Is Drake a one-trick pony or is he capable of deviating from his largely archetypical music? Well, the answer still isn’t exactly clear, but his new album More Life brings exactly that to his artistry: more life and a refreshing flair to his typical antics.
More Life was released on March 18, marking Drake’s fifth studio album. Well, “album” isn’t exactly the correct terminology, according to the young artist. He instead labels the musical compilation as a “playlist.”
This deviation from the typical labels of album or mixtape highlight an attempt at a paralleled deviation from Drake’s typical trajectory. Such is to be expected after his widely successful fourth album Views in spring of 2016, raising the golden question—how do you top this?
You don’t. Instead, you try to generate a divergent experience, hoping that a complete distinction from what was previously lucrative will allow a different set of expectations. Whether or not Drake achieves this diversion, however, seems to be the lingering inquiry.
As far as production is concerned, nearly the same slew of record labels crafted the work, adding in OVO Sound to the Young Money, Cash Money, and Republic trio. A new mix of featured artists worked to shift the creative team of the playlist, including the likes of PartyNextDoor, Kanye West, Travis Scott, and 2 Chainz.
While Views dropped its first single within weeks of the entire album’s release, the promotion of More Life dates all the way back to the fall with the release of “Fake Love” on Oct. 23. The hit single touches on the deceptive motives and actions of those surrounding Drake and his fame, versing, “I got fake people showin’ fake love to me.” The song mixes R&B sounds with a strong, bass-invigorating beat, generating almost machine-like, nearly Bop It-esque vibrations enclosing the drop of the chorus. Although the overall sound of the piece does resemble Drake’s typical rap style, it does signal that Drake is seeking the anti-fake in More Life, offering a more genuine interpretation of rap.
Particular standouts that reflect this goal are “Passionfruit,” “Blem,” and “Sacrifices.” “Passionfruit” utilizes a steady, clapping beat with almost reggae undertones. It captures the relationship struggle of the fine line between passion and toxicity that creates distance, “Passionate from miles away / Passive with the things you say.” “Blem” capitalizes on the reggae tones, even with Drake’s usual rap voice possessing a sort of Jamaican twang, and uses emphatic pausing intermittently between the abstract flow of sound underneath another persistent beat. Crowned with an emotional piano introduction and interludes, “Sacrifices” displays Drake’s gratefulness for his success and includes the audacious remarks of Young Thug and 2 Chainz in their separate verses regarding their rise to fame.
As in most of his albums, Drake continues to perpetuate his stereotype as the notoriously emotional rapper who reminisces over breakups in such songs as “Nothings into Somethings,” saying, “Did I just read that you just got engaged on me?” Back in “Free Smoke” he does the same thing with a blatant name drop of his recent ex, rapping, “I drunk text J-Lo.”
All 22 tracks in Drake’s playlist, when listened to in succession, could be mistaken for one long song that shifts slightly in mood and sound but altogether provides an enjoyable auditory experience. The performances of the female vocalists on tracks such as “Do Not Disturb” and “Free Smoke” refresh this stream of music with nearly euphoric buoyancy that contrasts poignantly with the harshness of the majority of the rhythm.
So perhaps More Life doesn’t seek to reinvent rap and aim for the rhythmic stars. It grants a contagious pulse with resonating lyrics and beatific new vocals and will surely find a home in the saved music of many a Spotify user.
Featured Image By Republic Records