More Life – a piece of work for the masses, not the revolutionists.
Saturday 18th March saw the release of RnB worldwide superstar, Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham’s latest offering of fresh music that would ‘become the soundtrack to your life’ – More Life. Following the release of Views in 2016, the Canadian revealed to the world he was beginning his next venture – spearheading the project with three singles; ‘Fake Love’ (which turned out to be included in the project), ‘Sneakin‘ and ‘Two Birds, One Stone’. Amongst reports, it was suggested More Life was to be released in the December of 2016, but due to an ankle injury which subsequently delayed Drake’s Summer Sixteen Tour of America, it was pushed back to January. January and February came and went, along with the absence of More Life. Further dates were continuously circling around various mediums until an official release date of March 18th was confirmed on Drake’s certified Instagram.
The Toronto-born artist had clear intentions for this project – defining it as a playlist, not an album. Along with the release’s title, a phrase used throughout Jamaican culture to wish someone well, speculation grew on what he had to offer – many wondering how much of the content would be his, and his alone. In part, some of these speculations were, in fact, true – with British artists Sampha and Skepta providing two standout songs; ‘4422’ and ‘Skepta Interlude’. Across 22 songs and at 1 hour 22 minutes long – at first it all seemed rather disjointed, I found myself being unable to get into any kind of flow – despite the tremendous beats the production team had put on offer. The hard-hitting ‘Free Smoke’ and ‘No Long Talk’ led me to believe Drake was pursuing the style we had seen post Nothing Was The Same, angrier more aggressive melodies, partnered with thunderous bass lines which became a house style to previous outputs including If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and What A Time To Be Alive.
In my naivety, I postulated 22 songs consisting of heavy beats and sharp snares that could only be consumed in brief portions. As ‘Passionfruit’ began (a week on and arguably my favourite from the playlist); showcasing a smooth and sinuous beat, making it the perfect track to ease any neutral into the upcoming summer months. In Drakes effort to satisfy as many genres as he can, the 30-year-old lingers on the Jamaican/Caribbean influences with ‘Jorja Interlude’, ‘Get It Together’, ‘Madiba Riddim’ and ‘Blem’; all with foot-tapping, funky rhythms – reminiscent of previous work ‘Controlla’, ‘One Dance’ and Rihanna feature; ‘Work’.
‘4422’ is an unofficial interlude provided by the extremely talented, South London born, Sampha. The angelic vocals employ a unique divider between the differing style in the wider context of More Life, almost creating a moment of reflection and appreciation before once again implementing the formidable partnership of heavy bass and a carefully meditated acoustic dynamic of ‘Gyalchester’ shadow the aforementioned melodies.
Unfortunately, I already find myself skipping songs – there are moments where Drake shies too far away from what makes him so recognisable. This is understandable; it is a playlist, and not all playlists adhere to the same music tastes – however, I feel he has missed an opportunity to advocate artists closer to home, a plentiful talent on offer including Majid Jordan, dvsn, Roy Woods and of course, The Weeknd. What I found most surprising when listening to this playlist (I have little interest in the UK Grime scene), is how refreshing and invigorating the influence of Giggs and Skepta is to the overall flow of More Life. I’ve become so accustomed to the, in truth, lacklustre and repetitive nature of US features like 2 Chainz, Young Thug and Travis Scott that the shift in styles is truly appreciated.
As with many others, the prospect of a Kanye and Drake collaboration was extremely impelling – however, I’m afraid I was disappointed, their track ‘Glow’ showcased a disjointed cadence and a questionable attempt at Drake being the sole vocalist – this track just doesn’t sit right with me. As soloists, they are two of my favourite – they are unique and have contrasting sounds, which for me should not be mixed. Thankfully my disgruntlement lasted only briefly, which is a credit to the concluding song; ‘Do Not Disturb’. The simple beat backed by the wavy vocals acts as a catalyst for Drake to do what he does best. Analogous with 2011’s Take Care – a style also reinvented in 2016’s Views – Graham reflects on his life with the lyrics being at the heart of the piece.
More Life does its job. There is no doubt this playlist will continue to smash records and sell in its millions progressing into the summer – Drake has the entire world in the palm of his hand; and credit to him. He has managed to transgress the limits of one genre and delve into the realms of his industry in a way that no one had done before. I will continue to listen and enjoy his music for as long as he makes it – as he concludes on the last line of the album “I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary, More Life”.