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July 16th, 2018

The Mr. Smith Playlist, Vol. 32: Essential Drake

The Mr. Smith Playlist, Vol. 32: Essential Drake Top Image

Here’s the deal: I’m a straight up Drake Stan. I have been for a while now. Since his second mixtape – before he hit the radio. Why do I feel the need to justify my fanhood to you? Well, because that’s the culture we live in today. As soon as something becomes popular, it’s uncool. And I feel the need to tell you I liked it before it was mainstream, in order to prove my coolness.

However, explaining why I like Drake isn’t the purpose of this post (and playlist). This post is for people who fall into one of the three categories below.

  1. Anyone who is entirely unfamiliar with his music (I understand this group is small).
  2. People who are familiar with him, but only his radio hits (very few of those are on this playlist).
  3. Haters. You’re number three on this list, but the most important audience in my mind. I’m interested in converting you. Will you let me try?

Before you listen, please note the following disclaimer: I hear a lot of Drake-haters saying they dislike him because he sings and raps. They say things like, “Pick one” or “You can’t do both.” I’d agree with these criticisms if he didn’t do both well. But he does. And this isn’t subjective. Singing ability is certainly measurable. He has it. And lyrical ability – well, that’s also measurable. You just have to listen. As he raps in 4pm in Calabasas
(a track you can find on iTunes only):

‘Mike [Michael Jackson] never tried to rap like Pac,
Pac never tried to sing like Mike.’
Those my dad’s words to me
When I asked him how to make it in life.

Good advice, Dennis. So, I told you who this playlist is for. Now, let me quickly tell you what you’ll find on it.

  1. The last song from nearly every studio album. This track is always straight fire. In fact, on his 2017 release, More Life, he touched on this in none other than the last track, Do Not Disturb:

Last verse that I gotta do is always like surgery
Always trying to let go of anything that’ll burden me
That’s the reason you can feel the tension and the urgency
Last chance I get to make sure that you take it personally
Take this shit to heart, it’s always executed perfectly

2. Three feature tracks (tracks that appear on other artist’s albums and feature Drake). I don’t want to debate the value of features. I love them. They’re always the first tracks I listen to when an artist I’m peripherally interested in drops an album. They’re also good for hip-hop as a genre for that very reason – they help up-and-coming artists get their music out to a larger crowd.

3. Two songs from Drake’s latest release, Scorpion. Please note, however, that I wrote this before the album was officially released, so I’ve had to amend the post and playlist to reflect his entire catalog of music. And though I’ve listened to the album several times, it’s incredibly difficult for me to pick what I consider to be “essential pieces” from such a large body of work without giving it time. However, I did my best.

Unfortunately, my all-time favorite Drake track is still unavailable on Spotify under any account. It’s called November 18th and it’s from the original So Far Gone mixtape which included 18 tracks before it was cut down to seven and re-released as an EP. Check out the track here.

Okay. I’m done. Now, go listen if you want.

As I’m sure you noticed, I didn’t even touch the recent beef with Pusha-T, who I respect and enjoy as an artist. However, this beef is in the past, and in my opinion, we’re all better for it. It wasn’t moving in a good direction. But that’s a discussion for another day. Future podcast topic maybe?

Update 12:58 PM ET, Wed March 6, 2019: On February 15, Drake released the original 18-song So Far Gone mixtape, including November 18th, the song I mentioned above, and it is now available on Spotify. So, we have added it to the playlist for your listening enjoyment.