More Life: How Drake Got It Right
September 24, 2013; that was the last time Drake has probably seen anything that resembled a break in his schedule. Aside from a few months off in 2015, the Toronto native has more or less become a world native following the release of his third album, Nothing Was The Same. After following the album-tour-album cycle for a number of years, sometimes in varying sequences, Drake was destined to switch up the format one way or another.
After a noisy 2016, Drake promised fans that 2017 would be set to the sound of a different tone as he announced his new, upcoming project, More Life, just months after the release and billboard success of his fourth album, Views. The rumors of what his new project was would soon turn to talks of an album, and talks of an album would soon turn to Drake himself calling More Life a ‘playlist,’ but the specifics of what to call Drake’s latest musical ambition is not what’s important. It’s especially not important as us fans stand in the middle of newfound ‘streaming wars’ and the people in charge, on all sides, struggle with the grasp of their decreasing lack of artistic control.
Right from the beginning, More Life immediately sounds like it will take a different approach to its listeners. Opening the album with a soulful Hiatus Kaiynote sample, Drake soon interrupts with a quick PSA before showtime. “Free Smoke” introduces the audience to a new Drake; one that has something for anybody who he deems worthy and he has a track record to prove it. Aside from a brief humblebrag about texting Jennifer Lopez when he’s drunk, Drake declares, “I get more satisfaction outta goin’ at your head and seein’ all of you die, and I seen a lot of you die.” Drake continues the numerous boasts on “No Long Talk,” this time alongside U.K. artist Giggs, before slowing things down a bit for the majority of the album. Drake revisits the dancehall genre on “Passionfruit,” which has quickly become a fan favorite overnight and is expected to be an early single from More Life.
For many of you, “Jorja Interlude” will introduce a new name to get familiar with but, I assure you, Jorja Smith is all but unfamiliar (I suggest listening to her single “Blue Lights” and her EP, Project 11). Oddly enough, Jorja manages to give Sade-esque vibes on “Get It Together,” a song which is essentially the real-life version of the “this could be us, but you playing” meme. Drake continues the dancehall riddims on “Madiba Riddim” before transitioning into slower paced records, “Blem” and “4422” thanks to a friendly assist from the always welcomed, Sampha.
“Gyalchester” marks a distinct transition thanks to a smoke break intermission announcement from Lil Wayne, a song which also sees Drake announcing his self-proclaimed position in music (“I know I said top five, but I’m top two and I’m not two and I got one…”). “Portland” lightens the mood a bit as Quavo and Travis Scott seamlessly bounce on the flute-led instrumental without missing a beat. 2 Chainz and Young Thug jump in on the fun during the haunting, yet joyful, “Sacrifices” which sees the trio reminiscing on how far each of them have come since a life in music changed all of their circumstances.
“Nothings Into Somethings” and the Jennifer Lopez-sampled “Teenage Fever” finds Drake realizing the women from his old relationships have all moved on from him now that he has become a household name, something he still hasn’t come to grasp with. Drake gets another assist from Giggs on “KMT” before Drake gives fans a peak into what the past few years have looked like for himself, as well as his family and friends, on “Lose You” which finds the Toronto native asking everyone around him, “Did I lose you?” The feeling is all but stagnant as Drake uses “Can’t Have Everything” as a rare opportunity to remind people why he does what he does and he won’t settle for anybody attempting to discredit or take it all away from him. All the while rumors of a “beef” surfaced earlier in the year, it appears all is well between Drake and Kanye West as the two team up on “Glow” and declare the stairwell for success that the ‘mentor-mentee’ have for themselves. PARTYNEXTDOOR joins Drake on the spacey instrumental that is “Since Way Back” as the duo give fans another flawless collaboration between the two Canadian artists and “Fake Love” has seen no end in sight to its radio dominance since it was released towards the latter of 2016 and the feeling is solidified on “Ice Melts” as Drake calls upon Young Thug once more before More Life’s conclusion.
“Do Not Disturb” closes out More Life the way Drake has been known to do over years, as he spills out all of his thoughts and emotions in one, sometimes two, extended verse. This outro feels different, though, as Drake tells his fans he might be in the midst of a well-deserved break from music. “My life is set around competition and currency, taking summer off cause they tell me I need recovery. Maybe getting back to my regular life will humble me, I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary. More Life.”
If true, if Drake is on the verge of a break from the spotlight he has essentially been in from the beginning, I think we all can agree he’s earned it. Most artists rely on their executive producers and in-house producers to assist with the direction of their albums and typically find success in keeping their albums to a concise 12-14 tracks. However, Drake has regularly worked with the same inner circle since the beginning of his career and has often found album success with 16-20 tracks (Take Care, Nothing Was The Same), so it’s probably safe to assume that Drake is the exception to most rules in music right now. In fact, calling his latest effort a ‘playlist’ might be the best description one could use seeing as the general mood of Drake fans tend to range anywhere from calling my ex in a drunken outburst, to standing on couches, in four minutes or less. Drake got More Life right by embracing his platform, and success, while also still being privy enough to give fans a peek inside. Drake got More Life right by taking risks he wanted to take while also embracing his new role in music and remembering how he got there. Drake got More Life because it accomplished the task he wanted it to achieve.
More Life has something for everyone, much like all of your favorite playlists do.