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Happy Birthday, Drake! 30 Essential Songs for Aubrey's 30th

October's Very Own himself has blessed us with so many jams

Drake's album covers

Ever since his first mixtape dropped over a decade ago, Drake's been on a steady trajectory toward the top. To celebrate The Boy's 30th birthday, here's a flawless 30-song playlist.

1 / 30

"Sneakin'" feat. 21 Savage

Release: October 2016, More Life single

Drake's 30th birthday present to himself? A night hosting his OVO Sound radio show on Beats 1, announcing a new December '16 project, More Life, and dropping two tracks. "Fake Love" is fun, but "Sneakin'"—featuring one of Atlanta's hottest rappers du jour, and a close collaborator of What a Time to Be Alive soundsmith Metro Boomin—is the one that really blows out the candles. –Zach Dionne

2 / 30

"30 for 30 Freestyle"

Released: September 2015, What a Time to Be Alive

This one's just a no-brainer. –Zach Dionne

3 / 30

"Tuscan Leather"

Released: September 2013, Nothing Was the Same

Pressing play on NWTS was a scary, exciting moment. Could Drake secure his hold on the rap game? Could he top Take Care? Was it all or nothing, accomplish both or accomplish neither? The questions got mute-buttoned as soon as "Tuscan Leather" dropped into that grandiose Noah "40" Shebib beat built on a skippy, chipmunk'd Whitney Houston sample. Then it revealed itself as a six-minute three-act play starring a version of Drake we'd never seen before, one threatening to "go a hour on this beat, n---a." 

"Tuscan Leather" had enough show-stopping lyrics to fill a full album. Probable winner? "Ay, B, I got your CD, you get a E for effort." Unless it's "degenerates, but even Ellen love our shit." –Zach Dionne

4 / 30


Released: February 2009, So Far Gone

Leave it to Drake to get poetic about a stripper. Calm, atmospheric and quintessentially 40, “Houstatlantavegas” has Drizzy soul-searching from the perspective of an exotic dancer torn between living the lifestyle and wanting more—the 1’s that keep her coming back are the same 1’s needed to get her out. If the subject matter doesn’t intrigue you, the execution will. –Tina Xu

5 / 30

"Shot for Me"

Released: November 2011, Take Care

Claiming bragging rights while still exhibiting the emotional vulnerability that we know and love him for, Drake delivers one of his most underrated cuts in “Shot for Me.” Co-written by the Weeknd, the foggy, synth-heavy ballad features Drake boast-singing about his impact on an ex’s life—before admitting that he, too, lost something through the relationship’s failure. –Tina Xu

6 / 30

"Still Here"

Released: April 2016, Views

Views was light on rappity-rap, but "Still Here" is a banger that stands with the banger-iest among Drake's catalog. –Zach Dionne

7 / 30

"Shut It Down" ft. The-Dream

Released: June 2010, Thank Me Later

Why Drake and The-Dream don’t collaborate more often is beyond me. “Shut It Down” seems like a huge mess on first listen until you learn to appreciate the elements that make it great. Drizzy goes from admiring a chick from afar ("Shooting stars all around her, fire, comets/I could bring her through and shut them down, Onyx") to straight-up trying to get in her pants—but in a non-sleazy way, of course. Meanwhile, Mr. Nash softly croons about computers and ice cream in his signature falsetto. Drake, The-Dream, 40 and Omen: the team you never knew you needed. –Tina Xu

8 / 30

"6 Man"

Released: February 2015, If You're Reading This It's Too Late

"Young, but I'm getting every single motherfucking thing I'm owed." When Drake's on one, you're on one. And when he wants to end a song murmuring a classic Erykah Badu refrain, you want to end a song murmuring a classic Erykah Badu refrain. –Zach Dionne

9 / 30

"The Motion" ft. Sampha

Released: June 2013, pre–Nothing Was the Same track

It's a shame this cut from NWTS was only available off the album's Best Buy edition; it has most certainly become an afterthought all too soon. Sampha adds a maturity and eeriness that offset the rapper's sharp verses without overpowering the track itself. The message registers well, too—utter exasperation with someone you can't work things out with, but you don't have the emotional capacity to give a damn anymore. –Tina Xu

10 / 30

"Take Care" ft. Rihanna

Released: November 2011, Take Care

It’s completely radio-friendly with a cosign from Rihanna, it's intensely heart-breaking yet comforting, and it features an undeniably perfect balance of pounding bass drums and scattered piano keys. Easily one of Drizzy’s best. –Tina Xu

11 / 30

"0 to 100 / The Catch Up" ft. James Blake

Released: July 2014, Soundcloud single

"0 to 100 / The Catch Up" might be the biggest flex of Drake's career. Suddenly the guy who smirked that he was "25, sittin' on 25 mil" was letting us know he's only 27 and only getting better—among a seemingly endless string of other promises and unbeatable bars. –Zach Dionne

12 / 30

"Back to Back"

Released: July 2015, single

How good has Drake gotten? He can get hit with tsk-tsking ghostwriting allegations (by fellow name-brand rapper Meek Mill), immediately drop a killer, naptime-ready clap-back, then release a second diss song days later—and have that one somehow effortlessly dominate the summer. "Back to Back," dubbed a freestyle upon launch, became a huge commercial success and one of the summer's highest-quality, hardest-hitting rap songs.

And it came out the same day as "Hotline Bling." That's how good Drake's gotten. –Zach Dionne

13 / 30

"Man of the Year" ft. Lil Wayne

Released: October 2007, Comeback Season

It’s interesting to see how far Drake has come with his rhymes, especially when listening to this throwback gem off his ’07 birthday mixtape. While at times wildly corny in his verses, Drizzy still delivers the sharp wit and bravado we’ve grown accustomed to. Add a catchy, horn-heavy chorus featuring mentor Lil Wayne, and you’ve got a very danceable, don’t-mess-with-my-team hype song. –Tina Xu

14 / 30

"Furthest Thing"

Released: September 2013, Nothing Was the Same

“The furthest thing from perfect, like everyone I know.”

The raw, confessional track off NWTS. While many things have changed since So Far Gone, Drake struggles to convince a past flame that he’s still the same guy dealing with the same emotions and making the same mistakes. But he’s just as quick to embrace his current success as he is to admit his flaws, transitioning to a completely new beat three minutes in, exclaiming, “This the life for me / My mama told me this was right for me.” –Tina Xu

15 / 30


Released: April 2016, Views

Maybe you ride harder for "One Dance" or "Too Good" or "Hotline Bling," but something about "Controlla" gets us moving every time. –Zach Dionne

16 / 30

"Look What You've Done"

Released: November 2011, Take Care

The dualities of Tough Drake/Soft Drake, Poseur/Authentic, Has Bars/Doesn't Have Bars... they fade away with a song like this. The Boy, achingly human here, speaks to a series of relatives who enabled him as a hungry, confused Canadian kid; it's helplessly direct and make-you-weep soulful. The fact that it's delivered in a straight-through, Weezy-ish monotone only boosts its status as a one-of-a-kind Feel the Feelings track. –Zach Dionne

17 / 30

"Big Rings" (with Future)

Released: September 2015, What a Time to Be Alive

December 2013's "Trophies" saw Tough Drake going to a new echelon. "Big Rings," off the Future collaboration mixtape now known as WATTBA, feels like a sequel and an upgrade. Chest-thumping just sounds better when you've got Future Hendrix in the room. –Zach Dionne

18 / 30

"Days In The East"

Released: April 2014, Soundcloud release

Ah, the smoldering Soundcloud single that featured one of Drake’s most unexpected and random name drops. After casually revealing that Erykah Badu made tea for him while dishing out relationship advice, the rapper had everyone wondering if his bars referred to past flame Rihanna, whose single “Stay” is subtly interpolated throughout. Wistful and nostalgic, “Days In The East” is equal parts perplexing and compelling. –Tina Xu

19 / 30

"Worst Behavior"

Released: September 2013, Nothing Was the Same

“Worst Behavior” was the turn up anthem of 2013. It goes so hard that I damn near cried listening to it, yelling “LOOK AT YOU, LOOK AT YOU, AND LOOK AT YOU!” to my imaginary haters. Even if you’re rarely on your worst behavior, this song will make you want to be at your absolute worst. It embodies rebellion, bravado and defiance all at once, forcing even the meekest of listeners to yell, “REMEMBA?! MUTHAFUCKAAA??!” –Tina Xu

20 / 30


Released: February 2015, If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Drake has a way with striking in the night, and If You're Reading This, It's Too Late was his hardest nocturnal swing yet. The after-hours drop opened with Drake woozily declaring himself a legend, then slid straight into "Energy" and its default mode: Swaggering paranoia over maximally awesome minimalist beats, with a full clip full of forever-quotable lines. #codeforthewifiiiiii –Zach Dionne

21 / 30

"Replacement Girl" ft. Trey Songz

Released: October 2007, Comeback Season

Drake’s first-ever music video came in the form of the Trey Songz–assisted “Replacement Girl,” produced by fellow OVO member Boi-1da and, hence, featuring an incredibly catchy, radio-friendly hook. One cannot deny Aubrey’s charm and atypically quick flow that would’ve made Twista proud. And who can say no to early Trigga? –Tina Xu

22 / 30

"Over My Dead Body"

Released: November 2011, Take Care

A perfect introduction to a very-near-perfect sophomore album, one that sets the table for Take Care and just as easily shuffles into any Drizzy playlist—especially the chill ones. –Zach Dionne

23 / 30

"Hold On, We're Going Home"

Released: August 2013, pre–Nothing Was the Same single

Not only did this ‘80s soft pop–influenced song prove that Drake can pull off any sound he wants to, but it also became his highest-charting single since "Best I Ever Had." Self-described by the rapper as "timeless," the Majid Jordan–assisted track features Drizzy at his smoothest, crooning, "I want your hot love and emotion, endlessly."

Swooon. –Tina Xu

24 / 30

"We Made It" ft. Soulja Boy

Released: December 2013, Soundcloud release

How many times is Drake going to write The One Definitive Celebration Song? It's getting ridiculous at this point. –Zach Dionne

25 / 30

"Hotline Bling"

Released: July 2015, single

Pull a single string on "Hotline Bling," and it all comes apart. But there are no strings sticking out from the seamlessly smooth surface. It's a lyrical mishmash full of nonsensical jealousy; it shamelessly vampirizes DRAM's "Cha Cha"; it's got a goofy video. 

And none of that matters, because "Hotline Bling" is the latest ubiquitous Drake crossover hit. It's always magnetic, the way he tosses these off like they're nothing. "You gettin' bodied by a singin' n---a," was a line for Meek Mill this summer, but it's a cocky subtweet to the whole rap game, too. –Zach Dionne

26 / 30


Released: February 2009, So Far Gone

A standout off Drake’s debut project, “Fear” introduced fans to the then-rookie’s trademark vulnerability. Set against horns and sweeping strings, the compelling confessional, which vents about everything from groupies to worrying about the future, set the tone for the entire EP. Whether you’re a casual Drake fan or have followed his career from day one, “Fear” is classic Aubrey. –Tina Xu

27 / 30

"Come Thru"

Released: September 2013, Nothing Was the Same

Easily one of Drake’s catchiest and most brilliant cuts, the contagiously bouncy NWTS bonus track had fans hitting their exes with the “You up?” text. While the song starts off with Drizzy playfully revisiting his past, it suddenly shifts halfway through to a sentimental and vulnerable tone. He wonders why he and this girl haven’t reconnected in so long, asking, “Where have you been?” –Tina Xu

28 / 30

"Know Yourself"

Released: February 2015, If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Lots of Drake songs, the first time around, give you no clue what you're hearing. "Know Yourself" is one. What is a woe? What's the 6, again? Toronto, right? Who's this Jamaican fellow, what is this 30-second interlude? By the time we figured it all out, "runnin'—through the—6—with my WOES!" was the new best Drake chant. –Zach Dionne

29 / 30

"HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)" ft. Lil Wayne

Released: November 2011, Take Care

Weezy and Drizzy have had so much fun on tape, but this might be them having the most fun. They skewer thirsty interviewers and their corny questions; they invent a new acronym on the same LP that gave us YOLO. And like many a Drake track, the video's a pure celebration of the hip hop excellence at its core. –Zach Dionne

30 / 30

"Started from the Bottom"

Released: February 2013, pre–Nothing Was the Same single 

Out of the blue, one cold night in February, Drake blogged a note that started, 

"My good friends, 

It has truly been too long. I assume you're all keeping well and making the most of this year that has been given to us. Today is the day to begin sharing my newest work with you."

It was worth the "I've got an announcement" to-do. An argument could be made for then-20-year-old Mike Zombie's beat tilting the whole hip hop game in a new direction sonically, one that's still echoing hard in 2015. And Drizzy wouldn't find a bigger anthem until he started runnin' through the 6 with his woes. (None of this even touches on the music video, which is a treasure from front to back.) –Zach Dionne

Below, enjoy our Spotify version of 29 Essential Drake Songs for Drake's 29th Birthday, and keep the Aubrey celebration going with:

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