March 18th yielded the highly anticipated release of Drake’s sixth full length solo album More Life (2017). It’s his strongest project since breaking free of the tried-and-true formula he perfected on his previous records leading up to 2016’s inconsistent yet adventurous Views. For example, Drake’s 2011 masterpiece, Take Care, centered around Drake’s R&B vocals and sad boy stories, while his If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late tape, spontaneously released in 2015, adopted an angry/paranoid persona and executed it with some of his most iconic flows and lyricism to date. In contrast, Views opened the gates to Drake’s full potential as a multidimensional artist and he continued this pattern on More Life (2017). From “Sad Boy Drake,” to “Dancehall Drake,” to “Pretty-much-the-king-of-rap Drake;” every type of Drake fan will find a handful of songs to bump on this diverse, meticulously crafted 22 track record that Drake has been describing as a “playlist” rather than an album. More Life firmly establishes Drake’s well-earned position as not only a rapper or R&B singer but a global phenomenon.
If More Life teaches us anything, it’s that no one knows how to craft a radio bop like Drake does; a talent he’s perfected and maintained since his first top-10 single “Best I Ever Had” in 2009. Don’t be surprised when the dancehall tracks like “Passionfruit,” “Blem” or “Get It Together” are routinely played on the radio all summer. They seem to be a direct attempt at satisfying the “One Dance”/ “Controlla” crowd he picked up from Views, and they do not disappoint.
But fear not, fellow Migos enthusiasts, there’s something for you too. “Portland” packs the biggest punch on the record with assistance from Travis Scott and Migos’ very own Quavo, two of the most recent additions to the top of the charts with Scott’s Birds In the Trap Sing Mcknight (2016) and Migos’ instant classic, Culture (2017).
(Yeah) I might just go get the fade” (Travis Scott, “Portland”)
Other stand-out features on More Life include Sampha’s stunning vocals on “4422,” the U.K’s once underground soul singer Jorja Smith on “Get It Together,” 2 Chainz’s delivering us with an iconic verse on “Sacrifices,” and a surprisingly decent feature from Kanye West on the eighteenth track, “Glow.”
Young Thug also shows up with not one, but two jaw-droppingly brilliant features on “Sacrifices” and “Ice Melts,” confirming Drake’s ability to bring out the best in every artist he collaborates with.
The moody Drake we knew on Take Care is brought back from the dead on the fourteenth (and debatably the best) track on the album, “Teenage Fever.” The song features a sample of J. Lo’s 90s classic “If You Had My Love,” which definitely raises eyebrows when contextualized with the two’s “whirlwind romance” back in 2016.
I’m not scared of it, she ain’t either” (Drake, “Teenage Fever”)
You can’t have highlights without some lowlights right? There’s a few sour tracks that could have been cut to slim down the length of the project (if eighty minutes of Drake isn’t your thing). “Lose You,” for example, is a five minute flatline not bringing anything new or memorable to the project. The LP’s fifteenth track “KMT,” with a feature from London based rapper Giggs, utilizes a beat that overpowers some of the album’s weakest lyricism (Giggs actually said ‘Batman, da-na-na-da-na’?).
Drake goes out of his way to prove to the world that he’s more than just a childhood actor turned rapper from Toronto, he’s a global icon. A status arguably attained by stealing components from cultures he doesn’t belong to. That beings said, there’s really no other rap artist even close to him in terms of charting success or international influence, and he’ll make sure to remind you at least seven times on each project. More Life may just be the album to finally present the wonder that is the U.K.’s grime scene and he merges rap with it seamlessly.
His whole aim through the curation of this so-called “playlist” is that there is no singular mood. We are exposed to Drake in all his forms. He pulls elements from each album in his discography and compresses them into the brilliant body of art that is More Life. Overall, it’s an eclectic collection of some of Drake’s best work. Yeah, it has it’s highs and lows (as most albums do) but his distinct flows, top-tier production quality, and strategically sound features explains exactly why he’s the rightful owner of the pop-culture crown.
Written by Shelby Mayes