After a few delays, Drake’s long-awaited playlist “More Life” made its worldwide debut on March 18th. Despite the discussions about Drake declining musically in recent years, his popularity continues to soar. Mere days after Drake became the first artist to reach 10 billion streams on Spotify, “More Life” kept the momentum going by obliterating single-day streaming records on Apple Music and Spotify.
The playlist title, “More Life”, is a Jamaican phrase coined by dancehall star Vybz Kartel to wish someone well. Considering the success of Drake’s dancehall influences have gotten gradually less subtle with every release as well as the success of “One Dance” and “Controlla,” it was safe to predict that Drake would go all out on “More Life”.
However, “More Life” wasn’t just dancehall. Drake’s desire for global dominance allows grime and afrobeat to shine. One can assume Drake’s desire to be considered more than just a rapper played a factor in the genre variety (“Hotline Bling” is not a rap song, Recording Academy!) However, that desire has sparked debate as to whether his worldwide sound search is appreciation or appropriation. Regardless of his intent and the criticisms surrounding it, the hour-and-a-half long project contains some of the most enjoyable tracks that Drake has dished out in recent memory. In case listener fatigue kicks in early, here are five highlights from “More Life”:
Passionfruit is the first “More Life” track to capture Drake’s relatively newfound tropical sound. The lyrics are nowhere near as upbeat as the song, but listening to this makes it impossible not to dance to Drake’s misery. The beat begins to calm down at the four minute mark but returns in time for listeners to move their hips for another thirty seconds. This track is equally at home on the dance floor as it is on a relaxing evening summer drive.
2. Get it Together
South African house shines in Drake’s reworking of South African dee-jay Black Coffee’s “Superman.” Unlike the original track, Bucie’s vocals are replaced by the vocals of British singer Jorja Smith. The less strict nature of the playlist allows Jorja to take center stage with Drake relegating himself to hook duty. The duet will remind listeners of Drake’s “Too Good” collaboration with Rihanna, but that isn’t to say that Smith should be replaced at all because her talent proves that she deserves every bit of spotlight in this song.
This track contains both Caribbean sound and terminology. “Blem”—Jamaican slang for “high”—is just as apt in a dancehall as “Controlla.” Drake’s at-times awkward attempts at a Jamaican accent are much less blatant than “No Long Talk.” The song remains simple lyrically, but the rhythm is groovy enough to compensate. Lionel Ritchie has a brief singing bit towards the end of the song, followed by Lil Wayne who states his intent to talk about “More Life” and promptly disappears.
Drake took a backseat in “Get It Together,” but in “4422,” he chose not to take a seat at all. The entirety of the track features South London artist Sampha’s fluid singing. Drake listeners unfamiliar with Sampha may want to listen to Nothing Was The Same’s “Too Much” to jog their memory. The simple drum beat, smooth piano, and disorienting synths are a perfect marriage for Sampha’s voice.
5. Lose You
If you’ve heard “From Time,” “Weston Road Flows,” or “30 for 30 Freestyle,” you know what to expect here. Beneath tracks such as “KMT” or “Pop Style” are hidden reminders that Drake hasn’t forgotten how to rap. “Lose You” is one example of Drake’s highly-engaging, lengthy venting sessions. I mean, what would any post-2015 Drake venting session be without the occasional shot at Meek Mill?
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