(I know it’s a playlist, but for easier reviewing purposes I’m referring to it as an album)
I realise I might’ve slightly overrated Drake’s previous release ‘Views‘ back last year, but at the time I was pretty surprised that the Toronto rapper had come through with an overall decent, consistent project. My view on Drake, an individual I’d been pretty impartial to until that album, changed in that short time. At the end of my review I said Drake was an artist that didn’t need to prove anything anymore, and I still went into his brand new album/ playlist ‘More Life‘ believing that. But it seems that me and Aubrey didn’t share that same sentiment, as after listening to this collection of tracks just once it’s clear he’s forced himself to prove to everyone he’s something else entirely – a rapper from South London.
To sum it up in a sentence; ‘More Life‘ is the culmination of every cringe-worthy and questionable moment from ‘Views‘ put into a 22 track LP and expanded on in all the worst ways. Despite the constant criticism and jokes at his expense, Drake continues to freely dabble in sounds and phrases from Jamaican culture as if he were born from a steel drum and his first meal was jerk chicken. I personally wouldn’t have a problem with it (I didn’t when it came up on his 2016 record), but when he’s backed by instrumentals as dull and as tedious as those found here, it becomes all the more irritating. Epitomised by tracks like the lifeless ‘Passionfruit’ with it’s numbed-out keys and tiresome beat, Drake will just switch his cultural inspiration at any given moment so as to seem more interesting – yet it does the very opposite most of the time.
Other offenders like ‘Nothings Into Somethings’ and ‘Can’t Have Everything’ are some of the most forgettable tunes Drake’s ever put out, just filling out the track list with more and more padding and lengthening the nap you’ll take while it plays in the background. The rapper/ singer himself doesn’t come out with anything substantial to say either, STILL referring back to the Meek Mill beef: “Finally got my mind in a free state / Niggas tried to serve me up a cheesesteak / I gave them back a clean plate” and amazingly I’m STILL bored of hearing about it.
Then there are painful, more ‘cultured’ moments on the track list, where Drizzy really digs deep to find some way of making Dancehall music sound as boring as it can possibly be. You can tell ‘Madiba Riddim’ is the kind of pandering Drake’s been aching to pull ever since the Caribbean sound became trendy – and this track is adding to its slow death. Considering some of the stellar production the guy’s had in the past, it’s saddening to see fans accept this laziness, especially when coupled with lines like “I heard you say things that you can’t take back, girl, no time / I need you to go easy now and fix up one time”. It’s follow up ‘Blem’ is where Drake gets his high score on the game ‘How many slang words can I awkwardly force into one song?’ and it’s as awful as it gets. Here’s a drinking game idea, listen to this track and take a shot every time he uses a word that originated in Jamaica – you’ll be trashed by the end of the first verse.
I said before that Drake believes himself from South London, frantically trying to tie his sound to the Grime culture through out ‘More Life’s’ run time. It’s ironic then that most of the highlights on this record are thanks to British MCs Skepta and Giggs, the former’s interlude track embodying more energy than any Drake verse. The latter, featured twice on the LP, is a welcome addition – especially on the half-decent track ‘Kmt’ giving its dark, arpeggio-driven beat and rattling hi hats a little more character. In fact, most of the features on here are pleasantly surprising, including one Kanye West on the atmospheric slow jam ‘Glow’ who pens an enjoyable verse and shows good chemistry with Drizzy, even if people still aren’t sure what their relationship is.
Moments like these, however, are so few and far in between that they’re merely washed away in the dull, repetitive wave that much of the other tracks create here. And on a final, unrelated note, who the hell let there child play the recorder for the song ‘Portland’? As if it wasn’t trash enough.
I don’t know if Drake and his OVO team decided to call this thing a playlist because it’s a collection of tracks thrown together hap-handedly or if they realise its clear that this release is just a bunch of leftovers from ‘Views’, but it isn’t going to save them any less criticism. ‘More Life’ is uninspired complacency from an artist that we all know can do so much better if he really puts his mind to it. But Drake didn’t put his mind to this, what he did was put on his best stone island dressing gown, copy from his favourite dancehall tracks and add a bunch of new entries to his long list of the times he’s said ‘ting’ in his career. Despite a number of decent features and a handful of interesting beats, ‘More Life’ has proven that Drake is bigger than his sound – whatever he puts out, the world will eat it up. It’s just a shame the world’s eating the musical equivalent to dog food this time around.