Producer: BlaqNmilD and Murda Beatz
We had Drake fucked up. VIEWS was turgid. More Life was better, but he still didn't see fit to submit it to the Grammys. Then, on the run-up to formally announcing his next proper album after an overdue break, Drake entered the year with Big Thanos Energy on a Y’all Had Me Fucked Up tour of force. It was in the music, most noticeably on “Look Alive,” that he turned his sabbatical into a cynical barb. It was in his actions, when he boldly wrote, “IS ALL I’M DROPPING THIS YEAR,” under a fire alarm. Then he dropped “Nice For What,” and fuck if I didn’t believe him.
Drizzy loves to mean mug and talk tough, and there is nothing more villainous than dropping a hit this ready-made and effortless. Note for note, “Nice For What” might be his most undeniable radio hit to date, and he made it while playing 2K with Murda Beatz, no less! With a classic sample via Murda's seamless “Ex-Factor” flip, simple yet earworm-y bars, and a Big Freedia-indebted bounce infusion, this was the feel-good song of the summer. It was released right on time, in April, as the spring thaw finally set in, before Drake handed his enemies a detonator that turned smooth sailing into choppy waters, inspiring him to make the feel-sad song of the summer. But I digress. Before Drake’s year took a turn and his music turned with it, he was poised to run 2018 with a flawless victory. “Nice for What,” with its least-problematic bars of all Drake Empowerment Records and pitch-perfect video, went from rally song to time capsule. Drake may have stopped feeling good, but the good vibes are still reverberating. —Frazier Tharpe