Album Reviews, Arts & Entertainment, Music

Staff roundup: Drake – ‘More Life’

In More Life, Drake’s propensity for picking up Caribbean sound and slang is strong, and his growing paranoia of the people around him is stronger. Still, Drake’s talent lies in his humour and humility, and a few moments on More Life demonstrate that he hasn’t fully lost that yet. 

Drake shows a sincere commitment to putting on black diasporic music, from South African house producer Black Coffee to Jamaican-Canadian dancehall producer Boi1da. Drake does well with “Get It Together,” where Brit teen Jorja Smith carries an emotion-soaked melody over African house drums, and “Madiba Riddim,” an afrobeat-nod. Cool, jazzy “Passionfruit” is another stand out, remnisicent of 2015’s “Sweeterman.” Though More Life’s cultural taste-testing is rightfully questionable, these stand-out tracks show that, at the very least, Drake is a masterful curator of borrowed sounds.  

—April Barrett, Managing Editor

I had high hopes for Drake after the disappointing VIEWS release last April, but More Life fails to make up for its predecessor. That said, a personal highlight on More Life is when Drake spills on his failed attempts to drunk text Jennifer Lopez on “Free Smoke.” Songs like “Blem” and “Madiba Riddim” are drenched in island sounds accompanied by Caribbean slang that Drake has for some reason recently acquired. So, if you’re tired of ‘Jamaican Drake,’ this is not the playlist for you. 

The horde of features tends to overshadow Drake­. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Drake is referring to his new work as a “playlist” instead of an album. He’s moving from centre stage to create a tribute to his most respected artists.

—Morgan Davis, Staff Writer

The boy is back. It’s clear off the hop that More Life proves to be a sleek, polished, and eclectic work that offers more than last year’s VIEWS. The playlist includes Drake’s traditional mix of fiery bangers, like the opener “Free Smoke,” and cool R&B jams, such as “Teenage Fever,” but Drake also experiments with other genres. “Get it Together” is a catchy house song, and Drake dabbles in grime on “No Long Talk” and “KMT.” Lyrically, Drake reiterates the same familiar idioms—drunk texts to exes, hypocritical ruminations about his insecurities, and firing shots at enemies. A strong cast of collaborators from Kanye West to Jorja Smith helps to diversify the sound of More Life.

—Jordan Foy, Contributor

Even before I listened to the songs, I found More Life’s “playlist” branding gimmicky and self-indulgent.  

Album opener “Free Smoke” seems to mark a genuinely unique musical experience. The lyrics that follow, however, launch Drake back into whiny territory. Along with a petty, attention-grabbing reference to drunk texting Jennifer Lopez, the track falls in line with Drake’s usual complaints.

More Life is not without highlights. “Glow”—Drake’s collaboration with Kanye West—is my favourite on the album, especially when Kanye references “Started from the bottom now here we go.” Nai Palm and Kanye’s contributions are memorable, but if Drake had emphasized different artists even more heavily, the album could have been a bona fide playlist.

 —Ariella Garmaise, Staff Writer

Drake’s More Life is a pseudo-emotional playlist that fails to innovate. Capitalizing once again on self-indulgent tirades against past flings, Drake missed a golden opportunity to differentiate himself from his sad boy image. Somehow, even the album’s “feel-good” songs are tainted with self-pity. From “Blem” onwards, every track trudges along at the same slow, droning pace—making it difficult to justify sitting through the one hour and 21 minute runtime of More Life. It should be noted, however, that this relaxed pace does work in “4422,” as do Sampha’s ghostly vocals. Yet the album as a whole is far too much of a chore to endure to the end.

 —Selin Altuntur, A&E Editor

The ethos of More Life is largely summed up in the first word of its title. The album, if you can call it that, largely offers a continuation of Drake’s commercially golden formula rather than a definitive, or interesting, break from the past. There are more chilly trap bangers, more half-hearted forays into dancehall and grime, more moody, sentimental lyricism, and clumsy flow. 

Credit where credit’s due, Drake’s questionable mining of Afro-Carribean, South African, and Atlantan musical traditions does strike gold from time to time. Nevertheless, Drake’s nasal fuckboyery feels decidedly awkward over these lush soundscapes and sounds downright boring over more straightforward production. Stick around for the earworms and don’t sweat the details. There’s plenty of great hip-hop out there right now. Don’t spend an hour and a half on this.

—Eric Noble-Marks, Staff Writer


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