Drake’s newest album—or rather “playlist,”—titled More Life dropped on March 18, and by all metrics was worth the absurd wait it brought with it. The wait was longer than most people would have liked: first announced for late 2016, then pushed back to early 2017. Finally, a cryptic tweet teasing at a March 4 release date all served to get fan hopes up and create hype. When the album finally came out, I, along with a record-breaking amount of people, rushed to Spotify and Apple Music to stream it. 61.3 million people got to experience More Life together, and I’m pleased to report that it was an enjoyable experience.
The very first notes of the opening single, “Free Smoke,” were taped directly from a Hiatus Kaiyote song, which brought the listener to a calm and peaceful place. However, disjointed synth lines and a omnipotent snare line announced the arrival of Drake himself. With pulsating bass and his signature flow, Drake began talking about his life, about his money, and about how he’s simply the best rapper around. With lines like “I drunk text J-Lo / Old number, so it bounce back” and “Women I like was ignoring me / Now they like “Aren’t you adorable?” / I know the question rhetorical” Drake brags about the many women in his life, and how far he’s come since starting out. Plugs to his label OVO, and references to Lil Wayne and Steph Curry serve to remind the listener that Drake has connections and knows people as great as him.
A bit later on More Life comes the song “Passionfruit.” Blending the upbeat and hopeful drum line from “Hold on We’re Going Home” on Nothing Was The Same with the fade in-fade out background of “With You” from Views, “Passionfruit” is unmistakably Drake. As the smooth melody washes over the listener, Drake tells a story of a faltering long distance relationship. His common themes of love and trust are evident here, as he pleads with a girl not to fall apart. Although light on rapping, “Passionfruit” stands as a testament to Drake’s singing abilities. This is the type of song I’d love to play on a road trip, as it’s music to think and feel to.
That isn’t to say there’s no rap in More Life. On the contrary, it’s evident that Drake has been working on his flow. “Gyalchester” is the other story of Drake: ominous backgrounds, overbearing bass, and nothing else but his commanding voice to keep listeners in awe. There isn’t much to this song that meets the eye at first: personally, I had no idea what the title even meant until I looked it up, but the rhythm and general vibe of the song was enough to keep me interested.
Notably, More Life features a number of “unknown” artists, and even gives two of them, Jorja Smith and Skepta, interludes on the album. “Jorja’s Interlude” is more of a rap by Drake, with her smooth vocals taking precedence on the next song in the album: “Get It Together”. It’s not at all in Drake’s style: a more background-heavy track with sparse vocals and more emphasis on exotic instruments and an islander-esque drum line. Piano notes and the droning of a sitar-like stringed instruments drifts by as Jorja sings of love. By contrast, “Skepta’s Interlude” is much more of a Drake emulation. A more typical hip-hop beat accompanies Skepta’s British accent as he speaks of wealth. It’s a breath of commonality in an otherwise directionless album.
Drake called More Life a playlist rather than a typical album, and I tend to agree. There’s much more variance in this than in his other works: from the recorder background of “Portland” to the rap-sing fusion of “Fake Love”, there’s no common theme to the album. It’s a sampler pack of Drake and his styles, and I really enjoyed it. More Life was an all-around good playlist—both an excellent introduction to Drake for newcomers, and a breath of something new to grizzled veterans of Aubrey Graham.