Review: Drake’s ‘More Life’ playlist is an iconic blend of many different sounds
Rarely do music fans crave a playlist from their favourite artist, but in More Life, the typically astronomical expectations attached with any release from Drake are once again effortlessly surpassed. Comprised of 22 eclectic tracks that deftly capture a range of sounds and emotions, More Life is a reminder that Drake is not only firmly in his own lane, but is also in full control of the entire motorway, so by the time everyone else gets going, he’s already miles ahead.
Kicking things off is ‘Free Smoke’, which sees Drizzy stunt with arrogant raps from the get go with bars about drunk texting Jennifer Lopez to firing shots at Meek Mill like ‘how you let the kid fighting ghost writing rumours turn you into a ghost’. The second track, ‘No Long Talk’ is one of two features with Giggs, immediately bringing to life Drizzy’s recent comments about how he thinks the best rappers in the world come from London. That declaration is embodied fully on More Life, as two of the biggest anthems on the project, i.e., songs that might turn a club upside down, involve Giggs.
‘No Long Talk’ is the project’s second track, lighting up your headphones early on with that straight hard stuff from Hollowman aka the one who never lacks on a feature. Drake opens things up with a cold verse inspired by UK slang before Giggs destroys the beat that also wouldn’t sound of place as an instrumental on an SN1 project. The beat behind ‘Kmt’ has a bassy American trap feel to it, and as soon as Giggs says ‘bringing that dirty dirty, bringing that certy’, it’s game over. That verse is getting reloaded 15 times, no questions asked.
The long wait for a Skepta feature on a Drake project is over as Skeppy lights up his interlude, who like Giggs, brings his purest and best form to the beat. Alright, it’s not a Skepta x Drake song, but what it’s also not is some compromised form of fake American rap, but rather, the best form of each UK artist he recruited, which also applies for Jorja Smith on ‘Get It Together’ and Sampha on ‘4422’. We’re treated to a brief skit from Dave at the end of ‘Teenage Fever’, whilst London-based producer Nana Rogues produced ‘Passionfruit’, so Drake’s love for London can’t be understated on More Life. He even uses UK slang like ‘wasteman’, ‘fam’ and ‘ting’ as if he spent his earlier years running for a packed, sweaty 75 from Lewisham to Croydon every morning. If that wasn’t UK enough, there’s also a track called ‘Gyalchester’, which features a telling bar about switching flows like time zones, pointing towards Drake’s unrivalled diversity, which is never more evident than on More Life.
The ability to mould his sound to fit any style like some sort of musical chameleon is definitely not lost on More Life, from snappier, shorter London-sounding bars on ‘Kmt’ to longer deliveries that compliment the slower flute melodies and auto tuned deliveries of Quavo and Travis Scott on ‘Portland’. ‘Passionfruit’ has a similar feel to One Dance with its Dancehall rhythm and gentle beat and Drake again reminds of his ability to cast a mainstream audience on certain sounds with another Dancehall-inspired hit in ‘Madiba Riddim’.
Jennifer Lopez’s ‘If You Had My Love’ is sampled for the hook on ‘Teenage Fever’, one of a few tracks along with ‘Nothings into Somethings’ that brings that drunk-calling, slow singing vibe found on Take Care. Equally, that stunt on them flow isn’t lost either, as tracks like ‘Gyalchester’ and ‘Free Smoke’ remind with that slick arrogant rap, and the singalong figment of Drake’s music is no clearer than in ‘Fake Love’. Basically, what didn’t Drake bring to this project?
The playlist element to More Life helps explain the sheer numbers of features. If this is truly going to be a ‘soundtrack to your life’, as Drizzy intended, then variety is everything. Enter, the superstar list of features, which besides the strong UK features, also includes Kanye West, Young Thug, Quavo, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz and PARTYNEXTDOOR. There are more guest appearances than usual for a Drake project, and the decision to bring them all out pays huge dividends. Crucially, the vast range of features offer the diversity of music needed to serve More Life’s intended purpose of being a playlist and not another Drake album or mixtape.
When Quavo says ‘hell na, never let these n***** ride your wave’, it felt like a summer anthem had been born, as the auto tune vibe throughout meshes well with the flutes on the beat to birth a certified anthem. ‘Sacrifices’ sees Young Thug lay down potentially his best ever verse. That mumble rap takes a backseat as Thugga the lyricist sprays over the heavy-hitting piano keys that guide the beat, with 2 Chainz bringing a level of finesse to his verse that to this day, people still sleep on.
Two of the UK’s biggest heavyweights, Giggs and Skepta, bring the sounds of UK rap and grime respectively, with Jorja Smith and Sampha providing soulful British vocals that contrast well with the slow RnB sounds PARTYNEXTDOOR brings to ‘Since Way Back’. ‘Glow’ sees Kanye West spray those arrogant but conscious raps found in his earlier albums, spliced in-between Drake’s softer vocals. More Life is like a space for a bunch of sick artists to come together and do what they do best without compromise, blended with Drake’s unrivalled range of flows, aptly laying to rest questions about what’s meant by a playlist, and probably setting a trend for more playlists in future.
The playlist that is More Life exceeds expectations on all fronts. The project has 22-tracks, more songs than any of Drake’s other projects, and above all, it serves its intended purpose. Many people might’ve been clueless as to what the playlist element of the project would entail, but after listening it becomes crystal clear that More Life is a soundtrack like no other with its sheer diversity. Once again, Drake leads hundreds of miles from the front with another iconic project, only this time, one which delivers a plethora of great music through an entirely unique format.
Buy More Life here.
Words by Ajay Rose