Drake’s release of playlist ‘More Life’ excites

Adrian Broaddus , Web Editor

In 2011, Drake had one of the hardest tasks: to live up to his previous impressive album, “Thank Me Later.” He not only met every level “Thank Me Later” had, but he surpassed all expectations with his benchmark album, “Take Care.”

Even though he garnished quadruple platinum in the 11 months since its release and racked up five 2017 Grammy nominations, Drake lacked depth with his eighth album, “Views.”

Nonetheless, “More Life” was one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, and listeners were hungry for something that would redeem “Views.”

Through a 22-track alternative hip-hop venture, “More Life” serves as a strictly solid Drake album and beautifully notches another notable project in Drizzy’s illustrious collection.

The long-awaited playlist premiered on OVO Sound Radio on March 18, and features a plethora of features from 21 Savage, Young Thug, Kanye West, Skepta, Giggs, Jorja Smith, Travis Scott, Quavo, 2 Chainz and more. The production group also features a wide range of artists such as Noah “40” Shebib, London On Da Track, Kanye West, Murda, Nineteen85, Boi-1da, Vinylz and Frank Dukes.

The album’s intentions, unlike traditional hip-hop releases, was to pioneer a new wave of releasing an album by calling it a playlist. In an interview with DJ Semtex, Drake said, “I asked myself, ‘What if I just did OVO Sound Radio, but every song is a new Drake song.” It highlights up-and-coming artists while still giving it the Drizzy taste everyone wanted.

Although this album’s intentions were to be an in-between release before his next album, Drake is victorious with “More Life.” He’s best when he doesn’t come across as a try-hard, and on “More Life,” Drizzy utilizes his effortless swagger to his advantage.

He blends exuberant Caribbean-like beats with shifty vocals to push uncharted boundaries. He also rectifies previous work to new, redefining pieces that sometimes sound lazy and dragged on. Really, there’s only so many times Drake can try to remake a “Take Care”-sounding track. He pulls out his inner Kanye West by asking the featured artists to perform to his standard, which they all accomplish.

Drake opens the album on “Free Smoke,” and is how everyone expected, with shots to Meek Mill, celebrity gossip and him flaunting how he’s the best rapper on the planet. Contrary to the opener, Drake steers pretty far away from his boastful rap and the level he’s at.

Drake is at his best when he divulges his music into new, tropical sounds that differentiate from his previous baby-making-music-tracks. On “Passionfruit,” Drake gives a present-day “Marvins Room” with the twist of a newfound beat. The song has uniqueness, drags at times, but collectively is one of the more notable love songs on the album.

It’s the same Caribbean style found on tracks like “Madiba Riddim” and “Blem,” which both utilize these different beats to add uniqueness to the album. At times, however, Drake’s experimentation with this tropical production goes against his favor and the sounds dragged on.

The features on this album often overshadowed Drake’s quality of music, but it is learned and accepted because of the context of the album being a playlist, as he describes it. The collection’s notable features can be drawn into two separate categories: on one end, Drake brings to the limelight up-and-coming artists, and on the other end, Drake gets top artists in the game to come out and murder some rhymes.

Taking a more humble and subtle approach, United Kingdom singer Jorja Smith teams with Drake for back-to-back tracks on “Jorja’s Interlude” and “Get it Together,” which sounds as selfless on Drake’s end as the title states. Recently to the R&B spotlight is Sampha, and on “More Life,” he delivers a powerful solo track, “4422.” The song serves as a break in action for the normal rap-heavy tracks and speaks soulfully, “You built it up to break it halfway through/Just make the call, 22/But you’re just the same as I ever knew, 44.” While both Skepta’s and Giggs’ respective features seems a little dragged on and unfitting, they still showcase how good of a rapper both British artists are.

On paper, a Quavo, Kanye and Young Thug feature seem godly. On “More Life,” all three dominate each song they’re a part of. We hear Quavo join Drizzy on “Portland,” which could be the next biggest song in the hip-hop world. On “Sacrifices” and “Ice Melts,” Young Thug abandons auto tune and sounds spectacular, rapping interesting verses such as “I’m talkin’ neat like fleek/I’m talkin’ neat like a geek.”

With the help of Kanye, Drake capitalizes on “Glow” for a true hip-hop rooted track as the rap god duo finds a harmonic edge to the story of their come-up.

Although he collaborates with some past friends like 2 Chainz and PartyNextDoor, the two respective verses almost fall short from this project. It feels like we expected more from a Drake and a 2 Chainz collaboration, and Chainz’ verse on “Sacrifice” falls lazily. On “Since Way Back,” PartyNextDoor does something he’s never done on a Drake tape—sing over a hard-hitting beat. It felt like this was pulled from a PND album because when it’s a Drake album, the duo have only collaborated on pseudo-deep rap tracks. 

Notably so, the features showcase the growth of Drake’s maturity and his ability to dish load tracks to others. He abandons his stereotypical quirky rhymes throughout the tape, with the exception to “My side girl got a 5S with the screen cracked.” It shows waves of growth as an artist for Drake, even if he still whirls into lyrics about him struggling to achieve true love with a girl.

“More Life” is the “Cozy Tapes” to Drake’s discography and that is impressive at this stage. When A$AP Rocky and company dropped “Cozy Tapes,” we were able to truly witness how prestigious of an artist Rocky is. Now, with “More Life,” we are able to experience Drake’s true reign over all of the hip-hop game and how much he influences others.

At the end of the day, Drake didn’t have to prove anything on “More Life” because he’s already  on top of the hip-hop game. Rather, “More Life” was simply an addition to the storied discography that he has. It falls at times, but it’s seemingly allowed to since it’s a self-labeled collection of music instead of an album. And, yet again, “More Life” is another tape to hype up the anticipation for what’s to come.