Drake has four official studio albums - Thank Me Later, Take Care, Nothing Was The Same and Views - and all but Thank Me Later went 4x Platinum. A Grammy award is the most overrated award in terms of determining a music artist’s success, but he owns three of those as well.
Sometimes he doesn’t even need an album to be successful. He has enough singles he makes throwaway albums for fun (If You're Reading This... and More Life for ex.) His features are the most memorable part of the song like his immortalization of Kobe’s marital status on Stay Schemin. He’s spent a decade perfecting his sound and creating his own lane in music.
He’s the kind of rapper that would get laughed at and completely ignored 15-20 years ago. He’s not rapping about his life in the ‘hood or social issues; he raps about…..his feelings, which is taboo in hip hop (or at least, it was.) Masculinity in hip hop used to be your calling card. Being a rapper meant that you were tough, “hard”, a man’s man and you never, ever talked about your emotional feelings; hell, you didn’t admit that those feelings even existed. Now, expressing that your feelings is more accepted in the genre; not universally but still. Drake isn’t the first rapper to go this route but as far as being widely successful with it, he is a pioneer in that regard.
The sound of hip hop has evolved over time but a lot of fans have not. A lot of hip hop fans are stuck one sound or in one era and not being able to accept how the sound of the world’s youngest genre can still change and not stick to what they like and how they perceive it. So due to that, the criteria for what constitutes a rapper being one of the best, either of all time or of their generation, stays stagnant. There isn’t a heavy emphasis placed on lyricism anymore or how an album is constructed in today’s hip hop scene. Singles and social media presence have taken their place and the rules have been rewritten.
Maybe it’s time we change the criteria for what makes a rapper an all-time great and start discussing if Aubrey Drake Graham fits anywhere in there. Is Drake one of the best rappers ever even if he may not have a clear-cut classic album and the lyricism that hip hop elitists love? Man, I have no idea. I’m just asking the questions here.