By Amber McLinden
Universal Music Canada
Drake’s newest album, More Life, is stylized as a “playlist” by the rapper for a good reason. While the track listing is 22 songs long, it feels like he’s unable to get a coherent message across to listeners. With a few catchy tunes that are both like and unlike Drake’s usual style, the overall theme of the album seems like something we’ve heard before.
Solo tracks make rare appearances on this album, with most songs including features from a variety of artists like grime dons Skepta and Giggs, to South African house mainstay Black Coffee, to a cast of many including Jorja Smith, Sampha, Quavo, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Young Thug, Kanye West, and PartyNextDoor.
It’s not surprising that Drake’s OVO label mate PartyNextDoor is featured on the album either, continuing a long trend of Drake hooks carrying the Toronto auto-crooner’s career. It’s these lacklustre coincidences that make the playlist less than perfect. It doesn’t help that Drake’s lyrical content covers well worn territory. Drake’s celebration of success, word of warning to the haters, and pining for women, are all themes that have been heavily overdone by him already.
What’s new on this album? Its sound is disconnected, from a relatively interesting, house-influenced “Passionfruit” to what sounds like Drake’s attempt at a club hit, the Black Coffee sampling “Get It Together.” “Portland” sounds like a beat he’s used in previous albums, with added panflute. While grime features like Giggs and Skepta definitely add value to the “playlist,” their lyricism sometimes end up standing out and being simply laughable, finishing off “KMT” with the lyric, “Batman/da-na-na-da-na.”
Looking past what’s not working on this album, some tracks do have some saving elements. The aforementioned “Passionfruit” sounds like Drake has finally realized that making things sound less like Drake means they’re commercially successful. In the same way “One Dance” infected, or rather still infects, top 40 radio stations, so can we expect “Passionfruit” to follow a similar path.
It’s no surprise that the Kanye West-featuring “Glow” is a playlist highlight. “Watch out for me/I’m bound to glow” won’t go down as one of Kanye’s most lyrically complex hooks, but it has that signature Kanye infectiousness that adds to an otherwise mediocre track.
Overall, it seems like the album was a lot of tracks that Drake had nothing to do with anymore, which explains the “playlist” stylization of the album. Individually, the songs are decent to listen to, and it’s the Drake fans are used to and that’s about it. Fans of Drake don’t expect revolutionary music from the rapper, but rarely does his music feel like this much of a grab bag.Drake, More Life, Universal Music Canada