Drake has taken the leap that few rappers ever make successfully: the jump from hip hop to pop. Now don’t be confused, his songs still carry the rap flag, and he can still spit bars, but now that the 30-year-old has claimed the top spot of the genre, he’s looking past the limitations hip hop has and aiming for something bigger. On More Life, a playlist curated by himself and his business partner Oliver El-Khatib, Drake’s global reach is extended further than ever before.
On Views, his record-smashing 2016 album, we first heard Drake’s attempt at reaching a larger audience than your typical hip hop fan. Not to say his past music was exclusively rap, but on Views we received dancehall, afrobeat and even electro-pop-tinged tunes, something that very few other rappers are doing. More Life continues this appreciation of other music, especially with dancehall. There’s about a 4-5 song stretch where it’s nothing but island vibes, where Drake pushes radio dancehall further than it’s ever been. “Passionfruit” is an ideal example of Drake’s ability to craft magic. The deep house-tinged track gives off those aforementioned island vibes, but lyrically it’s about a Drake-staple: his struggle to maintain a long-distance relationship. “Get It Together,” Madiba Riddim” and “Blem” are all infectious as well as filled with relatable subject matter that anyone, not just hip hop fans, can relate to.
Of course, Drake can still rap with the best of them, and his utilization of flow remains one of today’s best. “No Long Talk” has the rapper/singer use a climactic-like voice, backed perfectly by the bombastic beat provided by Cubeatz and Murda. “Gyalchester” has Drake in a braggadocious, determined mood. “I don’t take naps,” he says. “Me and the money are way too attached to go and do that.” A fitting line, as he recruits some of today’s hottest rappers on songs “Portland,” featuring Quavo and Travis Scott, and “Sacrifices,” featuring 2 Chainz and Young Thug. Drake knows what his fans want, and that’s to collaborate with today’s most popular rappers. He doesn’t disappoint.
Being that it’s 22 songs long, there are bound to be some misfires. “Since Way Back,” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, is about two minutes too long, and while PND’s crooning is fine, too much of it can get taxing. “Glow” has a Kanye West feature but him and Drake don’t really mesh well on this particular track, which is somewhat disheartening since the two are slated to drop a collab project ‘in the near future.’ Some of the other songs on here aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re not really great either. “Can’t Have Everything” “Nothings Into Something” and “KMT” are somewhat half-assed in their presentation, and the 3rd suffers from a frankly terrible verse from UK rapper Giggs.
While detractors (ahem, haters) will say that Drake refuses to call More Life an album because it’s not good enough, a playlist is the apt title for a project like this. The sounds are varied and there’s something for everyone, as opposed to a more tradional album where the themes and sonics are usually similar. However, if Drake can make a project this good in only 7-8 months (he announced he was working on the project last July), who knows how great his next full-length will be.
8.3 – 10