2014 has been a shitty year for rap albums. With about 10 weeks left in the year, if a slew of quality mixtapes or albums (same difference) don’t emerge this might go down as one of the worst years in recent rap history. But there’s still hope since music releases tend to pick up toward the end of the year, as recent albums from Run the Jewels, T.I., and Logic all prove. Plus, just because there haven’t been a lot of great albums, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot of great music.
 

Case in point: Drake dominated conversation throughout the year by consistently releasing great songs—even though his next album, Views From the 6, won’t drop until spring 2015. In fact, if you add up all of this year’s Drake songs, you’d get the rap album of the year.

Drake’s remixes, guest spots, and random SoundCloud cuts have become as vital a part of Drake's catalog, just like how Lil Wayne's remixes, guest spots, and mixtape cuts are a vital part of his (as anyone who's been to Drake vs. Wayne Tour can tell you). Drake has consistently made great songs that never made it onto his first three albums. Before he even dropped his debut album, Thank Me Later, in 2010 he already had under-the-radar gems like the Nipsey Hussle-assisted “Killer,” “You Know, You Know,” and the supremely under-appreciated “The Winner.”

Drake’s remixes, guest spots, and random SoundCloud cuts have become as vital a part of Drake's catalog, just like how Lil Wayne's remixes, guest spots, and mixtape cuts are a vital part of his. 

Still, it wasn’t until his second album, 2011’s Take Care, that Drake truly tapped into his talent. Songs like “Club Paradise” and “Dreams Money Can Buy” rank amongst Drake’s best, yet he didn’t even include them on his sophomore set. Meanwhile, he gave away one of 2011’s best songs, “I’m on One,” to DJ Khaled.

From there, he must have started feeling charitable as he spent most of 2012 tearing down guest spots for 2 Chainz (“No Lie”), Rick Ross (“Stay Schemin”), A$AP Rocky (“Fuckin’ Problems”), and French Montana (“Pop That”). Despite the title of his third album, 2013’s Nothing Was the Same, he routinely did the same thing last year—effortlessly spazzing on “5 AM In Toronto” before dropping one of 2013’s best verses on a remix to Migos’ “Versace” and casually releasing “The Motion.” But this year the sheer volume of quality music he’s released is impressive (even for him) since he’s not even promoting an album.

If his output this year has made anything clear, it’s that he’s brimming with confidence. Years ago, on “Headlines” Drake rapped about being “too strung out on compliments, overdosed on confidence,” which once sounded like a clever opening salvo but now sounds more like a lifestyle. After killing the rap game for five straight years, releasing three platinum albums, scoring dozens of Billboard hits, and building more momentum with loosies than most rappers can with entire album rollouts, he’s running circles on the rap game.

On “Draft Day” he wonders, “How the game turn into the Drake show?” On “Trophies” he raps about having “nothing left to prove.” He proclaims “If I ain't the greatest then I'm headed for it” on “0-100” before recalling his friend Lavish Lee telling him he’s all people listen to on “The Catch Up.” He takes time out on “We Made It” and “How About Now?” to bitterly dismiss his past critics who didn’t think he’d ever reach these heights. He doesn't sound arrogant either: He's undoubtedly one of, if not the, best rappers alive, and he's got the music to prove it. Every time he adds another loosie banger to his already expansive catalog it's akin to being in the lead and popping a wheelie. 

With all these great Drake songs scattered across our laptops and phones in an ungodly mess of ID tags and uneven bitrates, we went ahead and pulled them together to make the Drake album we all wish he’d drop already. We kept the album at just 12 songs, but included some bonus cuts. Granted, our bootleg “album” has more of a mixtape feel and fails to achieve the overarching tone of Drake’s last two albums, but we worked with what we had.

“Draft Day”—what with its Lauryn Hill sample—simply felt like the proper way to open a Drake album. But rather than go the typical Drake route and have the second song be a slow-moving, down-and-out anthem, we kept it turning up with “Trophies.” (Sidebar: When I listen to Take Care I move "Shot for Me" to the end and have "Club Paradise" and "I’m on One" as track two and three. You should too.) We tried to keep things more lively on the first half, made “0-100” the centerpiece and kept it away from the similarly sounding “Believe Me.” The second half is admittedly weaker, so we gave it some heft with “Tuesday” and “How Bout Now.” “We Made It” just felt like the proper closer. So here you have it, the Drake album you know you want, which you can stream below. We're not mad calling it Previews From the 6, but we prefer 6 God. [*prayer hands emoji*]

1. “Draft Day”
2. “Trophies”
3. “6 God”
4. “2 On/Thotful”
5. “Believe Me” f/ Lil Wayne
6. “Who Do You Love” f/ YG
7. “0-100/The Catch-Up”
8. “Days in the East"
9. “Tuesday (Remix”) f/ iLoveMakonnen
10. “Recognize” f/ PartyNextDoor
11. “How Bout Now”
12. “We Made It”

“Heat of the Moment” (Bonus)
“DnF” f/ P. Reign (Bonus)
“Grindin” f/ Lil Wayne (Bonus)
Odio f/ Romeo Santo (iTunes Bonus)