Oh man. Oh man, oh man. Not again. Drake came back with his heavily anticipated More Life “playlist,” which means Twitter and Spotify may need to increase bandwidth to accommodate the massive influx of traffic for the foreseeable future. The lengthy follow-up to the 6 God’s fourth studio album, Views, features some heavy-hitters such as Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott and more. The project is eclectic and dynamic, providing listeners with a little taste of every side of one of pop culture’s most captivating figures.
Frank Ocean once asked, “What’s a king to a god?” Well, in 2017, content is king, and Drake is a self-proclaimed god (of the 6 variety). So to answer your question, Frank, in the context of More Life-era Drizzy, the king is everything to the god. Twenty-two tracks is Drake’s longest project to date. It could take months to consume all of that content. And it will. It’s all part of the plan.
Drake is a calculated artist. We must not forget that when the rest of the rap game sleeps, the 6 God schemes. And plots. All of this on the low, of course. He is a poster child for post-modernism; in More Life‘s 80-minute lifespan, he crosses over to pop, switches back to rap, reveals insecurities, displays confidence and even borrows cultural accents. By calling the project a “playlist,” he grants himself immunity and freedom from the pressures of typical album expectations.
A tsunami of More Life reviews will have already clogged your newsfeed by the time this is published. Don’t pay attention to most of them. Too many internet-dwellers simply turn a first impression into an arbitrary letter grade.
In reviewing the work of an artist as big as Drake, there is a major “micro vs. macro” distinction that must be addressed. A micro-level review pits an artist’s new release against his/her own discography, while a macro-level review compares a new project’s quality to that of recent releases from other contemporary artists.
For the most part, today’s Drake-related micro-level reviews would suggest that he can’t win. Just take a look at the Fifth Estate’s reaction to Views. Despite its unprecedented streaming success, the album caused many to long for an earlier incarnation of the artist. Old projects like Take Care and Nothing Was the Same set the bar high and left the door open for new releases to be overly scrutinized. Yes, some nostalgia-laden Drake reviews touch on valid points, but as with any bias reporting, viewer discretion is advised, at least to some degree.
It is within the macro-level arena that More Life evaluations can easily garner positive acclaim. Drake has become a master recording artist as both a singer and a rapper; he delivers contagious melodies and captivating flows. His unmatched versatility as a vocalist allows him to successfully execute multiple styles. From rap to R&B to dancehall, he does it all on More Life, and he does it well. There is a track for everyone, which is a major feat in and of itself. Name another rapper who can achieve such wide-ranging appeal … Now cue the crickets.
Of course, the irresistibility of Drake’s content is largely due to the holistic quality of his compositions. Executive producer and long-time collaborator 40 delivers a signature OVO sound on a handful of the project’s tracks. Boi-1da, T-Minus and Nineteen85 are a few more usual suspects on the production side of the operation. Within today’s popular music climate, an all-star caliber personnel, like the one backing More Life, provides the closest thing to a satisfaction guarantee.
So, whether or not you’re a Drake fanatic, More Life is certainly worth your attention. But there is a right and wrong way to consume this project. Adopt the macro-level scrutinization mindset and you will not be disappointed. Drake has delivered one of the best collections in recent memory and perhaps the most exciting release of 2017.