This is not an album review. This is a playlist review. That Is right. Drake’s More Life, which dropped on March 18, was released as a playlist. For those who do not know, a Guardian article by Alexis Petridis published on Monday, March 20 quoted Drake defining a playlist generally as “‘…a collection of songs that become the soundtrack to your life.’”
Drake has resumed his trend of exploring new venues to release his music through. He has published a slew of his music in the typical formats of studio albums (think: 2016’s Views), mix tapes (e.g., 2006’s Room for Improvement), and extended plays (like 2009’s So Far Gone). However, he has also released commercial mix tapes such as 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which costs similar amounts to a studio album but is nonetheless referred to as a mix tape. This time around, Drake has ventured into new territory by releasing this musical project as a playlist, a clever marketing scheme that will surely be emulated by other artists in the near future.
What struck me about More Life is how Drake incorporated a wide variety of his prior styles into the playlist. This is likely in part due to the numerous producers who worked on this project, including such names as 40, Murda Beatz and Nineteen85. Yet I feel that Drake’s music releases generally stick to a specific style and trajectory. The songs of Views and 2011’s Take Care tend to be rather deep lyrically and more mellow when compared to the louder, cockier, party-staples of If You’re Reading This.
In his newest release, the songs do not fit such a mold. Rather, they integrate sounds from his previous releases to create a cohesive whole. For example, the fifth track, “Get It Together”, ft. Black Coffee and Jorja Smith, is reminiscent of his 2011 hit “Take Care” ft. Rihanna, both in terms of its smooth female vocals and fast-tempo rhythm. The laid-back beat and lyrical depth of the third track, “Passionfruit” builds off of similar sounds Drake solidified with 2013’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Yet he does not abandon the signature confident, hard-hitting rapping style he exemplified in 2015’s “Energy” and “Know Yourself”; one can hear it alive and well throughout the playlist, like on the tracks “Gyalchester” and “Fake Love.” To create unity between this wide variety of songs, Drake eliminated the time gap meant to transition between each song, making them less rigid and enabling them to flow right into one another.
Another highlight of More Life is its strong guest features. I was delighted to hear Kanye on the eighteenth track, “Glow,” where he sings a catchy hook and raps to a signature Kanye soul-sampled back beat. The nineteenth track, “Since Way Back,” features the talented and fellow OVO label artist PARTYNEXTDOOR teaming up with Drake on a song slower than their 2014 hit “Recognize”, but that nonetheless continues their journey of coming to terms with the rise and fall of past relationships. The eleventh track, “Portland,” features Travis Scott in his finest form, drawing on an auto-tune style perfected on 2016’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and enabling Drake to experiment with yet another layer of sound.
At 22 tracks, totaling just about 82 minutes, More Life is one of Drake’s most comprehensive and sprawling projects to date. Drake has resumed his status as an icon, and while we enjoy this release, we cannot help eagerly waiting to see where his next album (or whatever form his next musical release is in) takes us.