14. Drake f/ The Weeknd "The Ride" (2011)
Album: Take Care
Producer: Doc McKinney, The Weeknd
It's all about the perspective. "You won't feel me until everybody say they love you, but it's not love/And your suit is oxblood"—did you catch it? How easily Drake switches from the first-person to the second in the opening bars of "The Ride"? It's such a simple move, to put the listener in the rapper's shoes, but it pays real dividends. In Decoded, Jay-Z talks about how when you rap along to his songs, you become Jay—you inhabit the role. And with so many criticizing Drake for his navel-gazing, letting the listener in on the introspection is key.
"The Ride" is Drake's best rappity-rap song. He doesn't sing. There's no hook beyond the vocalizations from Abel Tesfaye and super-high falsetto about being faded, faded, faded, faded too long. Over two verses, Drake offers a succinct biography, from the early days in Toronto to dinners in the Napa Valley, and some of the coldest declarations of power listeners have ever heard from the MC. "You see a girl and you ask about her." "They put a cloth across your lap soon as you sat down/It's feeling like you own every place you choose to be at now."
And then, in the final verse, he switches back to the first person as he's heading to the Toronto Pearson International Airport with vivid details that pop all the more because of the turn in POV: "I'm driving right up to it now/Make sure you got your coat on/The runway can be cold especially after summer's rolled on." The listener's suddenly riding shotgun; Drake hopes you can stay warm. Meanwhile, he's out here "Messing over the lives of these niggas/That couldn't fuck with [his] freshman floater." —RS