ALBUM (Playlist?) REVIEW: Drake – More Life

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More Life, 2017

More chunes for ya headtop, so watch how you speak on my name, you know. 

Drake called this particular project a “playlist” which confused a lot of people, me included. I originally thought that “More Life” would be a series of “Views” B sides that would be mostly pretty forgettable.I couldn’t have been more wrong. “More Life” is probably Drake’s most listenable album since “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” and has some of Drake’s best songs to date. A lot of elements on “Views” make their way onto this playlist like the dance hall and use of island patois. This definitely puts some people off and I definitely get it, but it has never really bothered me.

Drake has pretty much already conquered the states and his home area of Toronto, so where else would he go? Global. One Dance and Controlla were some of Drake’s biggest commercial successes, but moreover they were testers to see if people would like that new kind of sound. Drake saw that people did, so he decided to give us more. It pays off here on “More Life”. Passionfruit is by far my favorite track on the album( playlist?) and currently one of my favorite songs Drake has ever done. A bonafide  hit that will be played at summer parties and cookouts for  years to come. The  dance-hall tracks are solid as well and I thoroughly love the lot of them. Blem and Madiba Riddim are both fantastic as well with Drake singing about love and relationships with tropical, island production that just makes you want to move and dance.

Passionate from miles away
Passive with the things you say
Passin’ up on my old ways
I can’t blame you, no, no

This playlist also sees Drake incorporating elements of grime into his music. Leading up to the release of “More Life”, Drake was spending a lot of his time in the UK touring and having shows with grime artists like Giggs, Skepta, and Dave. He has been very vocal about his love and admiration for grime artists even going so far to say that he thinks that the best rappers in the world are from the UK. Some see this as Drake trying to pander to the UK crowd (and perhaps that’s true), but this really has led to some great tracks. UK singer-songwriters Sampha and Jorja Smith contribute their vocals to the record to an amazing effect. Gyalchester, Long Talk, and  KMT see Drake doing his best grime artist impression and it works really well here, for the most part. Skepta gets his own solo cut on this playlist and he does a real bang-up job. He delivers the same amount of intensity that was on his last record Konnichiwa. Admittedly, the lingo and slang that Drake uses throughout these songs like “chunes”, “headtop”, and “tings” are going to confuse a LOT of people. Is Drake using these a bit cringe? Sure, but like I said Drake is trying to appeal to the global audience, not just for us in the states. The formula works for Drake more so than anyone else.

The rap oriented tracks are still a pleasure to listen to and lyrically, Drake sounds better than he did on “Views”. There are no “Chain-ing Tatum” moments on here at all. The features on here are all fantastic, barring Young Thug on “Ice Melts”. Kanye provides the best feature he’s done in YEARS on the track Glow with Drake singing on the hook. The combination pays off extremely well and is one of the best songs on the album by far.  Perhaps this is what the announced Drake x Kanye collaboration was to be like. The other features from PARTYNEXTDOOR, Jorja Smith, 2 Chainz, Giggs, and Black Coffee are all good as well.

Portland is another standout track as Drake uses a flute and recorder to deliver a really catchy song about, well, Portland, Oregon. The recorder is really goofy, admittedly, but it works. Drake delivers another great set of quotable lyrics and with features from Quavo and Travis Scott, this song becomes great.

Yeah, my side girl got a 5S with the screen cracked
Still hit me back right away, better not never hesitate
Don’t come around thinkin’ you gettin’ saved
Tryna show the dogs brighter days
Got a torch, tryna light the way
Bitin’ everybody, which is ironic ’cause your next album probably won’t ever see the light of day
Have fans but you let ’em down
But I guess that’s how you niggas gettin’ down

Some of the flaws on this album stem from expectation and some filler deep cuts. Leading up to the release of this album, we saw Drake and The Weeknd reunite. I was absolutely thrilled. OVOXO was no doubt one of the best collaborations in hip-hop at the time and seeing them together was great. There were hints of a Weeknd feature on “More Life”, so I was super disappointed when I found out that there was none. The track Fake Love was literally just begging for a remix from Abel. I’m not completely in love with the song with just Drake, so a feature from The Weeknd would have been a great surprise. “More Life” is also woefully lacking in features from Drake’s OVO companions. I would have loved to see Roy Woods or dvsn on some of these tracks and they would have been a great fit. Some of the deep cuts like Nothings Into Somethings  and Teenage Fever just seem like needless filler that would have been pretty dynamic if Drake had someone else with him.

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Many people were wondering what would happen to Drake after his last album. Despite “Views'” mixed reception, it was Drake’s most commercial success and has lead to him hitting a creative peak.”More Life” has Drake surpassing that peak and transcending past rapper status into pop star. I see Drake now in the same leagues as Adele, Taylor Swift, and even Ed Sheeran. What does this spell for Drake? Don’t worry, he’ll give us the summary in 2018.

8.7/10

 

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