Drake Sets The Music Scene Alight With ‘More Life’ – Review

After announcing it last year, Drake has finally dropped his much anticipated project called ‘More Life’. It was meant to be released December last year but after keeping the fans waiting until this year, the waiting time is over as the Toronto rapper presents to us his newest body of work. ‘More Life’ was released on the 18th of March and was premiered on OVO Radio, Drake’s radio show on Beats 1 and while the project is classed as a playlist and not an album, ‘More Life’ has a varied array of singers, producers, songwriters and rappers involved, Drizzy keen to showcase the musical talents of others rather than having the spotlight shinned directly on him. The fact that there are 22 tracks on ‘More Life’ may suggest why there was a delay in its release, clearly this wasn’t a minor project to put together.

‘Views’ remains Drake’s most recent album, the 2016 release was a resounding mainstream success for him. The album went quadruple platinum and it also hit 1 billion streams on Apple Music, the very first album to do this. His hit song ‘One Dance’ featuring WizKid and Kyla stayed at the top of UK singles chart for 15 uninterrupted weeks, Drake clearly had a glorious 2016 and ‘Views’ certainly went down well with the fans, Drake set the bar high for himself with his fourth album, ‘More Life’ it seems has an incredibly strong act to follow.

For British fans of the 6 God, there’s a definite appeal to this playlist as it features the voices of Skepta and Giggs, juggernauts in the grime and rap game respectively as well as the jazzy-sounding Jorja Smith and soulfully-eloquent Sampha, both up & coming singers who are both precociously talented. Drake showing love to all of these artists by having them involved on the playlist with Jorja and Skepta both having interludes named after themselves is a sign of the prospering times in the UK music scene. Drake is a highly-respected artist of international appeal so for him to be acknowledging and crediting British talent in this way is huge here as Drake is showing that with hard-work, perseverance and a willingness to broaden horizons and take in new cultures and influences, he’s been able to develop and evolve as an artist. He’s shown love to the UK and London especially as far back as 2009, this is far from the first time Drake has given props to the music scene this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Going into the playlist, there can be no denying that Drake has taken inspiration from British rap artists with him adopting British slang terms within this project and as a result, it could be said that American fans of Drizzy have been left more than a little confused:

Taking it a step further, there have been many American fans critical of ‘More Life’ because of this British influence on the playlist with Giggs in particular bearing much of the ire from them despite him and his typically cutthroat aura laying down heavy bars on ‘No Long Talk’ and ‘KMT’ with the sort of demeanour that suggests he wasn’t performing at 100% of his potential during the features. Unfortunately for them, UK Twitter was more than ready to clap back. Long story short, no-one badmouths the revered ‘Landlord’ rapper without getting away it:

Away from the banter though, the playlist is generally decent. ‘More Life’ is the sort of project that will be appreciated more by those who have a more acquired taste in music, as there is such a large tracklist for this project, it’s given Drake scope to experiment with different sounds and samples that he may incorporate into future projects. The beautiful sounding production provided by South African producer Black Coffee for ‘Get It Together’ with both Drake and Jorja crooning their way through the song has that same uplifting energy about it that made ‘One Dance’ a hit last year. PARTYNEXTDOOR and Drake combine in ‘Since Way Back’, lustfully singing about a woman who got away, Drizzy clearly hasn’t forgotten about his sensual side. ‘KMT’ is sure to be a club banger here in the UK, with Giggs on any song, it’s sure to pop off, killing features is like second nature to the South London rapper. ‘4422’ showcases Sampha’s biblical singing abilities, his voice as profound as the message he’s trying to get across. However, this is the sort of body of work where you listen to it after pressing the shuffle button, it feels disjointed as there is an awful lot to take in. Due to the expansive tracklist, it can be argued that the playlist lacks coherence and with such a splattering of musicians across the project including the likes of Kanye West, Travis Scott and Quavo from Migos, this isn’t the sort of project you can take in from track 1 to track 22.

When you take in the vibes of the songs on their own individual merits, the scope is huge for certain songs to be absolutely rinsed while others get completely ignored on ‘More Life’. It all depends on the preferences of the listener but at least there’s plenty of variety for the listeners to soak up and take in. The differences in Drake’s flow and even his accent across ‘More Life’ is divisive, Drake goes from sounding aggresive on the rap-like production for ‘Free Smoke’ to opening up about personal issues, revealing a more vulnerable side in ‘Do Not Disturb’, it seems that this playlist was the perfect platform for Drake to show off the different sides to him as an artist. Drake’s apparent use of an Jamaican accent certainly isn’t to the liking of everyone but then again, ‘More Life’ draws inspiration from not only afrobeats and rap but by the Jamaican dancehall culture, his use of slang terms used on the island in the playlist may be him paying homage to a culture that he has respect for but nonetheless, it still has the effect of being alienating to some of his fanbase. Nonetheless, ‘More Life’ is worth a listen to, binge on it and take in the flavours that Drizzy tries to infuse.

‘More Life’ presents a taste of what Drake has to offer in the future, it could represent to sort of direction he wants to take when it comes to his next album. The breadth of the variety of songs in this body of work may be slightly overwhelming to some of his fans but it at least shows that he’s trying to be in the loop when it comes to the artists who are popping at the moment. The sheer number of features, credited and uncredited involved here although counter-productive in the sense that Drake didn’t really stamp down his authority on the playlist, the fact there were so many suggests there’s a healthy abundance of talent in the music scene that people should be aware of. For the acquired taste-makers in the industry, it’s a chance to simply sample the many tastes that have tickled the Canadian’s fancy.

The playlist despite only dropping Saturday last week has already broken the record for the most streams of a project in one day. It racked up 61.3 million streams on the 19th of March, beating the previous record that was held by Ed Sheeran’s ‘Divide’ album (56.7 million). Those impressive figures so soon after release highlights Drake’s popularity and appeal, ‘More Life’ looks like it could be the springboard to a greater level of consciousness for hip-hop’s man of the moment.

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Dwayne Bickersteth
TL. DM.