I hope Drake forgets his flip flops just before he steps in the shower at the gym or maybe he buys a series of Tim Horton’s franchises that get shut down by the health department or maybe he stubs his pinky toe on the OVO office coffee table. I hope that something, anything, significant happens to this man in order for his music to have any of the cache it once had. I don’t necessarily wish ill upon the 6 God. Maybe Lauren from the Waffle House in Tallahassee can successfully trap Aubrey and then he’ll come to terms with the beauty of fatherhood. But, listeners need some sort life altering incident to spark subject matter — at least something other than perceived slights, marginal assistance to an ephemeral crew, and the popular diasporic subculture of the moment. More Life details the least amount of living from an artist formerly known for his vulnerability. This album is a stagnant as leftover cooler water from last summer’s trip to the beach. We took Views to the islands with “Controlla.” One year later, Drake dumped a fresh bag of ice on top of gritty sand, Great Value cola, and a loose ziploc bag and dubbed it More Life.
The public perception of Drake’s content has followed a narrative consistent of a relationship with a narcissist. First, you find their openness refreshing and novel. Next, you find yourself curious about the depths of their mind and creativity, and finally their droning on about themselves becomes a hollow refrain like Aubrey’s lyrics. It’s frustrating to witness a genuine talent lazily coast, but yea, this is the path Drake chose. He knows he can rehash the same four song concepts and his status as a pop star will insulate him from any financial ramifications on his annual trip to the Grammys. A certain segment of his fandom will enjoy his musical sociopathy no matter what. He has cemented a permanent place in your local kickback’s musical rotation. Kudos to Drake for getting over on most of the populous. However, if Drake wants to convince the savvy among us that he’s great as he purports to be, he needs to be a bit better at obscuring his formulaic content. Other than boasting about how he doesn’t want to rap, or he doesn't “need” it, he could fully adopt one of these alternative styles that he occasionally shakes on his musical pallet for seasoning.
Currently, Drake has four song templates: The single, the trap rant, the R&B wannabe, and the culture vulture. After making multiple versions of these same four songs over the course of his last two albums, it’s honestly peculiar that he isn’t better at it. His singles are undeniably hot, probably because in this era of “playlists” tracks like “Hotline Bling” or “Fake Love” expect to carry the brunt of the plays via streaming platform. However, the rest of the tracks on More Life are sorely lacking. On “Gyalchester”, Aubrey sets up his hook to rhyme “kicker” with “nigger” with a hard “er.” That utter disregard for protocol alone signifies wanton boredom. The proficiency is there but like a cafeteria style lunch buffet the ala carte style of sound creation ultimately reduces quality.
Considering Drake’s shift into world music, it's not surprising that his rapping and singing, his former calling cards, have plateaued. What is surprising and patently absurd is that Future, your ain’t shit cousin whose kids you avoid eye contact with when you see them around town, is better at combining the R&B and rap than Drake. Drizzy has essentially co opted Future’s flow on a number of trap tracks since What a Time To Be Alive but ultimately his boasting comes off as whiny instead of braggadocios. His insistence on setting straight years of perceived slights seems like a never ending Social Network style internal monologue over triplet hi hats. On the R&B side, while Future croons, Drake rarely attempts to really sing. Instead he relies on weak melodizing that was okay once upon a time, but his thin voice can’t carry the weight of his empty platitudes. “Nothings into Somethings”, “Teenage Fever”, “Since Way Back” are simply put, unpleasant. Especially, on a “playlist” with PARTYNEXTDOOR and Sampha providing superior vocals.
The verdict is split on, Drake, the culture vulture. Either Drake is representing the various Caribbean communities of the British diaspora present in the greater Toronto area or Mr. Nice Guy. The truth lies somewhere roughly left or right of center at the 35 percent line depending how you feel about him. Motivations aside, Drake’s forays into afrobeat, grime, dancehall, polka, contemporary celtic and peruvian flute music have been his catchiest songs of late. “Madiba Riddim” is disingenuous and yet, a great song. What makes his music sound tired is an insistence on playing all the roles at once. Between the tracks on Views and More Life, audiences would have been treated to a solid afrobeat/dancehall album. Drake would’ve been lauded for stepping out of the box, listeners would’ve been spared another dose passive aggressive machismo, and we’d all be better off for it.
Ultimately, the notion of the “playlist” is a smoke screen for releasing lackluster content. It’s an attempt to skirt responsibility for the album equivalent of pot pie innards. It’s something or (ting) that you just absorb after enjoying the initial bite of flaky crust that you really wanted. Furthermore, by marketing it as by “The October Firm”, Drake is putting himself in the position of other hip hop moguls that have created compilation albums for their stables. But instead of using the guise of loyalty to subject us to G. Dep, Lil’ Twist or the newest guy in Toronto, you’re hearing Drake surgically sample another song from 1996-2001 in an transparent attempt to stir nostalgia. The album is Drake’s attempt to carve himself a place on every night of your local clubs schedule. Meringue Monday, Afrobeat Tuesday, Francophone Friday, and even your standard hip hop Saturday will all have Drake on the docket but no one will be listening.