By: Guuto Dolal
Drake is without a doubt the most popular rapper of today. Nobody has been able to conquer the Top 40 charts and make heavy rap bangers like him. A versatile and popular artist, he carries that into his new album/playlist More Life, as it’s a pleasantly surprising mix of Caribbean dancehall and modern trap. After his lacklustre 2016 record Views, many fans felt as if Drake had reached his peak and his career would begin to fade. But More Life has the growth and creativity that can refuel his career—More Life is the project fans wished Views would be.
Drizzy opens More Life with two heavy atmospheric tracks to set the tone. The opener “Free Smoke” quickly explores the last year of the rapper’s life, from ghostwriting allegations to his relationship with Jennifer Lopez. Drake’s confidence seeps through the speakers on this track as he reminds the world of his place on top of the rap game. This attitude continues on the next track “No Long Talk” with help from London grime artist Giggs. The rapper also appears later on the album for the song “KMT” which is one of his strongest features. The track leaves the listener wanting more as the aggressive rap flows complement the aggressive instrumental.
Additionally, Drake maintains his emotional side on this album. His delivery has improved thus making the tracks catchier and more enjoyable overall. “Lose you” and “Teenage Fever” both demonstrate the softer side to the 6 God, with the latter using a smooth sample of Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love” as the chorus giving it a nostalgic feeling. Drake expresses this side of himself best on the third track “Passionfruit,” as he infuses a Caribbean dance hall instrumental with a lively vocal performance reminiscent of his flow on “Too Good” with Rihanna. This track explores the perils of long distance relationships and the tension the rapper feels in them. Tracks like this ground the album and help listeners find an affinity with the 6 God.
Some of Drake’s bad habits follow him on the track “Fake Love.” This is the obligatory radio single that we get with any project from the OVO frontman and with a long track list of 22 songs, it should have been cut. The light heartedness of the track clashes with the songs that surround it, making it feel out of place. “Fake Love” would have done better being released as a single separate from More Life.
It’s also clear that Drake is trying to create this year’s hip hop summer anthem, with an all-star line up on the track “Portland.” Features from Atlanta stars Quavo (of Migos) and Travis Scott, who are both coming off strong records, help boost this track immensely. Quavo delivers a verse that sounds like something off 2017’s Culture, giving the track that Atlanta touch.
The production on this project is world class with a stacked production team that includes notable Canadian producers Noah “40” Shebib and Matthew “Boi-1da” Samuels. Kanye West, PartyNextDoor, and Frank Dukes also have production credits with the first two featured on the songs they produced as well. Drizzy’s influences are heard all over the instrumentals. Grime and R&B are clear influences for the artist but dance hall and trap is what pushes More Life past Drake’s previous projects. His connection to the Islands are evident on songs like “Blem” or “Madiba Riddem.” The former has an average instrumental supporting it but Drake’s dancehall inspired delivery helps make this track stand out.
Overall, More Life is the album everyone wished Views would be. We hear Drake’s growth continuously through the project. Whether it be grime, R&B or dancehall, Drakes delivers his lyrics confidently. Like the title of this project, this album gives Drakes career more life. It is undoubtedly his strongest release and It not only assures fans that Drake still has the ability behind the mic, but also cements his place as the best Canadian rapper ever.
(Feature image: More Life, Young Money Entertainment)