Drake’s career is defined by numbers—the number of records he’s broken, the number of plaques he has, and the countless other accolades he’s stacked up during his decade-long run. Fitting neatly into his ethos of numerology are the songs he labels with a specific time and location.
Drake’s timestamp songs are named after the literal time and place he recorded them, and each track marks a distinct moment in his career. “5am in Toronto” is the moment when he fully embraced becoming The Boy, braggadocious bars and all. “6pm in New York” reflects the smooth transition into his victory lap after sending the industry into a frenzy with the surprise mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. His latest entry, “7am on Bridle Path,” is lit by an ominous backdrop of the bridge between him and Kanye West being set ablaze.
All of the timestamp songs are spicy, and they all come packed with petty messages, ambiguous references, and a lot of bars. With “7am on Bridle Path” continuing the saga, here is my ranking of Drake’s best timestamp songs.
5. “9am in Dallas”
Key line: “Scared for the first time, everything just clicked/ What if I don’t really do the numbers they predict? Considering the fact that I’m the one that they just picked/ To write a chapter in history, this shit has got me sick”
Drake uses his timestamp songs to address something or someone, whether that be specific competitors or the rap game as a whole. However, the series’ inaugural track “9am in Dallas” is a rookie trying to rap away the pregames, with his debut album releasing soon. Recorded just afterThank Me Later had been sent for mastering, “9am in Dallas” marks the point in time when Drake was still a bright-eyed and optimistic artist excited and nervous about what his new career would hold. He hadn’t yet acquired enemies to incite, riches to boast, or trophies to display. It’s a reflection of where his mind was at during the dawn of his dynasty, still unsullied by the industry. The song feels innocent in that way. On “9am in Dallas,” Drake is just trying to figure it all out.
4. “7am On Bridle Path”
Key lines: “And look at the heroes fallin’ from grace in their older ages/ If we talkin’ top three, then you been slidin’ to third like stolen bases” and “Give that address to your driver, make it your destination/ ‘Stead of just a post out of desperation”
The beauty in Drake’s timestamp songs comes from their clever ambiguity. They have this subtle way of letting the subject know the shots are aimed their way, but some disses can still be left up to interpretation. “7am on Bridle Path” marks the latest chapter of Drake’s exhaustingly long feud with Kanye West, and he’s as direct as he could get without overtly dropping his rival’s name. It’s a warning shot aimed at the head where he responds to Ye by calling him delusional, washed up, and crying for attention all in four minutes.
Like much of Certified Lover Boy, “7am on Bridle Path” confirms that Drake is still the petty king who looks forward to buying your most personal belongings when they go up for auction. You leak his address, and he tells you to make it your next destination. You feel insecure about not having the same custom watch as him, and he clarifies that he has two more that are even better. Drake could have easily dropped this as a loosie, like he’s done with his other timestamp songs, but he wanted an audience colosseum-scale. Ultimately, “7am on Bridle Path” is the exclamation point to a game where he was already up 20 points in the closing minutes.
3. “6pm in New York”
Key line: “‘Oh, you tried? It’s so childish calling my name on the world stage/ You need to act your age and not your girl’s age”
After setting the streets on fire with his surprise project, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, the tape’s outro “6pm in New York” is a victory lap. Recorded on the eve of his 28th birthday, the song finds Drake playing Delphi and (once again) reading more of his future out for the world. Unlike the other timestamp songs in his catalog, Drake doesn’t make this one all about himself. Instead, the song marks one of the few times in the rapper’s career where he briefly addresses social inequities. His music is far from political, but when he raps, “How we need protection from those protectin’ the block/ Nobody lookin’ out for nobody,” it at least shows that he’s paying attention to the world outside of his own. It still comes with a touch of spice, with Drake calling out Tyga’s predatory relationship with Kylie Jenner, but overall “6pm in New York” is championship parade music. Even the hook elicits this feeling of embracing everything you’ve managed to achieve. Oh, you gotta love it.
2. “5am in Toronto”
Key line: “Give these niggas the look, the verse, and even the hook/ That’s why every song sound like Drake featurin’ Drake”
Coming off his career-defining second studio album, Take Care, and inching closer to his third, Nothing Was the Same, Drake felt untouchable when he recorded this. “5am in Toronto” is starkly different from its predecessor, “9am in Dallas,” because at this point, Drake actually had something to brag about. With his pinnacle within sight and the club floor still sticky from champagne showers, this song is Drizzy taking three minutes to smell the flowers while simultaneously calling others wilted.
His boasts on “5am in Toronto” hit with more potency because they feel real. The things that Drake had prophesied in his previous projects were coming to fruition, and the folklore he had spun was materializing. When he rapped, “The part I love the most is they need me more than they hate me,” he was right. After getting a taste of rap greatness from his chalice on Take Care, “5am in Toronto” is Drake heralding the beginning of his golden age.
1. “4pm in Calabasas”
Key line: “The higher I get, the less they accept me/ Even had the OG’s tryna press me, ha-ha-ha, ha”
“4pm in Calabasas” marked an important intersection in Drake’s career, demonstrating how much he’d grown as a tactical lyricist. On its surface, the song looks like a Diddy diss track, arriving after the two got into an alleged altercation in the club over Drake’s song “0 to 100” back in 2014. But when you peel back its several layers, you’ll find that “4pm in Calabasas” is really a masterclass in subliminal sparring and misdirection. Using classic Puff catchphrases as a scalpel, Drake commandeers Diddy’s style and surgically picks apart their relationship, while airing out grievances he has with others in the industry.
2015 was full of ghostwriting allegations and a very public feud with Meek Mill, and by the time he made “4pm,” Drake didn’t care who he offended or what he implied with his raps. Diddy felt the brunt of the song, but strays were also sent to other artists. The song is so calculated that Joe Budden spent upwards of an hour on his podcast debating whether or not certain bars were directed towards him. It made rappers insecure, constantly looking over their shoulder to make sure a Benz wasn’t following them down the winding roads of the Hidden Hills. “4pm in Calabasas” could solely be directed at Diddy. Joe Budden could also be in its peripheral. Chris Brown might have even caught a stray with the “Cris’/Chris bottle sender” line. Only those-in-the-know have a grasp of the whole picture, but in some ways it doesn’t even matter, because this song proves that the whole game is “SWV, ‘Cause you weak and I’m always, always on your mind.”