On March 18th, Drake released his newest body of work, a 22-track ‘playlist’ titled “More Life.” It was first streamed in its entirety on OVOSound Radio, Drake’s radio show on Beats 1 before being made more widely available. When contrasted against his total body of work, a playlist full of his variety of sounds and styles sounds promising. The only problem is that it comes up short in a number of ways. More life is great in concept but when you actually listen to it it’s underwhelming- poorly mixed, the featured names are good on paper but they fail to draw the most invigorating performances from those individuals.
For example, theoretically a Drake, Quavo and Travis Scott track could have been the craziest song of the year, but then we get “Portland” and it’s just kind of interesting pretty much for that crazy flute on the beat. Young Thug has 2 features, and while one was unbelievably inventive and unexpected for him, the other was merely passable. Kanye and 2 Chainz are both welcome voices, but they lacked the oomph to really hit, which they had shown on previous features. I think it’s because everything was so slowed, stretched and drenched in minimalist melancholy that it makes it hard to get through and causes a lot of silence and dead noise.
Most of the features feel very disconnected, like they were recorded in a separate room or that Drake simply added his own lyrics on top of a song that never made the cut on a featured artist’s album. The best example is “Ice Melts” featuring Young Thug, which just feels like a JEFFERY leftover. At points, the mixing is off and drake’s tone is uninteresting. It sounds like those moments when he’s trying to be cold and heartless as a flex but it comes off monotone more than anything. “Hard Drake” (one of many Drakes) is a scorned softie who decided the world wouldn’t hurt him anymore but he’s not really that tough so it comes off like that kid trying to swing at his bully but the bully has his hand in his face and the kid’s arms aren’t long enough to reach so he’s just swinging (whew what a long metaphor).
The kicker is still Drake’s lazy presence on a lot of these songs. Even when the features were mediocre they were still better than drake’s own bars. So many slow beats, so much dead sound, plus all the little interludes and skits make it feel like a very corporate production rather than an intimate drake project, which, even if that’s what he was going for, it’s not varied enough. Many were expecting more of an OVO compilation a la Kanye’s “Cruel Summer” by him calling it an “October Firm” playlist, but it doesn’t feel varied enough to be a playlist nor focused and concise enough for an album.
A big playlist of new content all at once is a very interesting and unique idea in today’s age of streaming, but it’s not really diverse if it’s all bland takes on genres by the same guy. I think Views has the more cohesive ‘mood’ everybody’s talking about with More Life. Sure it’s kind of a rainy day, stare-out-the-window sort of mood but it fits and the production is pretty solid. It also feels more like a Drake project, whereas More Life felt like a discombobulated set of average drake remixes.
A greatest hits from an alternate universe where he made slightly different songs. Even on the more upbeat tracks he either sounds monotone or has the whispery melancholy singing (Get It Together Passionfruit), which play into the sappy, sad stuff. He doesn’t sound happy on the happy beats…in fact I can’t think of a recent song where I picture Drake enjoying what he’s doing in his signature goofy corny way that made all the times he gets emotional that much more endearing.
All that being said, it’s still interesting enough, but it’s a largely “safe” project that feels more like an attempted rewrite of Views than him really pushing the envelope. Most of this review was written on the weekend of its release, but upon further reflection (and more times to listen through), it’s not as disappointing when you take in Drake’s marketing of it, not as an album, but as a bunch of songs he wanted to share. And, in that way it succeeds, because it’s enough to hold you over even if you only come back to a handful of its enormous track count.