It’s a playlist not an album and this is not a review to prove otherwise.
Sometime after Napster and way before SoundCloud, there was LimeWire. Back when the only way to extract a song from the internet was to give your computer a virus by illegally mass downloading as many songs as possible. I’m talking typing in an artist’s name into the search bar and then downloading their entire catalog onto an MP3 player. This left me with nearly 300 Lil Wayne songs, all bad quality and some still floating around in my iTunes.
In 2007, I was still in high school and word of mouth was everything. Friends would tell me to download Drake’s music because “he has the co-sign from Lil Wayne,” which meant everything to us in those days. The first song I heard by him was “Going in For Life”, the mixtape was Comeback Season, the track list was 24 songs and the rest is history.
“More Life” has all the ingredients that make it a flawless playlist. Yes, this is a playlist and I recommend not shuffling it because each song seemingly blends into the next track and it’s actually pretty genius. The transition from Sampha’s beautiful vocals on “4422” merging into “Gyalchester” is the type of contrast that makes you do a double take.
There are plenty of intros and outros that Drake is so famous for including a cute voicemail from his mother Sandi. There are also countless moments on the album that deserve the spotlight like the Earth, Wind and Fire sample at the end of “Glow”, JLo’s “If You Had My Love” sample on “Teenage Fever,” Drake’s sample of himself from “Doing it Wrong” from his earlier album Take Care. Moodymann is sampled on “Passionfruit” and even Lil Wayne and his iconic lighter flick make an appearance. Tracks like “Blem” and “Madiba Riddim” showcase Drake’s love for South Africa, dancehall, afrobeat, Jamaica and Jamaican Patois. It adds cultural layers into the playlist and elevates it beyond just RnB and hip-hop.
The playlist is not cheap on superstar features either. Quavo, Travis Scott, Sampha, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Black Coffee, Skepta, Giggs, Jorja Smith and PARTYNEXTDOOR all have features on the playlist. With such a feature-heavy playlist you’d think that would take away from the man himself, but they all work so well together you still feel the 6 God’s presence.
Most importantly, this playlist features all the shade, subs and clapback from Drizzy that is highly anticipated at this point. He throws shots at Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Hov and Tory Lanez and just general shade at anyone trying to de-throne him.
For a long time I thought all of Drake’s lyrics about struggling to prove himself in his hardened rap industry and dealing with pushback from certain artists questioning his credibility was a bunch of B.S. I always enjoyed his music for what it was, but I knew he wasn’t going to be an artist with a background story like Tupac, Nas or Jay-Z. As I’ve gotten to know him through his countless albums of storytelling, it’s clear that he’s a product of an industry that thrives off of struggle. And since Drake has not inherently “struggled” like his counterparts, people hate this. It has become his narrative throughout the years and is a recurring theme. It’s a lazy way for people to write him off, not bother to take a listen and it takes away from the focus of the actual music. What it comes down to is talent and Drake, and his team, have this on many levels.
There is a difference between throwing together a bunch of artists and sounds that you think will automatically equal a successful album than actually cultivating the best from certain artists and curating their own unique sounds into a body of work. That is what a perfect feature does. To have Sampha sing his heart out on a track and then listen to Young Thug and 2 Chainz on the same playlist is not something easily achievable, but alas we have More Life with billions of streams on Spotify within the first weekend of its release.
So has Drake achieved the apex of his career? Is “More Life” his album that will finally give him that credibility he did not earn from growing up in struggle and strife?
I think, yes.
The multiple narratives that surround Drake and say that he is too soft, he makes music for women, he doesn’t come from struggle, he’s just that guy from Degrassi, his fans are annoying, he’s corny, he doesn’t write his own music and so on and so forth, need to be expelled. After 11 years and 11 albums (mixtapes/playlists) he’s remained consistent in his craft, he created his own lane and from the looks of it he’s staying in it.