Drake’s Hardest Verses, Ranked (An Absurdly Detailed Investigation)


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In hip-hop, certain storylines get established, and once they're cemented in the public's consciousness, they're almost impossible to get out. Macklemore is a sell out, J. Cole is boring, and Drake is soft; those are the lenses that almost everything they do get filtered through. Of course, these storylines have a basis in truth, but just how true are they really? 

Especially in light of LintRollerGate and even Katy Perry calling Drake softer than a kitten's vagina, we thought we'd continue our Absurdly Detailed Investigations series by tackling one of the game's biggest storylines, Drake's softness. Now, of course there's truth to the idea that Drake's more than dabbled in the art of heartbreak, of fucking course. But is his soft rep really justified? What percentage of his verses could be considered "hard"? 

So we listened to (basically) every Drake verse ever, from this album cuts to freestyles to guest verses, from "So Far Gone" to the most recent "Days in the East", and selected the cuts that could even be considered hard. We then ranked them on a scale from 1-3 Wheelchairs. In "Degrassi", a gun shot wound put him in a wheelchair, and what's harder than being in a wheelchair off a shooting? Clearly 3 Wheelchairs is as hard as it gets, while 1 Wheelchair denotes a song that's just barely in the hard ballpark. 

Now, there's obviously some subjectivity at play here, this is music not WHIP, but our sample size is big enough that I think it provides a pretty accurate look at Aubrey's career. And for the record, we're defining "hard' as "a song that you'd pick as your walk out music if you were a boxer." In other words, something that truly gets you feeling like you're ready to go to battle. 

I'll turn things over to my partner Lucas for the details, then be back to break things down. Let's do it...

"A.M. 2 P.M."
 


Kind of a different vibe on this one. Drake is a little more laid-back, but his flow is still very strong. Almost like this young, pure rappin' Drake better; he really kills this one.

Best Line: "You think it's funny till these youngings suck a bunny/Pull the jackrabbit out and get to screamin' where the money at?!"

Rating: 1 Wheelchair

"I'm Going In"
 


Something always feels off about Drizzy's voice on this, but regardless he still goes in...oh now I get it.

Best Line: "Making hoes wobble like bridge in an earthquake"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"Forever"
 


I know Eminem just eats this shit whole, but I've always thought Drake did damn good job.

Best Line:"Last name Ever, first name Greatest/Like a sprained ankle, boy I ain't nothing to play with"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"November 18th"


This one may raise an eyebrow or two, especially because he mostly sings, but something about this song gets me amped. It has a gritty(ish) southern, UGK vibe to it which gives it a little more kick. Plus his chopped and screwed flow is kind of cool. This is low-key hard (that's what she said).

Best Line: "Cause pussy's only pussy and I get it when I need it"

Rating: 1 Wheelchair

"Uptown"
 


I know it has nothin to do with Drake, but this beat fucking knocks. Drake doesn't go all the way in, and sings a little, but still it's a pretty solid effort.

Best Line: "And shawty wanna party, so don't let yo' girl up out the house/Or there'll be shots on TMZ of me givin' her mouth-to-mouth"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Over"


Definitely one of Aubrey's hardest, most determined verses. Hard to believe this is the same guy who brings lint rollers to NBA games; fucking epic.

Best Line: "I could teach you how to speak my language, Rosetta Stone"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"5 AM in Toronto"


Drake rappin his ass off here. Definitely one of his hardest; no bullshit jsut straight rap.

Best Line: "Give these niggas the look, the verse, and even the hook/That's why every song sound like Drake featuring Drake"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"Draft Day"
 


After getting clowned by Jay, you could tell Drake was on a mission.Still, he sounds pretty relaxed on this verse, his lyrics are pretty hard, but the delivery is a little to casual considering.

Best Line: "Signin' off on more deals than a lawyer with a heavy case load/How the game turn into the Drake show?"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Who Do You Love"


Drake couldn't come with that soft shit on a YG track. Not his best lyrical work, but he brings the attitude.

Best Line:"I would pinky swear but my pinky ring too big"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Started From The Bottom"


Personally I fucking hate this song, but Drizzy is on a mission. Still feels like a little something is missing; no big one liners.

Best Line: "There ain't really much out here, that's popping off without us"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Trophies"


Drake had me, and then he did that weird shouting, deep-voiced flow thing and it lost me. It's like he was trying to be harder than normal and it didn't work.

Best Line: "This a fuck a stripper on a mink rug song"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Worst Behavior"


We made fun of Drake's worst behavior, but truth is the really does get all wild on this one with a much more determined flow than usual. Been bumping this cut for sometime now and it still hasn't gotten old. Drake really goes in.

Best Line: "Flexin'! N*gga, I'm just flexin'"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"Live For"


You might not expect a Weeknd and Drake collab to be hard, but this one is pretty fuckin' epic. Drake could have easily sung about his prom date that left him for the captain of the football team, but he goes in.

Best Line: "Roll up in that thing, got hoes like Prince, but they know I'm king"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Ignant Shit"


Totally forgot about this song, but it might be one of his best; man is on point.

Best Line: "But I never get attracted to fans/Cause the eager beaver could be the collapse of a dam"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"Right Above It"


Sometimes I wonder if it's Drake or the beat that makes it really knock; this is definitely one of those times.

Best Line: "This that Slum Dog Millionaire Bollywood flow"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"Fed Up"


This loses points for being so damn short, but it's not a bad few bars.

Best Line: "Niggas dedicatin' overtime to damagin' my name/And somehow I'm still the hottest motherfucker in the game"

Rating: 1 Wheelchair

"Fancy (Remix)"


I know Drake rapping about a girl is sort of a deal-breaker on these "hard" verses" but this is an exception. I love how crisp and tight his verse is; one of his best ones ever so I had to include it. Also it's the remix because Mary J. Blige.

Best Line: "Long as they got a little class like half days"

Rating: 1 Wheelchair

"Stay Schemin"


This is the hardest of the hard when it comes to Drake verses. I wont even mention French Montana but Drizzy takes the spotlight over Rick Ross who is by no means soft. Drake calls someone a pussy!

Best Line:"I'm just hittin my pinnacle, you and pussy identical/You like the fucking finish line, we can’t wait to run into you"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"Shit (Remix)"
 


I see you Trap Drizzy. Do I detect a shot back at Pusha-T? Arguably his hardest verse to date.

Best Line:"Fuck n*ggas gon' be fuck n*ggas/That's why we never give a fuck when a fuck n*gga switched up"

Rating: 3 Wheelchairs

"Lord Knows"
 


At points, the bars are a little soft (Drake going through a girls phone is some real Drake shit), but he comes with some fire here; would have liked a little more fire in the belly though.

Best Line: "I know that showin' emotion don't ever mean I'm a pussy/Know that I don't make music for niggas who don't get pussy/So those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs

"City Is Mine"
 


This beat is annoying as fuck but this is about the beat. As for Drake, it may be a little rough around the edges, but I like this style better because it's less gimmicky. Not exactly hard, but still impressive; don't know how people can say he can't spit.

Best Line: "I'm like a waiter and you something like a hater/With trays in both hands, place an order I can cater"

Rating: 1 Wheelchair

"Light Up"
 


If it weren't for the sung hook, this might have been a three wheelchair contender...

Best Line:"And I'm just filling up this daily planner Getting busy cause I'm a star, no spangled banner"

Rating: 2 Wheelchairs



----------------------------

And I'm back. I literally made Lucas spend the last two days listening to every Drake song he could find, right now his brain is pouring out his ears. We'll give that man a minute to recover. 

Also:

Songs that we could have included: "No Lie," "Jodeci (Freestyle)," "More Milli," "Pop That," and "Fucking Problems." If enough people say we need to throw those in as well, I'll update. 

Stats

Of course, this is only the first step in what would have to be a much longer process if we truly wanted to figure out Drake’s HPS (Hardness Per Song) average. Assuming he’s done approximately 150 total songs (57 on his albums and compilations albums, plus at least 82 guest verses and freestyles, plus some I'm sure we're missing), we’d still need to do a rundown of his softest material. By subtracting his hardest and softest songs from his total songs, we could determine his middle-ground material (I’d consider something like "HYFR" a middle ground song, perfectly in between "Marvin’s Room" and "Worst Behavior"), and then get the truest sense of his catalog.

That’s a shit ton of work though. You’re gonna have to give us a moment to regain some semblance of sanity before we get to it. 

Closing Notes

Let's return to our original question: Is Drake's rap as the softest rapper alive deserved? As I just laid out, it's a little hard to answer that question without an even more in-depth look at his entire catalog, but I will say that going through this has given me a deeper appreciation for Drake's banger abilities, he does have it in him. Still, I also feel even more confident in saying that comparatively, he's also nowhere near the hardest rapper alive. If we were to create that same imaginary stat, HPS, for every rapper in the game, Drake would probably be somewhere around the middle of the pack, at most. (Follow up question, who would have the highest HPS in rap?)

And that's fine. I don't turn to Drake's music to get me pumped to commit an armed robbery, that's why sweet baby Jesus invented Killer Mike. Even if it's not completely true, Drake is soft jokes are just too much fun for me to stop, but that also doesn't stop me from saying I've listened to "Worst Behavior" more than a couple times. Who knows, I might just get hyped up off a Drake song and catch a body like that. 

Lists on Ranker

[Nathan Slavik is the managing editor of DJBooth.net. He has a beard. This is his Twitter. Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth. He does not have a beard. This is his Twitter.]

This article originally appeared on RefinedHype.com, which has now merged with The DJBooth. For more info, click here.

Drake   Absurdly Detailed Investigations   RefinedHype  

Written by Lucas G. on 04/30/14


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