Canadian rapper Drake is arguably one of the biggest names in the modern scene and given the old guards distaste for him I never actually listened to the guy until Youtube's autoplay feature spun a few tracks. I like his style, its easy and inviting, with him being from my generation you can hear strong influences from the likes of Kanye West and Eminem in his approach to the craft. This newest release was possibly an odd place to start, the better lyrical themes revolve around a man who's climbed to the top and is now mystified to the pressures and contradictions of those heights, as he says you get praise on the way up and when you reach the summit everyone takes aim.
After four albums "More Life" is classified as a playlist, it even says "A playlist by October Firm" which I find odd given the lack of flow the album has. There are three or so different themes and ideas colliding here on a lengthy release that amasses eighty one minutes without a sense of direction. Between a collection of more "traditional" tracks Drake dives into swooning soulful vibes on tracks like "Passionfruit" as some subtle auto tune singing plays sweetly into a summery, jazzy laid back instrumentals fit for relaxing in the sun. Breaking up the pace, the inclusion of English Grime rappers like Giggs and Skepta sets a contrasting tone for another theme that takes hold, the "badman" raps, acting mean and menacing on the beat, dropping laughable rhymes like "batman! dun-nu-nut neh-neh".
The album opens with Nai Palm of Kaiyote Hiatus singing, a sample lift from their latest record, slightly confusing as it doesn't provide much of a link for the banging "Free Smoke" to roll of from. After a dark badman track with Giggs the album rolls into a groove with a string of indulgent songs boasting some Jazz, Downtempo and Dance influences to blur the Hip Hop lines as Drake flexes with tuneful sung raps. As the flow is broken up we get a track from Travis Scott, who's Rodeo album has massively grown n me. In his typical style we get what feels like a leftover beat, an insentient flute melody loops all the way through as excessive reverbs and auto-tuned vocals drone on. A cringey "skirt skirt" slang cries out in such a cliche way for these sometimes tiresome trap songs. Its a low point in that album that track to track goes all over the place.
"Teenage Fever" was surprising track, moody, slow and introspective vibes are pulled together for a fantastic chorus lifting lyrics from the Jenifer Lopez song "If I Had Your Love". Its a diabolical Pop song from the naughties that I never thought I would enjoy, even in this abstract way. After this point the music slowly winds down with spacious tracks that don't stir much of a reaction. The best of the record comes when it detours from the traditional "Hip Hop" song conventions. Drake's lyrics are also engaging when hes not singing, the perspectives on the turn of success speak loud and his engaging style leads you on a clear path through his thoughts. Its been a reasonable introduction in which the talent is visible but the arrangement of this record and inability to focus in a direction often dispels the mood some tracks muster leaving the impression of an hastily assembled collection of songs.
Favorite Tracks: Free Smoke, Passionfruit, Get It Together, Madiba Riddim, Blem, Sacrifices, Teenage Fever