Fans of 6 God will like this new release, which is an homage to Drake’s iconic “AM to PM” series. Drake has been releasing no-hook albums and gorging on instrumentals ever since “9 AM in Dallas,” the first episode of the series, in 2010. He uses these albums to flaunt his muscles and let out his grievances, often directed at specific (and much-discussed) targets. The aforementioned songs are rare and were often not originally released on streaming sites, yet many Drake fans still rank them as among his finest.
The arrival of some of his time stamp recordings, like “6 PM in New York” or “7 AM in Bridle Path,” on a project was planned in advance, while the arrival of others was more like a meteor shower: sudden and devastating. While Drake is finishing up the final dates of his It’s All a Blur Tour with Her Loss partner 21 Savage, “8 AM in Charlotte” arrives on the eve of his upcoming album For All the Dogs, which is expected to finally drop at midnight tonight after several false starts and delays.
Below is a ranking by Billboard of all six songs from Drake’s “AM to PM” EP.
5 A.M. in Toronto (2013)
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Drake had long since stopped being the starry-eyed newbie eager to see his heroes. At this point in his career, he was a savage MC ready to behead his opponents in pursuit of total dominance, despite being at the peak of his skill and having released two Billboard 200 No. 1 albums, including his 2011 sophomore try, Take Care, a throwback to his So Far Gone days. The song “5 AM” is produced to be ominous and gloomy, allowing Drake to fire off bar after bar against his rivals. He revels in his platinum success, noting how every song sounds like “Drake featuring Drake,” while quipping that without him, “The rap game is a bunch of corpses.”
Like LeBron James’s Game 6 performance against the Boston Celtics in 2012, when he scored 45 points and preserved his reputation, “Toronto” was a resounding victory that put an end to any doubts about the player’s greatness. In 2012, Drake already had a lot of success and critical praise, but he needed another lyrical dagger to cement his place as the greatest of all time. Ultimately, this song was the clincher.
6 PM in New York (2015)
Drake’s “New York” is one of his most underappreciated works. His intensity has shifted, but his concentration and aggressiveness are still top-notch. The focus of “New York” is on selflessness and introspection, even as he mocks his Young Money comrade Tyga and takes shots at The Throne. Stratospheric ruminations then launch higher into the stratosphere. The next eight bars are some of Drake’s finest work, showcasing his ability to portray both self-assurance and anxiety.
That’s why I couldn’t sleep last night. Tryna determine what direction I should head. There are times when I wish I could relive my life. To not alter anything but to experience certain things again at midnight, I wonder what’s ahead for me. Is there a limit to how long they’ll keep checking on me? Probably for the rest of time if I don’t go out of my comfort zone. I have a voice for this generation but lack the power to really affect change.
Although Drake enjoys playing the bad guy, he realizes that his generation, in particular, will need help if they are to achieve their goals. Fortunately, Kendrick and Cole have achieved similar success with him.
7 AM on Bridle Path (2021)
Drake and Kanye West’s spat wore everyone out. The Boy was preparing to fire a hail of bullets at Ye and his Good Music gang, which Pusha T led, as early as Scorpion (2018). As his idol-turned-rival tried to shake up the Toronto star by posting his address on Instagram before the release of Drake’s CLB album, “Bridle Path” is perhaps Drizzy’s most stinging effort. “Give that address to your driver; make it your destination. ‘Stead of just a post out of desperation,” he sarcastically told Ye.
Drake’s rhyming structure and level of disdain are both much higher in “Bridle” than in “Dallas.” His metaphors are sharper and more sophisticated, with rhymes like “Clouds are hanging over you now, ’cause I’m reigning supreme” or “If we talkin’ top three, then you have been slidin’ to third like stolen bases.”
8 AM in Charlotte (2023)
For All the Dogs has had a compelling plot throughout. Although Drake and SZA had another No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, “Slime You Out” fell out of the top 10 in its second week and received harsh criticism from critics, most notably Charlamagne Tha God, for its uninspired lyrics. That said, it’s no surprise that Drake altered gears hours before his expected release to rebuild trust in his following.
“Charlotte” is where Drake thrives: a soulful soundtrack with snappy Instagram-worthy comments, just where he excels. In the song’s third stanza, the self-proclaimed “Petty King” draws on his joy for destruction and enters Godfather mode, reminding his foes why beefing with him would always be a lifetime fight. I’ll probably keep a grudge against you people ’til I’m seventy-five,” he adds. “Next thing you know, we tip-toe’ across enemy lines. Diss me so long ago; we made your memory fly. Conspiracy theories start floatin’ ’round like the Kennedy man.”
9 AM in Dallas (2010)
Drake kicked out his timestamp series the night before the release of his highly anticipated first album, Thank Me Later, in 2010. The protagonist of “9 AM in Dallas” is a confident and charismatic 23-year-old on the cusp of superstardom.
Beginning his performance with the upbeat verse “People ask how music is goin’; I heard it pays; I just came off making’ two million in thirty days,” he exudes confidence in his career choice. And despite the confident presentation, he nevertheless reveals his worries by rhyming about the fear of falling short. Later in the song, he wonders, “What if I don’t really do the numbers they predict?/ Considerin’ the fact that I’m the one that they just picked?”
4 PM in Calabasas (2016)
Drake’s “Calabasas” is the fourth installment in his “AM to PM” series, and it has a more jiggy flow from The Boy. Puff’s “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” is updated for the present day instead of his putting his toes into another dark instrumental. Drake celebrates his success by labeling his OVO crew the modern-day Yankees and firing a barrage of disses at Joe Budden and P. Diddy.
Although the lyric may seem like a reach to some (“Their whole demeanor just spells envy; they tryna tempt me”), it was addressed to the “Pump It Up” MC, who eventually produced a multitude of diss songs targeted at Drake. Drake’s troll level went over the roof with his use of Diddy ad-libs (“Take That”) and his reimagining of a Bad Boy classic.