Love him or hate him, Canadian tour de force Drake has made a career from sensing musical shifts and embracing them. On the same project, he has the ability to drop an R&B track full of Instagram caption-worthy lyrics, as well as fire shots at whoever he's currently beefing with (at the moment, it's Kanye West).
He's just released the long-awaited Certified Lover Boy, which is set to feature the likes of Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross and more. Originally scheduled to drop in January, it's his sixth album, and one that's sure to continue his reign as one of the biggest musicians in the world. The album is full of songs like Yebba's Heartbreak and Fair Trade that reflect on past relationships, both romantic and platonic, while tracks like Girls Want Girls will definitely get people talking.
To celebrate the album's release, we've taken a look back at some of Drake's forays into different genres, and the results. Drake's always jumped at the chance to highlight the work of the artists he's enjoying, which has seen him try his hand at a myriad of genres, with generally positive success (depending on who you ask).
Speaking about his tendency to jump from genre to genre on the Rap Radar podcast, Drake rejected any claims of cultural appropriation, because he seeks to work with the biggest names in each genre that he tries. He explains, “Even the definition of ‘appropriating’ a culture is not supporting that culture, doing songs with people deeply rooted in that culture, giving opportunity to people in that culture.
“That’s not appropriating. Appropriating is taking it for your own personal gain and denying that it was ever inspired from this. That’s the true disservice that somebody could do to the UK, to dancehall, to Afrobeats. Any time I embark on one of those journeys, I ensure that I am not only paying all due respects verbally. I make a point to give opportunity to people that I respect.” Of course, you're not going to please everyone - but Drake undoubtedly gets people talking about genres that might otherwise not be heard on a global level.
War - UK Drill
Drake loves UK rap, and more specifically, drill/grime. He's shown love for Skepta's Boy Better Know, and featured Giggs and Skepta on his 2017 mixtape More Life - so he's shown that it's more than a passing interest. On his 2019 track War, he embraces UK drill sounds, calling in AXL Beats to handle production, with AXL Beats helping to bring the sounds of UK drill into the US.
On War, Drake fully embraces the UK sound, even going as far as to put on a UK accent (which he claims is how he really talks). It's a song that showcases just how well Drake can rap when he wants to. The track features on El-Kuumba Tape Vol.1, a collaborative mixtape between OVO’s Oliver El-Khatib and Kuumba International, and we're pretty confident that UK drill Drake will continue to make appearances in the future.
MÍA - Bad Bunny feat. Drake - Reggaeton
Drake just wants to make people happy, and he does this by giving them what they want to hear. Jumping on MÍA with Bad Bunny showcases a couple of things; one, he's completely across the monumental popularity of Latin music, and two, that he really, really wants a huge YouTube hit.
While MÍA didn't quite reach the heights of Despacito, the biggest music video on YouTube, it still racked up 1.2 billion views, as well as being the first time since 2014 that Drake had sung in Spanish. The result? A track that brought together two of the biggest musicians in the world and ended up on playlists everywhere.
One Dance - Dancehall
Dancehall is one of the genres that Drake has embraced consistently over recent years, and One Dance is almost inarguably the biggest track to emerge from this period in Drake's discography. The track, which featured on his fourth album Views, features vocals from Nigerian afrobeats artist WizKid, as well as British singer Kyla.
The track melds together dancehall and afrobeats, and was one of three dancehall singles from Views, alongside Controlla and Too Good. The track was inescapable in 2016 and remains one of the best-selling digital singles of all-time. It's also one of the catchiest Drake songs, so be warned.
Toosie Slide - Trap
Toosie Slide's popularity is in part due to the dance of the same name, created by Atlanta dancer/TikTok star Toosie. Drake sent the track to Toosie to see if he and his crew could create something to match the track. All Toosie got was the hook, according to an interview with GQ, which helpfully states, “Right foot up, left foot, slide / Left foot up, right foot, slide.”
The track is designed for the club (which, given it was released at the start of the pandemic, wasn't the best timing), and it's another example of Drake's foray into trap music. The Toosie Slide is one of the most iconic dances in recent memory, and it's proof that Drake is always looking for innovative ways to market his music.
You're Mines Still - Yung Bleu feat. Drake - Soul
When Drake jumped on the remix of Alabama rapper Yung Bleu's track You're Mines Still, the song became one of Drake's most soulful tracks. It came about after NBA player DeMarcus Cousins reached out to both artists to get them to collaborate, and it's an ode to both musicians' ex-lovers.
The track is a confession, with both artists expressing their inability to move on from failed relationships. Drake isn't always this introspective, and it's a great reminder that despite the braggadocio façade that he often puts on, he's not afraid to reflect on the mistakes he makes.
Hotline Bling - Pop
Hotline Bling is one of the most meme-worthy songs of all time, which almost definitely was by design. The song is infectious, as well as a reminder that when Drake wants to flex his pop muscle, he's almost unstoppable. Only Drake could pull off the dance moves in the video for Hotline Bling and not be embarrassed.
The track, which is produced by frequent collaborator Nineteen85, caused controversy at the Grammys after it was labelled a rap song by the Recording Academy. On his Apple Beats 1 show, Drake explained, “I’m a black artist, I’m apparently a rapper, even though Hotline Bling is not a rap song. The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m black.” You can't argue with the man himself.