Drake's "More Life" Album Review PT. I
Tracklist (PT. 1):
6. Madiba Riddim
10. Skepta Interlude
1. Free Smoke
2. No Long Talk
4. Jorja Interlude
5. Get It Togerther
The hip-hop king of catchy melodies has returned with a "playlist". A super enjoyable playlist. We have to talk about the whole playlist thing. It has to be an attempt at trying to remarket the whole mixtape name and connotation that comes with it. Whether it is about getting out of full length LP contracts, a way to market a mixtape to be sellable, or to just try and be fresh or edgy, we still get an amazing project at the end of the day. More Life is just what it is. Front to back energy for anyone that enjoys the direction that Drake has been heading in, with some throwbacks to the old Drake as well. This review will be done in two parts due to the length of the album and how I like to speak on every song.
More Life opens up with a couple songs calling out any adversaries of Drake and his team. "Free Smoke" begins with a nice sample of Hiatus Kaiyote's track "Building A Ladder" before getting into the braggadocious track about coming from nothing to being able to drunk text celebs and betting shots with NBA all-stars. Drake references his track "Light Up" that features Jay Z letting Drizzy know that other rappers are going to go after him but Drake is loving the attention and doesn't hesitate when it comes to bodying other artists like Meek Mil for example. In the next track "No Long Talk, we get the first of two Giggs features on More Life. Drake's involvement in BBK and the grime scene in the UK in general has given opportunities for many UK artists to be a part of the Canadian's record breaking releases. Grime is still something that some of my friends and I are testing the waters with and I don't know if Giggs makes a great case for it in this song. The song sheds light on the idea that Drake has these guys around him (Chubbs, Baka, etc.) that will "fix things" even though many still see Drake as a soft guy, we might not know about the dealings going on behind closed doors. Now Drake hits a stride with "Passionfruit", the cool evening island breeze blows through this song about having issues with a long distance relationship. "Passionfruit" is the track that people who enjoy the R&B side of Drake are going to love, I mean, they already do as it made it to number 3 on the charts. The lines "Passionate from miles away, Passive with the things you say, Passing up on my old ways" are clever and I can't help but sing along with the catchy melody. 40 brings us back to the Take Care days with the production on "Jorja Interlude" and the use of the Stevie Wonder harmonica sample from "Doing It Wrong". Drake raps about being told that he is working too hard and he looks exhausted and he says they are right but it is because of the people around him, not from the effort he puts in to his art. Jorja Smith makes a second appearance on "Get It Together" and does an amazing job too. Her vocals are pure emotion and the harmonies between her and Drake compliment each other perfectly.
Continuing the dancehall trend with "Madiba Riddim", Frank Dukes and Nineteen85 create a beat with ominous "ooohs" and pleasent carribean-like guitar riffs throughout. Drake sing raps about not knowing who his real friends are and making sure to get distance from them from time to time to clear his head and make sure they are not just using him. This song has my favourite pre-chorus with the lines about man turning "fool for the money" and girls turning "their back on friends" too often. Toronto producer T-Minus hits us with another beautiful island beat on "Blem" allowing Drake to continue the little Jamaican flavour he has added to these last few tracks on More Life. Before the beat switch at the end of the track Drake goes into being too high and confessing his feelings for a girl and begging her not to run back to her ex but to come with him to the islands. We get a little Lionel Richie "All Night Long" sample at the end of the track as well as a little outro from Lil Wayne and the classic lighting of the cigarette. "4422". Sampha. Amazing. The "Too Much" star on Drake's Nothing Was The Same is hot off his one solo LP Process to bring us some spectacular vocals for this song. "4422" has some theories about the meaning circling around that it is related to Sampha's childhood home or to the bible verse 44:22 from Isaiah that deals with forgiveness. It is evident however that Sampha is dealing with trust issues and starting things fresh but having expectations crushed in the end of it all. Here comes bravado Drake walking through "Gyalchester" with his cheesy lines like "I don't take naps" and "I can't take a knee 'cause I'm wearing all white". This song bangs and Drake's attitude about being top five has changed to number one adds to the vibe. Making money is no longer an issue for him if he doesn't rap anymore because of the amount of things he is involved in now, claiming to be a mogul just like Hov himself. I liked the idea of ending part one of this review with "Skepta's Interlude" because the album takes a turn afterwards towards a more mainstream sound. Skepta kills this song and does a stellar job of bringing the ever growing grime genre to Drake's massive audience. He proves he is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to hip-hop in general and he is the man to go to to get grime out of the UK and onto a global scale.
More Life continues to impress in part 2 with phenomenal features and some classic introspective Drake. Part 1 saw Drake improving on his take on dancehall and grime inspirations by commisioning very talented producers/artists. With record breaking streaming numbers, flow stealing rumours, and the fact that this isn't even credited as an album really solidifies Drake's popularity. It takes Kendrick Lamar to drop a full length to make a dent in Drake's numbers. Love this project so far.