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How Drake’s Music Has Transformed Over The Years

TheThings logo TheThings 7/2/2022 Abigail Thomas
© Provided by TheThings

Drake has been one of the biggest names in rap music for over a decade. After getting his start on Degrassi: The Next Generation, a Canadian television show about the ups and downs of high school life, Drake transitioned into making music. He first released three mixtapes, Room for Improvement (2006), Comeback Season (2007), and So Far Gone (2009) before signing with a recording company and getting started on his debut album.

Drake is known for transforming his own music as well as altering the rap music scene. The musician has been a crucial voice in support of black women in the music industry. He has also worked to bridge the gap between rapping and singing. Drake is a revolutionary, so here are eight times he has transformed his own music.

Related: Drake Surprises Fans With New Album 'Honestly, Nevermind'

Drake Began With Mixtapes

Before Drake even released his first album, the musician was making waves in the world of rap. These mixtapes, Room for Improvement (2006), Comeback Season (2007), and So Far Gone (2009) were the kickstart of Drake's music career. Lil Wayne was featured in four songs on Drake’s So Far Gone. Their friendship spurred Drake to sign with Lil Wayne’s recording company, Young Money Entertainment. Without these mixtapes, Drake would have had a very different career—maybe even a career in acting after leaving Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Drake recently went back to the mixtape style with his Dark Lane Demo Tapes, which featured fellow artists Chris Brown, Future, Young Thug, Fivio Foreign, Playboi Carti, and Sosa Geek.

Drake Proved The Album Is Not Dead

After hearing his early music releases, fans of the rapper were eager to hear more of Drake’s music. His debut album, Thank Me Later, showcased Drake’s wide range of talent. The album featured Kanye West, with whom Drake has had his ups and downs with. The creation of an album with one cohesive sound did not come until his sophomore album, Take Care. This album dove deeper into R&B, and was highly successful with critics and listeners. "The Motto," a single from Take Care, is actually credited with popularizing the phrase “YOLO.”

What Is 'Radio Rap?'

With the release of Drake’s third studio album, he transformed his sound again. Nothing Was The Same, which dropped in 2013, centered around the concept of “radio rap.” Without losing the sound that made him so popular with Take Care, Drake wanted to make music that was specifically designed to be played on the radio. Songs such as "Started From The Bottom" and "Hold On, We’re Going Home" did just that, and no one could turn on a popular radio channel without hearing his voice.

Related: Ranking Drake's Albums, Based On First-Week Sales

Drake Wants Everyone To Dance To His Music

Drake’s Views in 2016 was another moment of restyling. The album incorporates a dance-like energy, with beats meant to drive a crowd into a frenzy. "One Dance" and "Too Good' bring crowds to their feet. The album also showcased Drake’s versatility when it comes to music, and he was able to reach a new audience with this sound. Drake spoke to Zane Lowe about how he hoped the album would be received, saying “I don’t want you to get it right away… Great music takes a little work. It takes elevating your listening level.”

How Did Drake Pivot Genres?

Though Drake is generally known as a rapper, he has ventured into other genres as well. Despite its label at the Grammys as a rap song, "Hotline Bling" is typically known as a pop hit. Drake also makes it a point to be featured on songs that are not confined in the “rapper” box. He was featured on Yung Bleu’s soul track 'You’re Mines Still" and Bad Bunny’s reggaetón track "MÍA." Drake’s own music dabbles in trap, dancehall, and more. Drake brought UK Drill to the United States, which is no surprise considering his popularity in the UK.

'More Life' Is A Playlist, Not An Album

In this day and age of music, there are already numerous categories an artist must consider when releasing music. They must ask themselves if a collection of songs a demo, a visual album, a retail mixtape, and so on. Drake added to the list when he dubbed More Life a playlist, not an album. More Life came out in the wake of Drake’s biggest hit in Views. He was in the middle of touring for Views, but that didn’t stop the musician from making new music.

His producer, Anthony Paul Jefferies and known as Nineteen85, spoke to Billboard about the project to explain exactly what Drake meant by calling More Life a playlist. He said Drake is “still having so many good ideas that he just wants to put out without making it a big deal. That’s why he’s trying to call it a playlist because he has a bunch of people in a space, hanging out.”

Related: How Much Did Drake Make On 'Degrassi' And What Does He Get In Residuals?

Drake Blends R&B And Party Songs

Drake turned heads when he released Scorpion in 2018, which is essentially two albums smashed into one. This also means it was twice the work! Scorpion is comprised of two sides, one side focusing on R&B while the other side expanded Drake’s party-song repertoire. The album gave listeners one of his most popular songs to date, "God’s Plan." By releasing both genres at once, Drake again changed the game in music and proved one artist can make a variety of music.

'Honestly, Nevermind' Was A Surprise Drop

Drake shocked fans this month by announcing Honestly, Nevermind would be coming out the very next day. The new album showcases Drake’s singing voice, reminding listeners that artists are not limited to the label they are initially given. A rapper does not only need to release rap songs.

This progression can be tracked back to Drake’s early days in music, specifically "Hotline Bling." The single sparked inspiration for Drake to incorporate more singing into his records, and he is attributed with popularizing this style. Honestly, Nevermind is a continuation of Drake embracing rap and singing in his records.

Next: The Truth About Drake's Relationship With Millie Bobby Brown


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