Album cover courtesy of Drake
Review by Peter Goldman
This past Saturday, Drake debuted his playlist More Life on his Apple Radio show, OVO Sound Radio. This 22 track playlist - sonically spanning from “One Dance”-style dance hall, “Marvin’s Room”-style sung tracks, and If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late-esque bangers - includes features from the likes of Kanye West, Travis Scott, Quavo, Young Thug, and more. Additionally, it features a strong UK Grime influence, evidenced by 2 features by Giggs and a Skepta track featured as an interlude.
More Life seems very self aware, with Drake fully understanding his influence on the entire music industry. He bounces from style to style, showcasing his versatility, instead of attempting to create a cohesive sonic experience. Rap’s trendsetter, Drake experiments with new styles, both lyrically and sonically, with the confidence of a man who knows his place in the industry. More Life feels almost like a preview, serving as a glimpse of the next few months of rap music.
Commercially, More Life has already been a smash-hit. In the first 24 hours, it shattered streaming records, with almost 90 million Apple Music streams and an additional 61 million coming from Spotify. On iTunes, he managed to hold 21 of the top 22 most streamed songs, with each song on the album placing in the top 30.
Some standout tracks include opener “Free Smoke,” in which Drake raps his dominance over the rap game andtakes shots at Meek Mill and Jay Z, and “Blem,” a song borrowing its title from UK slang for being stoned, a Caribbean-influenced track about being real with a girl. Additionally, the sensual “Passionfruit,” a song detailing the trials and tribulations of long-distance romance, is an early contender for the song of the summer.
More Life feels like a new type of album. Drake isn’t afraid to let others shine, allowing Skepta his own song. This is not a new phenomenon; on Take Care, Drake allowed Kendrick Lamar to shine on the “Buried Alive Interlude.” On “4422,” rising crooner Sampha provides the majority of the vocals. The mood and sound bounce around, from upbeat, braggadocious raps, to introspective and emotionally-charged songs. An album as comfortable front to back as shuffled and left to play, Drake simply allows himself to take over, as curator of an eccentric musical experience. Drake understands who he is, and uses More Life to let the world know he is still on top.