In 2021, rapper Drake released Certified Lover Boy, his first studio album in three years. The album is jam-packed with collaborations with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. While some of the tracks were a massive hit, others were more a swing and a miss. We’ve ranked the 21 songs on the album from best to worst.
1. Knife Talk
Sampled around Feed The Streets, Drake’s 13th track, Knife Talk, shows the rapper teaming up with 21 Savage and Project Pat.
It has proved to be one of the album’s best tracks, peaking at the top of the R&B and the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Knife Tale is widely considered the most skillful track on Certified Lover Boy, featuring the rapper at his spitting best, with an aggressive energy that outstrips anything else on the same album.
The song was originally intended for 21 Savage before being given to Drake.
2. Champagne Poetry
Drake comes out strong with the opening track Champagne Poetry, a song about his legacy as one of the top rappers in the industry. He samples both Navajo by Masego and Michelle by the Beatles (the latter also making its way into the lyrics with the repeated chorus of “I love you, I love you”).
Musically, the track also hearkens back to some of his earlier work, notably 2014’s Tuscan Leather. It’s an eclectic gathering of musical influences that together make for one of the best tracks on the album.
Drake and Kid Cudi once had bad blood, but it’s all water under the bridge now, as their collaboration on IMY2 would suggest. The song, whose title means “I miss you too,” is a look both back and forward at the same time.
Drake and Cudi bask in their success and reflect on how their musical career helps them find themselves. The song also samples the late rapper Juice WRLD, who died from a drug overdose in 2019 at the age of 21 (he was also a close friend of Kid Cudi).
4. Way 2 Sexy
Everyone has heard the classic early 90s I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred, the song that Drake samples in his collaboration with Future and Young Thug. The track is intended to be a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek paean of self-praise while diving into tropes of toxic masculinity, such as ghosting women and attracting gold diggers.
Some people found it over the top, but there is no denying this track’s appeal, particularly with its humorously exaggerated music video (which earned the rappers a nomination for a BET Award for Video of the Year).
For Fountains, Drake teamed up with Nigerian singer Tems. The Afrobeats-infused track was praised for its musical elements and energy, with a more upbeat, positive feel than many of the album’s other tracks.
This energy makes it so infectiously catchy, with critics calling it one of the best songs on the album. The song is about having intense feelings for a person and willing them to give you a chance to prove yourself. Its unique musical style and beat make it stand out as a highlight of Certified Lover Boy.
6. Love All
There is no doubt that Drake and Jay-Z are two giants of the hip hop industry, but their collaboration on Love All isn’t a brag track. Instead, it reflects their careers as two men who are now older and wiser. They have been in the game so long; they’ve achieved the status of battleground leaders who know all the rules to survive. If anyone knows those, it’s definitely these two whose careers have endured since the last millennium.
7. You Only Live Twice
It’s truly amazing to see the number of stars that Drake managed to pack on this album. You Only Live Twice is a three-way rap battle between Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne, albeit good-natured.
Each artist holds their own in the battle, but fans seem to think that Lil Wayne is the pack’s leader in this fast-paced track. That’s a matter of opinion, of course—it’s hard to choose between these three rap kings, each of whom brings a fresh and unique performance in his verse.
8. The Remorse
As the final track on the album, The Remorse is an extended, pensive finale that will leave you pondering life. At six minutes, it is one of the longer tracks on the album. It features Drake again taking the persona of a seasoned rapper who is older and wiser, sharing advice for up-and-coming hip hop artists.
He also expresses his gratefulness for the people who have supported his career and ponders his future. The Remorse is Drake leaving his audience on a heavy note that will keep them reflecting on these themes for a long time.
TSU generated some controversy due to Drake’s sampling of a remix of the R. Kelly song Half on a Baby.
The song is a shoutout in part to Houston, the home of Texas State University from which the song gets it title. TSU is about a former stripper who is trying to start a business and start a respectable career, but finds it difficult to leave her past behind. Drake feels for her, since she has no family support, and wants to give her the help she needs.
10. Pipe Down
Not all of Drake’s songs on Certified Lover Boy are positive self-reflection. Pipe Down might be the most somber track on the album, with the rapper reflecting on heartbreak and the breakdown of a relationship plagued by lies and misunderstanding. It seems that there is no saving it now, despite all his efforts.
The song also features Drake’s insecurities about his fame as he worries that his partner only wants him for his money and celebrity, showing one of the downsides of living life in the spotlight.
11. No Friends In The Industry
No Friends In The Industry features Drake hitting back at his fellow rappers who have sought beef with him over the years. Though he is at the top of the hip hop industry, he seems to be the subject of frequent call-outs and disses, including rappers such as Kanye West, Meek Mill, Chris Brown, Common, Ludacris, and many others.
It’s a bitter track that Drake seems to know will invite even more conflict—but he’s willing to risk it to tell the world what he really thinks about these rappers.
12. 7am On Bridle Path
The feud between Drake and Kanye West has been long and legendary, featuring plenty of diss tracks and social media callouts. 7am On Bridle Path is the latest in Drake’s AM/PM tracks, an open criticism of West that doesn’t pull any punches.
He makes a reference to West posting Drake’s personal address on Instagram and mocks the other rapper’s sponsorships, accusing him of being aging and irrelevant. The song was oddly prophetic, as the following year would see West lose those sponsorships and his rap god reputation after he expressed anti-Semitic sentiments.
13. Papi’s Home
You have to give it to Drake—he knows his own worth as a hip hop industry giant. In Papi’s Home, he boastfully owns his reputation as a father figure to other less experienced rappers in a track that is both impressive and dismissive all at once.
Layered over a Montell Jordan sample, the track also uses clips of Nicki Minaj to throw even more shade at the artists that Drake clearly sees as little fish.
14. Fair Trade
Fair Trade is a bumping trap track featuring Travis Scott. The two rappers alternate verses, each one sending a distinctly different message: while Scott boasts about his fame and fortune, Drake bemoans “fake friends” who want to use him for his connections.
The song’s title comes from his conclusion that trading those friendships for peace of mind and freedom from people who use him seems like a fair trade. Drake has long spoken about insincere friendships in his songs; in 2013’s Started From The Bottom, he lashes out at people who promised support and never showed.
Recommended: Songs about fake friends
15. Race My Mind
An early version of Race My Mind was leaked earlier in 2021. But it still felt like a surprise when it was released on the album, with a more fleshed-out version that felt whole more than the leaked version.
The song reflects on a failed relationship, betraying some of the insecurities and fears that the rapper faces in his personal life. It is a surprisingly vulnerable track that Drake quickly ties up with a boastful final verse as if to distract from the feelings he has already shared.
16. Get Along Better
Get Along Better features Ty Dolla $ign in a track about dating your ex’s friend. A situation like that is bound to lead to drama, but Drake is quick to reassure her that there is no ulterior motive and he’s not doing it to get back at her. There is no telling how she might have responded to these promises, however. Maybe we will get a part two with her response on the rapper’s next album.
17. N 2 Deep
Certified Lover Boy’s 8th track sees Drake teaming up for a second collaboration with Future. The song peaked at No. 12 on the US charts but was incredibly popular in certain parts of Europe. N 2 Deep follows the rapper on a wild night in a club. At the beginning of the night, he is sober and attempting to catch a woman’s interest by explaining what a good guy he is. However, as the night goes on, he starts saying things he doesn’t mean and realizes he’s in too deep.
18. Yebba’s Heartbreak
Yebba’s Heartbreak is the only track on the album that qualifies as a love song in any sense of the term. This collaboration with singer YEBBA is a jazzy declaration of love in which Drake takes a supporting role, letting the singer take the lead. The track serves as an interlude, a typical feature of Drake’s albums, in which he features another artist and does not provide his own vocals.
19. Girls Want Girls
In Girl Want Girls, Drake joins forces with rapper Lil Baby in a somewhat misguided show of support for lesbians. The infectiously catchy trap song has a good beat, but the lyrics garnered criticism for what was described as fetishism. They included Drake attempting to seduce a lesbian in an attempt to “turn” her and even the rappers describing themselves as lesbians, too (meaning that they’re attracted to women). Apparently, no press is bad press, as Girls Want Girls peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
20. In The Bible
In The Bible sees Drake teaming up with Lil Durk and Giveon in a song that goes in many different directions. In some ways, the song is a grateful ode to the women in their lives who have stayed by them. It also features brags about sexual conquests, references to religion and fatherhood, and going viral on social media. The lyrics are a bit confusing but it didn’t stop the song from hitting the Billboard charts at No. 7.
21. F-cking Fans
Certified Lover Boy has a running theme of reflecting on past mistakes and trying to make amends. In F-cking Fans, Drake turns an age-old hip hop trope bragging about sleeping with fans—into a melancholy track of regret.
Though other rappers have habitually boasted about it, Drake finds that his sexual encounters with fans have negatively affected his meaningful relationships and regrets that he spent time focusing on them rather than paying attention to people he cared about.
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