Is Drake doing alright?

With all the crazy shit that’s going on in the world, it’s no surprise that I often wake up in the middle of the night worried. Like any normal person, I’ll sometimes rise at 3am, sit up in bed, feel momentarily burdened by the silence of the slumbering city, and then whisper a question to an unseen force in the darkness: “…Do you think Drake is okay?” I mean, when was the last time he called?

Ever since I left the city…And now with a new album/mixtape/play list out, well, we might be able to get another little glimpse into his sad, sad, overstuffed box of feelings that he carries around with him like an empty gold cup. With a bit of R and Lexicoder and some web scraping of azlyrics.com, maybe we can start wrestling with some important questions.

Questions like: Seriously Drake, how you doin’? Are you okay?

I mean, it’s completely reasonable to think that maybe the weight of the world is getting Drake down – and if so, we should probably be able to see that in his lyrics. Are they getting sadder?  Are his albums getting sadder over time, or what? WHAT’S GOING ON DRIZZY?

Drake’s Saddest Songs

One thing that is for sure, if Drake’s got enemies – I mean got a lot of enemies – they’re not draining him of any energy. I collected 275 songs from azlyrics.com, 191 of them were on albums and got included in the analysis here. So Drake is working hard, putting out a lot of music each year.  But  which one of Drake’s songs is the saddest? Well, using the Lexicoder Sentiment Dictionary, it would appear that that most negative song is: “Digital Dash” from What a Time To Be Alive.

With a sentiment score of -46.0, it is a clear outlier (the average sentiment score for all Drake songs is 4.9, and the average score for this album is -2.2). It’s not clear if this is the saddest song in Drake’s album catalogue (the dictionary captures negativity, not sadness), but it’s definitely one of the darkest.

A quick note on methods, all we are doing here is running a dictionary of negative and positive sentiment scores against a cleaned up dataset of Drake’s lyrics. The overall sentiment score is just the difference between negative and positive word counts. We can then plot those over time, by album, or look at other measures if we’d like.

Fortunately, it looks like Drake’s been getting happier as his career has gone on (sentiment trend overlaid below). I would love to plot these scores against his album sales … so maybe that’s a next step.

As Drake has a tendancy do things real big, bigger than you ever done it, it’s no surprise that each album has a few outliers – both negative and positive.  When we drop the outliers , it looks like the saddest/darkest songs in Drake’s catalog are “Own It” off “Nothing Was The Same”, and “Say What’s Real” off of “So Far Gone”, both with a sentiment score of -19.0.

Drake’s Saddest Albums

This doesn’t quite tell us the full story though. When we look at overall sentiment per album, we can see that Drake … well… it seems like Drizzy wasn’t in a very good place for a few years….

 

But by the time Views was released, he seemed to have gotten things under control. Actually, let me rephrase, he was on top of the fucking world: Views was extremely positive. Like off the charts positive. Perhaps Drake was too strung out on compliments, and he overdosed on confidence, because More Life, the follow up, is much more subdued – back to the sentiment levels of Take Care.

So what does this mean? Are we about to enter another Drake slump? Will his next album be another dark pit of depression, introspection, and sadness, or is this just a momentary blip?

If we look at the number of positive and negative songs per album, it looks like the overwhelming number of songs on the last album are still positive (though these haven’t been weighted yet, this could just lots of short interludes with positive counts). So even if the overall tone of the album may be more negative, this may just be concentrated in a few really negative songs.

 

Album Negative Songs Positive Songs Diff
2006 – Room for Improvement 3 11 8
2007 – Comeback Season 5 15 10
2009 – So Far Gone 4 12 8
2010 – Thank Me Later 0 11 11
2010 – Young Sweet Jones 1 10 9
2011 – Take Care 10 10 0
2013 – Nothing was the Same 6 8 2
2015 – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late 9 9 0
2015 – What A Time To Be Alive 4 5 1
2016 – Views 0 12 12
2017 – More Life 6 14 8

Conclusions

Of course this is a first cut, if this had serious implications, I would spend a lot more time cleaning the data and maybe working on a Drake-specific sentiment dictionary. You’ll also note that I haven’t actually looked at the lyrics at all to see if this can be confirmed, but I suspect that it would. It’d be great to have someone who really knows his catalog to help sort through this. But from my knowledge of Drake’s catalog, this seems pretty accurate.

Tentative conclusion: Drake’s probably doing just fine, but this could be the beginning of another exploration of the darker sides of his feelings. Not particularly surprising for someone who started at the bottom, but really, I think I like who he’s becoming.

Postscript

On a whim, I just checked to see what the most common words were in the dataset. What was the most common word that Drake says in his music?

That word was I

That word is “I”


I’m on twitter @markdaku