Roughly eleven months after the release of the eternally-anticipated Views, the world’s most popular rapper has returned with more new music in the form of a “playlist” called More Life. It’s a quick turnaround for Drake. His Summer Sixteen Tour ended in October after three months of intensive touring, yet More Life was originally slated for December release, so there has been a degree of anticipation for this… thing.
So what is it? Well, Drake says it’s a “playlist,” and Drake really wanted to make that clear because he slapped it on the front cover in Zapfino font under a goofy picture of his father. One would have the expectation that this would be an OVO compilation of sorts — similar to Kanye West’s Cruel Summer of 2011 — but Drake appears on all but two tracks, and goes solo on eleven of them. Furthermore, there’s ten featured artists and only one of them is an OVO signee.
So, again, what is it? Well, it’s basically another Drake album branded as an “OVO playlist” for whatever reason. One could hypothesize Drake branded it as such to muddle expectations after the Views hysteria built for three years, only to be poorly received in critical circles… Or, maybe Drake had too many leftovers from Views and just dragged them into an iTunes playlist like one would do if they’re bored on a Saturday afternoon. Whatever the case, the endgame here is pretty obvious: more $$$
Drake isn’t subtle with it either, he lets this thing run for fucking NINETY-TWO MINUTES. It’s the same length as Views, and like Views, the issue of quality control/length ends up being the biggest indictment. It’s a shame, too, because tracks 1-10 are Drake’s most consistent stretch of songs since Nothing Was The Same. Unfortunately for everyone who isn’t under his spell, he couldn’t resist giving his fans — as Drake would regrettably say — “more chune for yer headtop ya know?” and as a whole this is another “meh” release.
But aside from the opening track “Free Smoke,” (which is essentially just “Hype’s” annoying cousin with a delightful intro) the first half of More Life features a wonderful blend of Caribbean-meets-UK music, and contemporary R&B.
The obvious highlight here is the third track, “Passionfruit,” produced by Britain’s Nana Rogues. It’s a song I’ve been clamoring for ever since Drake teamed up with house phenom Jamie xx for “Take Care” in 2011. No surprise here, a crooning Drake sounds absolutely wonderful over the eerie house rhythm. This nicely contrasts with the wintery Noah “40” Shebib production on “Jorja Interlude”, which flows seamlessly through to “Get It Together” – another house-inspired track that comes equipped with moving piano flourishes/stabs and beautiful vocals from Jorja Smith. “Madiba Riddim” extends the bounciness of the previous two tracks, but sonically bleeds something euphoric. Lastly, “Blem’s” subtle waviness caps off a great string of mesmerizing beats. The production on all of these tracks is intricately detailed, and more inspired than anything post-NWTS. His cultural extension — although corny through his lyrics — simply sounds perfect. The sequencing of the tracks is also cohesive to a point where you forget this is a “playlist,” and appreciate this by how it sounds: like an album.
The Sampha track is where things go downhill, although gradually at that. There actually isn’t a bad song until “Portland” comes along; and whether it was CuBeatz’ intention to create a shitty version of “Broccoli” or not, he succeeded. The recorder sample doesn’t help the nothingness of the Quavo and Travis $cott verses. This sets the precedent for big-name features on low-grade songs; 2 Chainz sounds asleep on “Sacrifices”; Kanye West continues a run of terrible features on “Glow,” and PARTYNEXTDOOR adds little to the incredibly boring “Since Way Back.” Of course, none of these are necessarily the feature’s fault. The production is just over-the-top generic, and sounds like: “We didn’t actually go to the studio for that track, I just spit a verse over the beat and e-mailed it to Drizzy,” – *insert rapper here*. But, props to Young Thug for making it sound like that wasn’t the case on his two features.
What remains is a whole lot of solo Drake tracks that aren’t necessarily bad, but certainly don’t live up to the first half highlights. They either fit the criteria of being: a) unoriginal, or b) annoying. Both “Lose You” and “Do Not Disturb” are slow-moving eulogies where Drake tries to impart wisdom on us. I believe we’re all aware of Drake’s wealth, his troubling past with women, and his weird insecurities at this point. Yet his incessant urge to reintroduce these topics in a form that is neither unique, nor captivating, is, y’know, annoying. Elsewhere, his flow is irritable on “KMT” and “Fake Love”, and “Can’t Have Everything” features the hook:
Can’t have everything / Can’t have everything / Want a lot, can’t have everything / But I want everything.
Couldn’t have said it any better myself.
All things considered, this album or playlist or whatever is just too damn long. To experience this album in one sitting, would be to eat a four-course meal at a nice restaurant, and then be served a heaping mound of Kraft Dinner. There’s a time and place for KD, just like there’s a time for low-substance Drake songs that sound good in the whip. But as a whole, this is not a pleasant listen. Of course, how you choose to consume this will probably not be in one, ninety-minute sitting. In that respect, there’s enough good tracks to hold you off until Drake feels the need to break another streaming record.
Stream More Life below and let us know what you think in the comment section. For all things hip hop keep reading at True Too.