Playlist Review: More Life - Drake
Just under a year ago, Drake introduced his 6th commercial release to the mainstream, Views. Views was the release mainstream radio stations and tepid Drake fans alike had been fervently awaiting, bringing to the table some of Drake’s biggest hits of his career, including “One Dance”, “Too Good” and “Controlla”. Despite the commercial success, Views was haphazardly compacted, with little care for structure or thematic consequence, displaying the once symbiotic relationship between Drake and producer Noah “40” Shebib turn lacklustre.
Image Credits: Dancehall HipHop / Genius
Just months after the release of Views, Drake announced the drop of his new project, More Life, by teasing fans with tracks such as “Fake Love” and “Sneeking”, as well as, to the surprise of many, a remix of UK grime artist Dave’s “Wanna Know”. These drops made it transparent that Drake’s new “Playlist” was going to distance itself from its predecessors entirely and rather pose as a gallery presenting a collection of Drake’s beloved artists and reverberations. Perhaps Views was the project Drake fans wanted, but More Life is for sure the project that Drake fans deserve.
When initially entering the realms of More Life, the impressive collection of features will startle and baffle many. Previous collaborators such as PARTYNEXTDOOR, 2Chainz and Travis Scott return to create tracks that you can typically expect from a Drake record. The passionate décor of “Since Way Back”, which features PARTYNEXTDOOR, stretches the beat way out, creating a song of passion and covetousness which could have easily slotted into Views. “Portland”, featuring Quavo and Travis Scott, makes for an atmospheric yet aesthetic take on hip-hops latest burgeoning obsession with flute sampling. Yet some of the principal stand-out features on this record comes from the likes of Young Thug and hip-hop connoisseur, Kanye West. The track “Glow” revives the old raps of Kanye compressed with the gospel-power of The Life of Pablo, making us ever so wishing for this currently fictional Kanye/Drake collaboration record to become a reality.
Despite some of these stand-out features from fellow hip-hop royalty, the most captivating and innovative appearances for sure comes from the unforeseen amount of UK features across the playlist. Grime veteran Giggs is sanctified with two separate features, laying down the classic Giggs conversational flow on one of the opening tracks “No Long Talk”, whilst shining with a hilariously lewd verse on “KMT”. With no-one else in sight, Skepta claims the entire track on “Skepta Interlude” in which he addresses the UK policing’s racial segregation and boasts –“I died and came back as Fela Kuti”-. Complemented with a rhythm and flow sounding straight out of Skepta’s Konnichiwa, let’s hope that “Skepta Interlude” is the track that finalises grimes rise to realisation worldwide.
On the track “Get it Together”, Drake takes a step back and inconspicuously places 19-year-old London artist Jorja Smith into the limelight, unleashing her soaring, dusky voice over a sinuous South African club-infused rhythm by producer Black Coffee. Similarly, yet another London based artist Sampha bleeds his soul over the entirety of his stand-alone track “4422”, having previously collaborated with Drake back on 2013’s Nothing Was The Same. With Drake having very little influence on any of these songs, it becomes predominantly clear that rather than using More Life as a platform to reaffirm his own musical abilities, the record becomes far more engrossed with supplementary talent, or perhaps his newly assembled ‘October Firm’.
It used to be that Drake only possessed one persona: He was the desolate dejected rapper who let his emotions from disembarked relationships get the better of him. Yet More Life introduces a far more laid-back and easy going Aubrey Graham - a persona less about echoing on past endeavours and rather focussing on adoring life’s endless possibilities. The song “Passionfruit” hits this spot. The purity of his falsetto complements the Jamaican dancehall blended with adult contemporary beat wholly, reminding us of the sensations of a glorious summer during gloomier seasons.
Although to some it may seem like Drake is going through an identity crisis, juxtaposing the likes of contemporary R&B with dancehall, grime and even buoyant afropop on summer-loving tracks such as “Madiba Riddim”, the ambition and composure of More Life is what makes pop music a thrilling institution, making for perhaps Drake’s most aspiring project to date. If we view this project less as a Drake album and more as a gathering of artists from all over the world, the success is meritorious. This is the Drake moment we’ve all been visualising that never quite became a reality, until now.