By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor
[OVO Sound; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Sacrifices,” “Gyalchester,” “Portland”
Drake really wants to sound like he’s from East London, South Africa, Kingston, and Houston all at the same time: Also, he really misses Rihanna. These are the themes of More Life, a strange yet satisfying rebuttal to the stasis Drake put himself in on Views. It’s a decidedly global take on the man formerly known as Aubrey Graham, yet many have doubted how authentic the cultural borrowing is. Who exactly is Drake trying to be now? Nobody may have the answer, but More Life still creates an atmosphere where he’s free to entertain as often as possible.
First and foremost, this record is focused on voices that aren’t Drake’s as much as Drake is focused on himself. Industry standards such as Kanye and Young Thug, Londoners like Skepta and Giggs and some new faces including Black Coffee and Jorja Smith all promote a group iconography that shows Drake as the leader of his own gang, ready to call for assistance in a moment’s notice. It’s perhaps ironic that removing Drake from his own album makes it better, but a good call nonetheless.
There’s also been a recanting of the braggadocio that marked the If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and Views era. Drake has humbled himself, though this may be because Rihanna broke up with him. In any case, songs like “Passionfruit” and Blem” are smooth reminders of the classic R&B style that’s been missing from his recent releases. Which is not to say that Drake is an earnest fellow begging for forgiveness. On the contrary; “Sacrifices” and “Gyalchester” are just as boastful as usual, but there’s a sense of groundedness that does wonders for Drake’s ambiance. More Life proves to bring back the fun vibes Drake used to siphon with ease.
In all honesty, More Life seems to be a glorified version of Views. The difference being that the spirit being displayed on the more recent release is much more culpable and infectious than the lifeless corpse of Views. Similarly, both have a gratuitous amount of tracks, alluding to the dark-sided theory that modern albums are padded with music to make more money on streaming platforms. This can be a blessing for listeners if the projects are inspired and vivacious, but Drake’s always a mixed bag when it comes to quality. So, a toast to More Life, a playlist that culminates Drake’s affinity for culture thievery with his commitment to wringing the best out of artists he works with: Veni, vidi, vici.