His “Views” Give Us “More Life”
Drake refuses to go stagnant
By Maianh Luong Contributor
From mixtape to album, Drake’s descriptions of his ‘own work’ have always led the way for the laser-focused sound he tries to deliver. Now, with what he calls a mere playlist, “More Life” takes what we know of Drake, a narratively shaped and contained pop visionary, and transforms it into a format that is relaxed and circuitous.
In 2015, Drake delivered us his mixtape, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” an album full of chest-beating, industry-buff trash-talk — rushed and released to the market to exhibit his self-indulgent state, manifesting his swift journey into fame and the spotlight. “More Life” minimally recounts these parts of his life, including his 2016 album “Views,” which yielded only a handful of chart-topping hits. It acknowledges and responds to the creative dead-end and lackluster imprint “Views” left many of his fans with.
Drake’s newest format, a playlist, seems to be implicitly surrendering to his former static routine. “More Life” is eclectic and generous in all of its sounds. Drake seems to willingly play more in the background as he ushers forth his latest collaborators. In “Get It Together,” he allows the shadowy voice of 19-year-old British singer Jorja Smith to glide over the track as he merely doubles the hook with her. In its entirety “4422” is sung by British pop singer Sampha, whose tender, but prolific soprano voice moves souls.
Drake’s British influence doesn’t stop there. Grime rapper Skepta, leaves a savage taste in our mouths in “Skepta Interlude” while seasoned UK grime rapper Giggs makes an appearance on the song “KMT” with riotous, lewd lyrics. Young Thug also emerges twice, with his unique singing in “Sacrifice” and “Ice Melts.” Kanye West makes a cameo in “Glow,” which has Mr. West’s sound all over it.
Drake brings the contrasting sounds of Caribbean and South African house to support the fame-induced paranoia that he has always dealt with. “I can not tell who is my friend/ I need distance between me and them,” he sings over a lively beat in “Madiba Riddim.” The radio dancehall favorite, “Passionfruit,” croons about a lady who is “passionate from miles away/ passive with the things you say.”
Drake has clearly removed his solipsistic persona in the release of his latest. It’s intoxicating and detouring layout winds us onto the path of forward-thinking hip-hop and soul. Mind you, Drake still lashes out in bitterness and obsession like he did the past three years but in a more refined and gentler manner. “People like you more when you working towards something/ Not when you have it,” he raps on “Lose You.”
Perhaps one of the most effective guests on the album comes from a voicemail left by Drake’s mother at the end of “Can’t Have Everything.” It reveals his common motif of paranoia and anxiety that he has always dealt with. “You know, hun, I’m a bit concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days… but that attitude will just hold you back in this life.”
This revelation reveals that Drake’s most inspiring work manifests itself when he looks beyond his own mind and uncertainty as “More Life” comes to life.