Drake’s More Life is hardly groundbreaking, but does show us a darker, more mature side of the squeaky clean rapper, writes Lily Sheehan
Released 18th March via OVO Sound
First things first: More Life is not an album, apparently. It’s a ‘playlist.’ Instead of calling this 22-song, feature-laden musical project an album, as literally any other person in the world would, Drake has decided it has more in common with your average revision playlist. Perhaps he could have included some irritating Spotify adverts for authenticity.
Like many things Drake does, I don’t really understand it, but I like it anyway. Everyone’s favourite Canadian rapper (not a very competitive title) described his project as ‘the soundtrack to your life.’ No pressure, then. It seems to be a fairly accurate description — the playlist broke the Spotify record for most streams in a single day, at 61.3 million. I am eternally grateful to Drake for taking this accolade from Ed Sheeran’s ÷, notable only for managing to be bland and nauseating at the same time.
More Life explores the dark side of fame and fortune. ‘Passionfruit,’ one of the playlist’s stand-out tracks, is a welcome departure from the clunky opening songs. Drake once again explores the theme of failed relationships, the subject that has made him a multi-millionaire. “Passing up on my old ways/I can’t blame you,” he sings introspectively, cementing his place as “a reflection of all your insecurities,” as mentioned in ‘Do Not Disturb.’ Drake’s confessional nature actually makes it possible to feel sorry for a man who is worth $60 million — this is no easy feat.
The contrast between the previous track, ‘No Long Talk’ (Drake’s attempt at being ‘road’ which he somehow dragged Giggs onto) and the soulful ‘Passionfruit’ only serves to make the latter seem even better. Whilst the song is ostensibly about a long-distance relationship, it is also a reflective look at his past behaviour (very relatable) and his boredom with the touring lifestyle (not so relatable).
Drake borrows heavily from other rappers in his quest to give his songs — often more pop than rap — an edge. ‘Lose You’ reflects upon everything Drake has lost due to his fame. Over a soothing combination of the piano and a repetitive synthesiser, the rapper complains that “opinions started to burn when tables started to turn.” ‘Lose You’ could easily have been inspired by Kanye West’s ‘Real Friends,’ which makes his feature on ‘Glow’ an even greater disappointment, lacking both musical and emotional depth.
‘Can’t Have Everything’ uses a voicemail from Drake’s mother, similar to Frank Ocean’s ‘Be Yourself.’ In keeping with the ‘fame is shit’ theme, this reminds the listener that Drake is a person and not simply a vehicle for Instagram hate. Drake and Future’s 2015 mixtape What a Time to be Alive was a caricature of the brainless, braggadocious face of rap; introspective and mature, More Life is its total opposite. It is a modern retelling of the age old adage: be careful what you wish for.
More Life could be described as something of an identity crisis for Drake. When looking over the tracklist for the first time, I immediately cringed at ‘Blem’ and ‘Gyalchester.’ I laughed out loud when he said “habibi” on ‘Portland.’ Falling just shy of cultural appropriation, this playlist will inform white Americans of the existence of British grime in the most sanitised way possible, just as Views did for dancehall. Both ‘Jorja Interlude’ and ‘Skepta Interlude’ are excellent, but they can hardly be classified as Drake songs — he is almost a featured artist on them.
Perhaps bored of his winning formula, Drake has attempted to mix it up on More Life, but it is hardly a musical innovation. It shows us a darker side of rap’s commercially viable sweetheart, which leads me to ask: is everything okay, Drake?