Lil Wayne’s Canadian chum unexpectedly lays siege to the US charts…
Tom Ewing: I just called my second son Drake, so I have more than the usual critical interest in this smooth-tongued fellow. Perhaps his success can teach some valuable life lessons to my offspring. “Be competent but not too interesting” – hmm, no, not quite what I was after. “Don’t tell a girl she’s the second or third best you ever had” – on the right track. “Cultivate your falsetto” – now THAT’s more like it.
Alex Ostroff: In the most surreal moment of Lil’ Wayne’s concert in Montreal, Wayne, midstage, turns to the audience and hollers “How many of y’all watch DEGRASSI?” The latest signee to Young Money hails from the ubiquitous Canadian soap and on his So Far Gone mixtape, he raps over 808s-alike production, managing to create a palatable, textured, interesting listen. Colour me impressed.
Al Shipley: Considering that he looks like Eamon, I can only imagine that Drake’s heartthrob status comes mainly from the fact that he sings a little sweeter than the average sangin’ rapper. But that’s only when he hits the high notes, and he spends most of this song slurring in an unpleasant lower register that sounds like Weezy at his syrup sippin’ worst.
Martin Skidmore: The singing is occasionally quite sweet on this, more often dull, approximating rapping without much flow, or singing without tunefulness. I’ve kind of liked him as a guest on a couple of things, but this strikes me as a bit of a mess.
Jonathan Bradley: Whatever Drake might be — Ma$e for the Twitter age, perhaps? — he sure knows how to sell it. Pulling off this fluffy cuddle-rap is tougher than it sounds, and Drizzy does it without pandering or simpering. Here, as he often does, he plays down his genre’s affinity for hyper-masculine bravado, but he doesn’t neuter himself in the process. The softly spoken come-ons here are brash, not bland, and his refrain of “You the fuckin’ best” sounds almost as sweet as he obviously believes it to be (“This the type of joint you gotta dedicate to somebody”). His indie-rocker sincerity helps, as does his irrepressible charm; Drake talks about girls with the same enthusiasm some other rappers talk about money. But it is believable; his outlook is unselfconsciously suburban and in its guilelessness, contrasting strongly with the calculating portrayal of the same we heard from Asher Roth earlier in the year.
Michaelangelo Matos: The vocal endlessly rolls out the chorus in a continuously looping pattern, the track keeps cutting back on itself, both great by themselves, but together they generate a silky tension not quite like anything I can remember.
Ian Mathers: He sounds like such a sleaze here – spending so much time talking about how a song like this needs to be dedicated to a special someone, but refusing to get more specific than “you.” And her sterling qualities seem to be nothing more than being really hot and not listening when her friends insist Drake is cheating on her. I’d much rather listen to Gary Allan, frankly.
Chuck Eddy: First time I saw this song listed in Billboard, before I read that Drake is the future of rap music, I was really hoping it would be an r&b version of Gary Allan’s 2005 hit country version of Vertical Horizon’s 2001 rock hit. Now that I hear it, I realize he’s just another blasé rapper biting Kanye’s phrasing over rattatatats and moody soul samples. “Get it from the back and make ya fuckin’ bra strap pop, all up in ya slot ’til the nigga hit the jackpot” — er, no wonder people think the guy’s brilliant. Nice that he appreciates girls in sweat pants, though. And knows how the Andy Griffith theme goes. Or at least says he does.
Martin Kavka: “She call me the referee because I be so official / My shirt ain’t got no stripes but I can make ya pussy whistle / Like the Andy Griffith theme song.” Who in their right minds wants to think of Andy Griffith during sex? Yuck. And what’s up with the pronoun shift (from “she” to “ya”)?
Rodney J. Greene: Fresh off wanting to fuck every girl in the world, Drake’s paean comes across insincere, but not so comically that he circles back to sincerely insincere. Possessing neither interesting voice nor melody, the Auto-Tune adds nothing, yet exacerbates the prior issue. A point recovered for that slurred bass note that pops up periodically, but even with that, the uninspired soul-bap backing could be from any local backpacker’s deep cut. The regular and steady monotone he raps in for half the song, too.
Jordan Sargent: Drake’s more or less come up under the tutelage of Lil Wayne, and it shows in his music. As a rapper he carries himself as someone with Weezy’s wit, but he’s about half as good a punchline rapper as he thinks he is. But as a crossover r&b artist he’s something special, a post-AutoTune urban artist who doesn’t as much transcend clichés and fads as much as exist as if they never happened. “Best I Ever Had” is bright and bubbly, with a chorus that has more good melodies than the song has memorable rap lines. The chorus’s turn into a soft, boyish falsetto is nothing short of sublime, and it makes me think that the kid whose uncle worked with Al Green should do r&b full-time.
Alfred Soto: Winning modesty and repeating the title over and over earns him points (I’ll overlook the part where he compares sharing hearts to sharing a last slice of pizza), but Drake’s flow and beats are strictly pedestrian. We’ll pardon his girlfriend for getting a little bored.
Hillary Brown: 
Anthony Easton: 
Anthony Miccio: