I’m gonna keep this quick because I’m at work and there’s pizza beside me. At home with no pizza. Back at work.
OK so, Drake released More Life and much to my dismay, I didn’t hate it. Well let’s start there. I’ll never be a Drake stan, I think he’s fake and something about him just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (pause?). Despite this, I’m able to separate Aubrey the lame from Drake the artist even though they are inextricably connected. It’s undeniable that the dude makes hits. With recent mega-successes like “Hotline Bling,” the collaborative effort of What A Time To Be Alive, and a bevy of chart topping projects prior, he’s established himself in the modern music era. Recently though, contrary to his own words, he obviously got some new friends because his sound has evolved. In addition to Drake’s arsenal of “Fuck everybody, I’m the greatest” rap and “Never Drake and Drive” singing attempts, he added some Caribbean dance hall influenced tracks that have some scratching their head and others well…dancing. Another influence that is super prominent on More Life is his deep dive into grime and other UK hip hop.
Now, in my opinion, Views was trash. If you offer and hour and twenty-one minutes of music but only twenty-one minutes (I actually counted) of it is memorable…you goofed. It’s lazy, too long and kind of all over the place. Even the supposed bangers are forgettable and boring…looking at you “Hype” and “Popstyle”. Obviously wasn’t a big fan but it did introduce us to his version of the new islandy dance style that was/is popular. I really liked “Controlla,” loved “Too Good” but despised “One Dance”. This album was Drake’s offering to what was cool at that time (11 months ago). Trap was on the come up and Bieber’s “tropical house” tune “Sorry” was still everywhere. I also feel like this around the time we heard Drake starting to say “ting” (ugh).
More Life was similar in theme except but vastly improved in execution to the point that I actually liked it. While not perfect and containing some interesting choices, I felt myself infinitely more pleased.
Let’s start with the bad: Drake is that new kid that tries to get accepted into a new crew so he has to copy them. He met some grime artists and apparently fell in love with them and their style. Grime is a more dirty, syncopated, electronic version of hip hop largely popular over seas. We all know the Brits talk completely different than us crusty Americans, which means they have a different slang vocabulary. It’s all over More Life and to me sounds somewhat forced. In some songs he uses an accent that I can’t quite identify as being either British or Jamaican? On the flip side, there are some notable UK artists like Skepta and Giggs that feature which helps bring some legitimacy to what is happening.
On a positive note, there are some standout songs that I think we’ll be hearing all summer. Although similarly to Views, the tracks sometimes waiver between trap slappers to more chilled out songs, there are some cool interludes that ease a listener into the next track. Also, production uses tricks like fading out a song with the main melodic theme of the next song. So even if they have different vibes, there is something familiar to keep it going. For example, “Jorja Interlude” transitions into “Get It Together” and “4422” flows nicely into “Gyalchester.” All the features work with some artists seemingly getting their own cuts (“Skepta Interlude,” previously mentioned “Jorja Interlude,” and Kanye’s “Glow” to some degree).
Right now my favorites are:
“Passionfruit”-proves that music doesn’t need to be complicated to be catchy as hell.
“Get It Together”-really nice production including dancy drums, piano that fills the track out and Jorja Smith’s beautiful voice. Reminiscent of possibly the best song on Views, “Too Good” ft Rihanna.
“Portland”-I love Quavo and Travis Scott.
“Sacrifices”-I love 2 Chainz, Young Thug and this beat. Soo so good.
This project is super top heavy and honestly I could go without the last like 8 songs excluding “Fake Love” which is…fine. What isn’t fine is the absence of “Sneakin'” and that makes me sad. The last several songs are just whatever to me. I do not like the Kanye song and “Since Way Back” with PARTYNEXTDOOR (stupid name, good artist) also exists. The last half of the album sounds like throwaways from Views but slightly better.
Drake needs to figure out what he wants to do with his music…or not, I don’t care. It’s cool to pay homage to new things you discovered and even put your new friends on. On the flip side, even if you are heavily influenced by others and somewhat pull it off successfully, just be yourself. This could just be the modern form of Drake so maybe he is being himself. To his credit, Drake has the crew behind him to elevate whatever he wants to sing/rap about with crisp instrumentals with great production. More Life should hold hardcore fans over because…everything was the same (I couldn’t help myself).
I’m just waiting for a Drake project titled “Aubrey.”
Check it out: