In less than a year’s time, Drake dropped his mixtape inspired playlist “More Life” as a follow up to the hugely popular “Views.” For the most part, “Views” received a mix of praise and criticism. As with all upcoming Drake releases, but especially for this follow-up to “Views” in particular, the anticipation for “More Life” was at an all time high. As for all highly anticipated albums, expectations are to follow. I am here to say, if your expectations were reasonable, “More Life” won’t just be your summer hashtag, but more so your summer 17’ soundtrack. If your expectations were anything more than realistic or you were hoping for “Take Care 2”, you might be left wanting more from “More Life’s” 22 tracks, 82 minutes, melting pot of greatness.
Drake immediately asserts himself on the playlist’s first track “Free Smoke.” “Free Smoke” serves at statement to any and all challengers of his throne. That still includes Meek Mill. He raps in the third verse, “ I didn’t listen to Hov on that old song, When he told me pay it no mind, I get more satisfaction outta goin’ at your head, And seein’ all of you die.” This line draws reference to Drake’s first studio album, “Thank Me Later,” where Jay gives Drake advice on how to maneuver through the treacherous realities of the rap game. Just as it was inevitable for Jay at one point in his career, allegations of ghost writing would give rise to the need of a response, and the world saw this manifest itself with Drake’s “0 to 100.” In verse four, Drake may have put the final dagger in the Meek saga, with rapping “Ghost writin rumors turn you to a ghost…free shmoke, free shmoke.” “Free Smoke” could have easily been substituted for the title, “Who’s Next?”
For many, “Passionfruit” is the gem on the playlist. This is the first time Drake worked with producer Nana Rogues, and here, Drake delivers a passion fueled number detailing the struggle of long distance relationships and everything that accompanies them. He sings, “Passionate from miles away, Passive with the things you say, Passin’ up on my old ways, I cant blame you” The simplicity in these words somehow find a way to resonate deep into our emotional brains. It allows for a moment of reflection in which we place ourselves in a moment of time where we felt the sting of passive aggressive comments from a significant other and the tough understanding that this relationship is not going to work, and maybe, even as a result of our own doing.
Less than halfway through, another notable track for myself is “Gylachester.” This track touches on a number of topics ranging from luxury items and status, but its Drake’s flow that makes it undeniably fun to listen to. Each line is delivered with such force and a tonality that speaks to Drake’s comfortability with who he is in 2017. He raps, “Hermes link, ice-blue mink, tat on my ribs like I do not know what permanent is, they want me gone, wait for the kicker, bury me now and I only get bigger, that’s word to my n****” Clearly Drake recognizes that at this point, his body of work and personal imprint on the rap game is “permanent,” with or without him.
A “Trailblazer” can be equally referred to as an innovator or pioneer. The 11th track on the playlist, “Portland” featuring Quavo and Travis Scott, is likely a reference to the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, and is thus, Drake’s way of alluding to the idea, he sets trends and doesn’t follow them. He raps, “Don’t come around thinkin’ you getting saved, Tryna show the dogs brighter days, Got a torch, tryna light away.” Although I personally prefer Drake the rapper-singer opposed to singer-rapper, his style and delivery was once an un-listened territory that many “hip-hop heads” were unwilling to adopt until the genius behind it overcame doubts and naysayers. Subsequently, many of the younger artist’s as of recently are following suit.
My personal favorite on “More Life,” is “Lose You.” For those who have suggested Drake has deviated from his introspective thoughts and humility in his music, “Lose You,” indicates that he hasn’t. He tackles the personal struggle of how ones commitment to a certain idea leads to ones insecurity of whether their relationships of family, friends, and significant others have been maintained. Drakes desire to this commitment is demonstrated when he raps, “My competition, its beyond offensive, I’m in it for the glory, not the honor mention, Not tryna be fourth and inches, I’m tryna go the distance” However, its juxtaposed by the consequences of such a commitment to being the greatest in his field. He raps, “Only child that’s takin’ care of his mother, As health worsens and bills double, that’s not respectable all of a sudden, I don’t get a pat on the back for the come up?” There is this constant battle between personal growth and sacrifices that has been thematic in much of Drake’s music, and when addressed on tracks like “Lose You,” we the listener get lost in the music and our own self-examinations.
“Do Not Disturb” was the last track on the album. And like all final tracks on any Drake album, he furiously approaches this one. Drake alludes to taking some time off. “Takin’ summer off, ‘cause they tell me I need recovery, Maybe gettin’ back to my regular life will humble me, I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary”
This time off will be much needed for Drake, but more importantly for all of us fans. He has spoiled us with material like his mentor Lil Wayne at one point or another. It’s time that we are forced to remind ourselves that we take his greatness for granted.
For those who feel “More Life” doesn’t meet their expectations, its important to note, Drake doesn’t have the luxury of any age group of fans retroactively appreciating his work, especially not my age group listening to his music. We are all living in Drakes moment right now. There’s such an expectation for anything he does, and I don’t think any artist, including the greatest of all time, has had this type of pressure facing them prior to a release. And I think we all have to be patient with Drake, through everything. If you’re a Drake purist such as myself, you may not like the direction he’s going in. There are less tracks of substance and more tracks of superficial ideologies, but if your reasonable, as I try to be, the two can comfortably coexist.
Ten years from now, when Drake has two or three more classics under his belt, maybe the mark missed on this one for some, wont sting so much. Until then, I will eagerly await his return in 2018. ~ Toons
-photos by @jazmiyagi