—“Keep the Family Close” has aged better than anyone could’ve hoped. In 2019, “All of my let’s just be friends,’ are friends I don’t have anymore” couldn’t reign truer for Drake, or myself.

3. “Legend”

Album: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015)
Producer: PARTYNEXTDOOR

When the world pressed play on the opening track to IYRTITL, fans were expecting another room-shaking intro a la “Tuscan Leather.” Instead, Drake treated us to the opposite—a distorted, pulsating sample of Ginuwine’s “So Anxious,” paving the way for a stellar singing performance from The Boy. 

In hindsight, PARTYNEXTDOOR’s chop perfectly exemplifies what was to come: a slow but steady, moody project on which hip-hop’s newly-crowned King would come off paranoid yet unflappable, arrogant yet hungry.

2. “Over My Dead Body”

Album: Take Care (2011)
Producer: 40

On November 7, 2011, during the twilight of the pre-Instagram era—before scheduled release dates were abided by and albums arrived at the crack of midnight via streaming giants Apple Music and Spotify—Take Care sprung a leak. Drake’s sophomore LP hit the Internet, accompanied by impossible expectations. Every millennial hip-hop head had cemented the album as an instant classic as soon as he sent warning shots to rivals earlier that summer on “Dreams Money Can Buy” and “I’m On One.”

Alas, the first lines of Take Care were powerful enough to erase any sense of doubt. “I think I killed everybody in the game last year, man, fuck it, I was on though,” Drake raps. His vocals sat comfortably behind 40’s airy production, a distorted piano loop, and an eerie hook sung by Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk. From the jump, “Over My Dead Body” didn’t just feel like the perfect opener for his first classic album; it was also the beginning of the Drake Regime.

1. “Tuscan Leather”

Album: Nothing Was the Same (2013)
Producer: 40

How do you follow up one of the best album openers in hip-hop history? Take a Whitney Houston sample, inject it with steroids cut from the same cloth as the chipmunk-soul sound popularized in the early-2000s by Kanye, Just Blaze, and the Heatmakerz, then rap as if your life depended on it—for three consecutive verses.

“Tuscan Leather” starts with 40’s hall-of-fame production. While similar to the chirping vocal loops the Harlem-bred Heatmakerz trademarked on the Diplomats’ “I’m Ready,” 40 raises the stakes. He samples one of the most recognizable songs from the biggest female pop star of the ‘80s (Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing); speeding it up and reversing it before flipping it three different times to create three distinct beats.

Of course, production this monumental would’ve been all for naught if Drake hadn’t brought his A-game. And boy, did he ever. Drake matches every 40 switch-up with a completely different flow and mood. On the first verse, he’s confident, on the second, he’s defiant, and on the closing frame, he’s introspective. It all amounts to arguably the best song in Drake’s discography, one that makes every hookless freestyle of his inferior by default.

Outros

8. “Thank Me Now”

Album: Thank Me Later (2010)
Producer: Timbaland

Timbaland’s beat on Thank Me Later’s outro sounds like he crafted it during the Shock Value sessions. Since Drake’s amateur lyrics make you feel you’re listening to Room For Improvement, this is hardly surprising. I guess you have to start somewhere. It’s just too bad that he didn’t substitute “9AM In Dallas” for this mess. Then, Thank Me Later would’ve ended with one of the best curtain calls on a debut album in modern rap history.

7. “The Calm”

Album: So Far Gone (2009)
Producer: 40

For those of you who are confused: “Brand New” was a bonus track on the original So Far Gone, “Congratulations” was tacked on as a bonus track on the 10th-anniversary edition of the mixtape, and “Outro” isn’t deserving of being considered a legitimate outro. That leaves us with “The Calm,” which sounds like the official closer to Drake’s breakthrough mixtape. The rapping is sub-par, and the production is brooding, but there’s no denying that it sets the tone for the mixtape, if not Drake’s career.

6. “Views”

Album: Views (2016)
Producer: Boi-1da, Maneesh, 40

After bringing his A-game to three straight album outros (“The Ride,” “Paris Morton Music 2,” “Legend”), Drake underwhelmed the masses with Views’ half-ass closing statement. The beat was on point, as Drake’s tag-team of OVO super-producers 40 and Boi-1da cooked up a beautiful soul chop of The Winan’s “The Question Is.” Even so, The Boy must’ve entered the booth with a severe lack of focus. Sounding unmotivated, he throws lazy lines out like, “I keep it 100 like I’m runnin’ a fever.”

5. “March 14”

Album: Scorpion (2018)
Producer: T-Minus, Josh Valle

It’s too bad we’ll never know how “March 14” would’ve been received had it been how Drake revealed his kid to the world. Just imagine the alternate reality where, on the closing track to the biggest commercial album of his career, Drake drops his son on us in the opening lines, rapping:

Yesterday morning was crazy / I had to come to terms with the fact that it’s not a maybe / That shit is in stone, sealed, and signed / She not my lover like Billie Jean, but the kid is mine.

4. “6PM In New York”

Album: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015)
Producer: Boi-1da

“6PM In New York” represents the absolute peak of Drake’s career. February 2015, five months before the ghostwriting rumors and the beef with Meek Mill. When his approval rating was at an all-time high. Nearly five years on, it remains the moment when The Boy appeared to be invincible. Drake wasn’t just sitting atop the throne; he was comfortable enough to throw barbs at all of his enemies without showing the slightest remorse. He’s never sounded this cocksure of his status in the rap game, which makes “6PM In New York,” if not the best, then undoubtedly the most fascinating outro in his catalog.

3. “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2”

Album: Nothing Was the Same (2013)
Producer: Boi-1da, Jordan Evans

If you remain unconvinced that Drake knew Nothing Was the Same would serve as his official coronation, look no further than the tracklist. It’s no coincidence that the album’s only rap feature is none other than the GOAT, JAY-Z. It was all part of Drake’s calculated master plan, which would culminate with a torch-passing moment on Nothing Was the Same’s curtain call.

While “Pound Cake” is the more iconic of the two parts, the closer’s second half, “Paris Morton Music 2,” is when Drake ascends the throne. He opens his sprawling, 32-bar verse, informing listeners that he’s done apologizing for passing up his idols. He then revisits every critique ever thrown at him by his predecessors.

2. “Do Not Disturb”

Album: More Life (2017)
Producer: Allen Ritter, Boi-1da, 40

The shoulder chip noticeably absent on Views returned on More Life’s curtain call, “Do Not Disturb.” The heart-wrenching sample (courtesy of Boi-1da) brought back “The Ride” vibes, setting the stage for Drake to come correct.

Over three-plus minutes, Drake reflects on the backlash following his last release, but not before reminding us of his spotless resume. (“I’d probably self-destruct if I ever lose, but I never do”). He foreshadows the personal news that would accompany his next album rollout; then, finally, he teases his return (“Takin’ summer off, ’cause they tell me I need recovery / Maybe gettin’ back to my regular life will humble me / I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary”).

1. “The Ride”

Album: Take Care (2011)
Producer: Doc Mckinney, The Weeknd

“The Ride” wasn’t the first time Drake grappled with the trappings of fame. By then, he’d mulled over the idea on a handful of songs. But, whereas on So Far Gone’s “Say What’s Real” and the 2010 loosie “Paris Morton Music,” he remains optimistic facing the pressures of celebrity brought on by his sudden rise, Take Care’s closing statement finds him trepidatious and jaded.

On “The Ride,” Drake delivers the first two verses in the second person, arguing that us mere mortals can’t understand how his success has him feeling so alienated. He details his current situation of fame and fortune, rapping from a position worthy of dinners at French Laundry in Napa Valley, where the maître d' treats you like a king and puts the cloth across your lap as soon as you sit down.

In the second verse, Drake takes listeners back to his pre-fame days; a time when he would steal his mom’s debit card and drive around in overpriced rental cars to maintain an image. 

Then, in the final verse, he switches back to the first person and concludes the best album of his career with a warning shot:

I’m out here messing over the lives of these n****s that couldn’t fuck with my freshman floater / Look at that fucking chip on your nephew's shoulder / My sophomore, I was all for it, they all saw it / My junior and senior will only get meaner, take care, n***a.

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