Last week, Drake released More Life, and as with all Drake releases, it was an event. I looked at the Trending Topics on Twitter shortly after Drake began premiering it on his Beats One show, and something like half the topics were related to the album. I had a flight that afternoon, so I began downloading the album the minute it became available. It was going to be the soundtrack of my flight to Europe. I didn’t expect to find myself listening to it throughout the week, but I found time to sneak the album — excuse me, playlist — in whenever I could. Now that I’ve had a week to list to the album, I’ve got a few thoughts.
1) Great album. This is probably my second favorite Drake album, to date. My favorite remains the even-more-suddenly-released “If you’re reading this, it’s too late,” which opens with “Legend,” which is a perfect companion piece to “Started from the Bottom.” (I use both songs as personal theme songs)
2) I. Is there anyone who has started or ended more lines in songs with the word “I” than Drake? This is a guy who will actually bookend a phrase with “I.” I’m not complaining, I. I just feel like he’s used that trope a bit, I. I know I’m not one to talk since I never wrote a hit, I.
3) Kanye. Would this album sound like this if The Life of Pablo had not existed? The Life of Pablo was an attempt at as much mixtape as album and featured abrupt beat changes and song-blending from which More Life seemed to take the Baton and run. THEN. THEEEEEN. Then there’s the duet between Kanye and Drake that features them rapping and singing over each other in a way that I don’t think I’ve heard in a hip hop song before. It’s so invigorating.
4) Giggs and Skepta. Skepta is given his own track, and Giggs, who sounds like a grime Dave East, gets two features. Maybe it’s going to take a Canadian to popularize grime. I’m glad he gave these guys time to shine because they deepen the flavor on this album. It’s not just grime – it’s music from all over the world that Drake has been exposing us to, and for that I’m appreciative. I still, however, will never listen to anything that’s been categorized as World Music. Ugh. I’m such an American.
5) Passionfruit. I love the intro to this. It reminds me of that Beastie Boys song that starts with “If this is gonna be that kind of party…” It took a while for this song to grow on me, though, but after a few listens, it’s clear that this is going to be the Hotline Bling or Hold On, We’re Going Home of this album. Definitely feels more like a winter song than a Spring or Summer one, though.
6) Drake whenever a woman expresses free-will and self-direction:
7) Perfect ending. This may have the most perfect ending to a rap album (or any album) that I’ve heard:
My life is centered ’round competition and currency/
Takin’ summer off, ’cause they tell me I need recovery/
Maybe gettin’ back to my regular life will humble me/
I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary
There’s just nothing that sums up Drake’s perspective as an artist than this. Think of how much you know about Drake’s life compared to any other rapper out there. There’s maybe no one other than Eminem who has made as much out of exposing their life to their audiences through music.
8) Lighter but still bleak. This album is definitely more buoyant than Views, but that’s not a difficult feat. Whenever I feel like I’ve got problems, I know I can turn on a Drake song and hear how much worse things could be. Just think, you could be a multimillionaire who has just triumphed in one of the most notable rap battles of a generation and still be sad because…. um… because someone wrote a mean song about you and some girl doesn’t want to hookup with you?
9) Young Thug. Ok, I give in. After his feature on Sacrifices, I finally like Young Thug.
10) What is going on in rap right now? This is less about this album and more about hip hop right now. If you look at what we’ve seen this year, this may be the best season for hip hop since the fall of 98. The flow innovator, Big Sean, dropped an exceptional album that we’d still be talking about if not for the beef that erupted between Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj that resulted in the vicious attack, shETHER, from Remy and the 3 Pack from Paris response from Nicki (who hasn’t stopped throwing jabs). But before we could get over that, Rick Ross released the lavish Rather You Than Me, which featured a track that went straight for Birdman’s jugular. A DAY after that, Drake gave us More Life, and then a couple days after that, Kendrick lashed out with The Heart, Pt. IV, which put everyone on notice. This was all before Spring! You could be forgiven for forgetting that Childish Gambino released an album a couple months ago, that Chance the Rapper won a Grammy for Coloring Book, and that A Tribe Called Quest gave us a near masterpiece a few months ago.