After announcing ‘More Life’ on his birthday back in October, Drake released one of the most highly anticipated projects of the year last Saturday. The 22-song project, which Drake has insisted on calling a playlist rather than an album, lived up to the hype and delivered what I believe will turn out to be one of Drake’s best projects when his career is said and done.
‘More Life’ uses instrumental styles from all around the globe. Drake has never been shy when it comes to singing or rapping about his personal life and his problems with relationships and trust issues. On this playlist, we see Drake at his most vulnerable state debatably since Take Care, while also delivering a plethora of bars in the process. Drake focuses on his prior strengths from past projects as well as incorporating a new, almost revolutionary style that, when it all comes together, gives us 80 minutes of musical gold.
Drake starts the playlist out with “Free Smoke,” showing off his flow and ability to spit bars. Drake asserts himself as the top rapper in the game, rapping about his lavish lifestyle and accomplishments in comparison to his early, come-up days. “Free Smoke” sets the playlist off with its combination of Drake’s flow and the killer beat to go along with it.
His last album, ‘Views’ seemed to show Drake playing it safe as the album gave off a very predictable sound that didn’t raise any eyebrows. On the contrary, ‘More Life’ catalogs the best of Drake throughout past years while still incorporating fresh beats and originality. Whereas ‘Views’ seemed to be lacking effort from Drake’s part, ‘More Life’ gives us a little bit of everything, showing just how versatile of an artist he is. After a couple songs, Drake slows the tempo down with “Passionfruit.” The track gives a softer Jamaican-style beat that I can’t help but smile nod my head and shake my shoulders to.
One of the more intimate songs on the playlist is “4422,” written and sang almost entirely by Sampha. Sampha delivers a powerful set of lyrics throughout the song, focusing on his complications with love and expressing his fear of trusting another. He gets really personal about past relationships and his hesitancy to get romantically involved out of fear to be hurt again. This is Drake’s third collaboration with the U.K. artist, following the songs “Too Much” and “The Motion.” It seems like every time the two link up they create something special and memorable.
Drake features a number of U.K. artists on ‘More Life’. In addition to Sampha, the playlist includes two features from Giggs on “No Long Talk” and “KMT” and Skepta on “Skepta Interlude.” Drake has been a fan of the UK grime artist for some time, and the two have worked together in the past. Some other key artists featured on the playlist include 2 Chainz, Jorja Smith, Young Thug, who is featured in two songs, and PARTYNEXTDOOR, who helped produce “Since Way Back.” Although he provides a lot of features, Drake doesn’t rely on them to make the songs or the playlist. Yes, they compliment him and his beats very well, but Drake steals the show in nearly every song.
‘More Life’ provides a fantastic flow throughout the whole playlist, with transitions from slow to fast songs coming at the perfect time. One of the best examples that shows this flow is “4422” to “Gyalchester.” Had I not seen the track list, I would have assumed these were one long song. Whereas “4422” slows the playlist down and gets intimate, “Gyalchester” takes the piano used in the end of the song and slowly builds the beat up and finally drops some heavy bass over Drake doing his thing and turns into a banger I found myself shrugging my shoulders up and down to, a complete 180 from the previous song.
Drake not only showed off his incredible flow and what I would consider to be some of his best rapping since ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,’ he also put his vocal skills on display throughout the playlist. In specific, Drake’s singing impressed me most on “Glow.” The Kanye West-featured track gives a softer, slower beat with a rumble of bass in the background. Kanye raps in a slower manner on the track, as does Drake, but Drake also shows off his ability to hit the high notes and proves that he’s still got it when it comes to singing, too. Kanye was also involved in the song’s production.
As far as bangers go, “Portland” would be my top pick from the playlist. The song features Travis Scott and Quavo. The song starts off with a flute playing before Drake absolutely goes in as the bass hits. Travis and Quavo rap about their originality and not letting others “ride their wave.” I found the choice of this song title to be cool because the NBA team in Portland, Oregon is named the Trailblazers. In a sense, they are rapping about setting the trends and ‘blazing the trail’ rather than following others. They say that they aren’t going to let anybody copy their style because nobody can duplicate it as well as them. Travis and Quavo have dropped hints about a collaborative album that is expected to be released sometime this year.
One thing I noticed while listening to ‘More Life’ was a sense of nostalgia in regards to past Drake songs. I found “Blem” to have sounded very similar to “Controlla,” a song off Drake’s last album, ‘Views.’ I also felt like the very beginning of “Passionfruit” had a similar vibe to “With U” in regards to the tempo and style of the beat. The one I noticed the most came from “Jorjas Interlude.” In the song, Drake recirculates Stevie Wonder’s sensational harmonica solo originally used in the song “Doing It Wrong” off Drake’s ‘Take Care’ album. I found this to be really awesome because it made me reminisce about that album as well as my life at the time. Hearing Stevie Wonder rip that harmonica for a second time put a big grin on my face.
The song “Ice Melts” really caught my attention. I can see this being on the radio, which is shocking because it features Young Thug, somebody who doesn’t appeal to the mainstream, radio media. The beat is different from what you’d expect a song with Thugger to be; the upbeat and positive feel to the song provides a very cheerful and euphoric vibe.
Drake closes the playlist out with “Do Not Disturb.” The song, much like the playlist as a whole, discusses the challenges and events Drake has been going through since ‘Views.’ On this song, Drake is at his most vulnerable state, as he opens up and unloads a lot of emotion by diving into his personal life, discussing everything from media backlash, to his challenges with his romantic relationships, as well as his beef with other artists in the industry. I found this song to be really cool in a sense that he’s being so raw and I think real Drake fans can appreciate how personal and pensive Drake was in this song. The song provides the perfect ending to a fantastic playlist.
The name of the playlist could not have been more fitting. ‘More Life’ gave us just that. He gave us a playlist to listen to on any occasion, whether it be getting ready to party, just chilling at the crib, or, for me personally, something to listen to while flipping pancakes in the morning.
In terms of how good the playlist was, let me put it this way, it will be next to impossible for another hip hop album to match this level. I found myself clapping and saying “Bravo” after my first listen. Unless Kendrick Lamar drops his best album to date, I don’t see anybody else who could give Drake a run for his money. I’m predicting Drake to absolutely clean up the Grammy’s next year after this playlist.
It’s safe to say Drake has definitely earned himself a break after this project, but we’ll have to wait and see whether or not he does. He hints at seeing ‘us’ again in 2018, so I’m assuming we won’t be getting a second project from Drake anytime soon, but I’m not complaining.