The months, weeks, and days leading up to Views were full of anxious anticipation. Collectively, the world wanted to know if Drake would deliver the renowned, universally acclaimed album that would transcend him as the best rapper breathing. Views isn’t an album that will receive the classic badge of honor, but it did solidify Drake’s position as one of the biggest recording artists in the world―he broke all the records and topped all the charts―and proved that in both hip-hop and pop only a few are standing on the same mountain top.
Drake may have fallen short of making an undeniably great album, but Views is an industry checkmate, and the biggest victory of his career, so I’m still a bit surprised at his decision to release another body of work so soon. Instead of going on a long vacation, Drake returned to the studio, and now we have the “playlist” that is More Life.
To be honest, I’m intrigued by More Life, but I’m not excited. The bar was rather high for Drake the last time, and to avoid any disappointment, I’m not getting my hopes up. Drake is a rapper who crossed over into the pop realm, he’s from Toronto with an infatuation with Grime, and he has an entire label of artists but still finds time to work with the bubbling talent in Atlanta. He is somehow predictable and unpredictable―I have no idea what to expect from More Life.
Regardless if the “playlist” is good or bad, Drake will once again take over social media and rule the music world for days, weeks, and probably several months heading into summer. I’m not going into this listening experience looking for a classic album, but I would be happy to get some classic Drake.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
More Life to all our readers, More Life to all the rappers.
1. "Free Smoke"
A woman is singing. A beautiful voice. She’s playing the piano, Alicia Keys vibes. And it switched to a beat, hard-hitting, trap drums thumping with the kind of rhythm that will make Uzi Vert shoulders shimmy. Drake is rapping, flowing. Don’t know what free smoke is, must be hookah. Feels rather Atlanta, bragging about drunk texting J. Lo is a real brag. That’s a brag Diddy would make in ‘99. This is the Drake I like, think about his verse on “Big Amount.” This is the kind of rapping I wanted on Views. He just mentioned the Jay Z advice, I really like this. Ha, the Kid n Play line. GHOSTWRITING REFERENCE. OKAY DRAKE I’M HYPE. Jay and Meek references in the first song, LET'S GO. Feels like he decided to bring the chopper with him in the intro, this isn’t the singing Drake, but Drake the troublemaker.
2. "No Long Talk" ft. Giggs
Second song called “No Long Talk.” Wonder if he heard Bino’s “No Small Talk”—that would be a wild plot twist. Drake just transformed to GRIME Drizzy. Giggs is labeled a feature. I've never heard his music but I hear he has more than one feature. This is a cool flow, his voice is kinda annoying, but the aggression is there. Two songs in and this is more rap driven than Views, it’s almost the complete opposite. There are two sides to Drake, no Frank Ocean. Giggs sounds like the kind of rapper that might shank you if you get his order wrong at the drive-in. Damn you Beats 1 with the censored lyrics, curse words are just words dammit! "No Long Talk" isn't a bad song, and while it doesn’t demand my attention or a replay, I like what Drake offered.
Third song is called “PassionFruit” and this is the most Drake-esque title we’ve seen since “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Tropical vibes, a complete switch up from the opening trap-driven, rap records. I like the light keys, takes me back to being on a cruise ship and viewing the sunset. Singing Drake is coming with the Yes Julz vibes. I’m seeing tailored suits and gowns, the kind of grown-up anthem that you hit a mean two-step to. This is a more mature “One Dance,” a little more R&B than Afrobeat. So groovy. Drake sounds like himself, he isn’t trying to leave his vocal comfort zone, the kind of smooth vibe that can take over radio and you’ll hate yourself for loving it. He could play it for the next 10 hours or even the next 10 years and I wouldn’t complain. No vocals, a little thumping drum with light keys. The mood is very still, a woman’s voice, but I couldn’t make out what she said. I like this a lot.
4. "Jorja Interlude"
Anytime Drake has an interlude named after a woman it’s an instant classic. Light singing, a sample in the back. Drake is back to complaining about people, he really does hate fake people like Meek Mill hates whispering. Smooth, I like the sample playing in the background. This is way more of a rap album playlist than I expected. When Drake raps like this it’s so light, almost like tiptoeing across a beat. I don’t know if Jorja is the woman singing or a woman the song is based off but this is enjoyable.
5. "Get It Together" ft. Black Coffee & Jorja Smith
WOOOO THESE DRUMS. It was a sudden switch but this has a mean rhythm. One day we will talk about Drake’s ear for production, I don’t think he gets enough credit but when you got a guy like 40 in the tent making magic, it’s hard not to pick the best. I can’t get over how engrossing this beat is. Jorja Smith is the singer—that answers my question from track four—I wonder if she's the first lady of OVO? She gives me singing Rihanna vibes. This whole song feels like it should have Rihanna on it—I would have rather had her on More Life than the Future album. Not bad at all, though. Wow, Drake has an entire label with not a single female artist. Drake really is finding that middle ground between house swing and R&B melodies. Imagine if So Far Gone was inspired by house and Caribbean music along with ‘90s R&B, a very interesting juxtaposition. I’m not too attuned to the lyrics but I really like how this feels, it's very easy listening but also enthralling―Views tends to lose its vigor by being a bit repetitive, but so far we've been treated to a variety pack of sounds. Drake did a SoundCloud mix and called it an album. I’m not mad at all. He’s keeping everything rather short, feels like it ends before really extending itself too long.
6. "Madiba Riddim"
I like this already. Okay, Drake has fully transformed to Wizkid/Popcaan Drake. Again, I’m not mad, the sound is warm, and the melody is very soothing like getting a backrub in a sauna. Man, this has to be the third or fourth time Drake has admitted to not knowing who his friends are. Being a famous celebrity must bring terrible people into your life or he’s extremely paranoid. “Voodoo spells put on my life,” uh, if this is true, I would be paranoid too. I hate that I can’t help but shimmy in my chair. He’s really taking the Caribbean influence and turning it into the sound of mainstream music. This could do to radio what "One Dance" did last year. When it comes to having potential hits and playlist take over music, Drake is in his own league.
The pace just got faster, hi-hats upping the tempo. Drake is still singing, there’s a touch of an accent on his words. I never saw this future when he shot the video for “Find Your Love.” Okay, I’m a bit bored. I like this Drake but there has to be a certain mood; he lost the feeling of variety I praised him for a few songs ago. Also, I need an urban dictionary check on the word "blem." I will say, I like these melodies/flows. Influence has altered Drake’s sound, for the better or worst? I’m not sure. Definitely going to be a big party record when winter decides to say it’s final goodbye. LIL WAYNES VOICE! THE LIGHTER FLICKER! THE INHALE! Now we're talking...
8. "4422" ft. Sampha
Some light keys, what sounds like a vocal sample lightly in the background. This is building up into something, I’m still high off hearing Wayne’s voice, please don’t let me down Drake. SAMPHA!!! IS THAT SAMPHA!!! I love not knowing the features, it’s like having a surprise party for each song. Sampha sounds so good. I know when these drums drop it’s going to take 10 years off my life the way my heart is going to race. DAMMIT! The drums were so soft. Disappointed, but still grooving. Sampha's voice is like drinking freshly squeezed lemonade, sweet with a touch of sour. There’s always a bit of pain in the beauty. Sampha has taken over this entire song, is this Sampha’s song? Is this where other artists take over the playlist?
More keys with a bit more personality. THE DRUMS DID A PUMP FAKE AND JUST DROPPED WOOOOOOOOOO. Wait, the song switched. So Sampha has his own record. “I don’t take naps” is the greatest Drake stunt ever. He said it like bragging about winning the lottery. I’m definitely tweeting that all year long. Sounds like the Migo ad-libs in the background matching his Migos-esque flow. I like when Drake raps, but I swear he has hasn’t said anything crazy impactful, full paranoia and stunt raps. THESE DRUMS AND BASSLINE ARE RIDICULOUS. If you ever wanted to fight someone to a Drake song it is “Gyalchester.” This is an Atlanta trap banger that will take you to the heart of a Bando. When Drake does trap music he reminds me of the Keanu movie with Key and Peele, somewhere between cat owner and faux-drug dealer.
10. "Skepta Interlude" ft. Skepta
These horns and drums are aggressive. A very mean beat, someone pissed in this producers cereal. Skepta has arrived. I like Skepta more and more as the days go by. He raps like he doesn’t like a single person on this planet. I hope to hate the world with the aggressive grace of Skepta one day. He’s in the pocket, really going wild. “Sketpa Interlude” leads me to believe this is a Skep only track. Despite the heaviness of his accident, he has an excellent rap voice. The right amount of grit and grime to make you feel each and every line. “Block that account, it's a catfish.” If you followed Skepta's advice, MTV would be short one popular reality show.
11. "Portland" ft. Quavo & Travis Scott
I have no idea how many songs I’ve heard. TRAP SONGS WITH FLUTES ARE MY FAVORITE TRAP SONGS. Snake charming music. I like this Drake. Whoever wrote this verse or whoever he borrowed this flow from should get a raise; Drake is floating on a Back to the Future hoverboard. This might be my favorite verse thus far. Wait, is Quavo on a Drake and Travis Scott record singing about not allowing anyone to ride your wave? I love hip-hop irony. I don’t care, you guys can hate me, but Quavo has so much crossover potential. This verse and hook are asking for radio to play him. Travis' Auto-Tune might be the best Auto-Tune since T-Pain. That feels like a really bad hot take but this verse is rather impressive. Drake got Trav rapping like he's trying to be taken seriously. Was that a Jay Z/Tidal bar that wasn’t terrible? I LOVE THIS BEAT. This Oracle of Time Flute is giving me life. So much flavor in wind instruments. This is some really good dab music. “Michael Jordan with the tennis shoes.” This is a definite keeper.
12. "Sacrifices" ft. 2 Chainz & Young Thug
Heavy piano keys. Drake just came in like a smooth criminal. I like this. A smoother flow on a smoother beat. Some bars. I think this will be so much better without the censorship. Feels like 21 Savage flow, Drake is a master of taking and recreating. Drake 1 percenter problems are so amusing. 2 Chainz aka one of the most underrated rappers out of Atlanta has appeared and he brought the flamethrower. A good hook, a good Chainz verse. YOUNG THUG HAS ARRIVED! AND THIS IS THE CLEAREST HE HAS EVER SOUNDED!!! I’m so impressed. This is like when Gucci got out of jail. YOUNG THUG IS GOING OFF. I MEAN, dare I say, his verse might have just washed Drake and Chainz? He is in go mode. Young Thug hair is gold and he’s hovering, this is super Sayian Slime and he just threw the Spirit Bomb. I don’t know what to do. I’m so stunned I had to tweet. What did I just listen to?
13. "Nothings Into Something"
Was that a goat level Young Thug verse? He had to eat goat before recording that. I’m so stunned. Yeah, Drake, you better sing. I wouldn’t want to rap after that verse either. Have you ever experienced something so unexpected and so stunning that you don’t know what to do? I like Thug, mostly in small doses, but that verse was like ordering a Big Mac and getting a filet mignon. Drake is singing and it sounds like a really dope PND song. This is good. I like this beat, this sounds like 4 am in Toronto waiting to get that “You up?” text. Damn the song changed and I’m still thinking about Young Thug’s verse on "Sacrifices."
14. "Teenage Fever"
I don’t know why Drake would have a song called "Teenage Fever," I hope this isn’t about how he lost his virginity. Actually, this sounds like House Of Balloons-era Weeknd. Wait, is that Abel? It’s a singing voice but the distortion on the vocals are so heavy? It does sound like the ghost of MJ singing from the other side? I’m not sure. The slower, singing Drake records take me back to Nothing Was The Same-era. I’m not mad at this at all. Oh, his infatuation with a girl feels like being a teenager again. Makes sense, a relatable feeling. Interested in knowing who produced this and the sample they used. [Editor's Note: The song is produced by Hagler and samples “If You Had My Love” by Jennifer Lopez.] Solid song, one that will mean much more when it’s simp season.
15. "KMT" ft. Giggs
WOOOO THE THUNDER DRUMS. This is sounding monstrous like Godzilla just rose from the ocean to fuck shit up. OH, this is the Drake song that he was accused of stealing the flow? This is nasty, I would be mad if this potential hit was my flow, too. The way it knocks and this flow he’s using, I see a bright future for this song. Drake saying kissing my teeth is so awkward, there are so many other ways to phrase his disdain. Giggs is back sounding like a villain from the Taken series. I’m not sure what he’s saying but I like the tone of his voice. I just can’t get into his verse.
16. "Lose You"
There’s no flow to this playlist, no balance, it is random and spontaneous—sort of, like a playlist. It’s rather fun but also rather unorthodox. This is Drake in his AM pocket. The 30 for 30 flow. I bet he wrote this one on a plane. A bit more introspective, the Drake we want. Nice production. Ha, an R. Kelly "Ignition Remix" nod. This is the Drake we love, the one fans, real fans will adore. There are some bars here, I’m very content. Drake’s really pushing the struggling agenda, he must have seen something very dark growing up or wants to feel like his privilege doesn’t discredit success. I’m loving it. Can I live in this song? I just want a Drake song with this flow, this introspection, this self-reflection. He’s such a good rapper when he decides to be Drake and no one else. I wonder who this is about… He's definitely talking to someone in particular. Meek shots? Cinematic outro. Damn you, Drake, you're such a hard person to hate when you do your job.
17. "Can't Have Everything"
OH THESE ARE RAP DRUMS. THIS IS CATCH YOU IN THE DARK ALLEY DRUMS. THESE ARE KNUCK IF YOU BUCK DRUMS. Oh, shit, Drake is floating like he stole Hermes Nikes. Okay, okay, okay. This is nasty. I need production credits. [Editor's Note: "Can't Have Everything" is produced by Jazzfeezy and Steve Samson.] Drake's really just rapping with a flow that feels like it could be endless. The kind of flow you hope doesn’t end. I hope this is the single; finally a song I can play while jumping on the couch. Rapping Drake will forever be my favorite Drake. Oh? Who was that a shot at? I hate how Drake threw a shot at the Sheraton. He must be attacking Meek or Joe Budden but a rapper caught those bullets. Drake’s mother called him about the aggression in his music, this is amazing. She is an angel. I love Drake’s mom like a long distance aunty. Only Drake will attack a rapper and put his Mom lecturing him at the end. “When others go low, we go high,” wise words from a wonderful woman.
18. "Glow" ft. Kanye West
I don’t know who this is singing, it sounds like if Jamie Foxx was born in ‘91. KANYE WEST JUST ARRIVED AND HE SOUNDS LIKE HE JUST CAME FROM THE GRADUATION ERA. WTF. WTF. WTF. Nah, like the sound of his voice is different than the Kanye I heard on The Life of Pablo. This is incredible, Kanye. He’s giving us some real good rapping. Is he doing a duet style verse with Drake? Wait, that’s Drake singing on the hook. What is going on, how is this song so good? This is exactly what I wanted from Pablo. Wait, could I have been wrong about a Drake and Kanye album? Why is this so good. Kanye mentioning his son. “The glow got me feeling like I’m gun proof.” Ah, I might have to play this all year long. Kanye and Drake feel like getting your income tax. THE BEAT JUST SWITCHED. Sounds like winning a game show in heaven. What is this sample? What is happening? When did the world become a better place?
19. "Since Way Back" ft. PND
PartyNextDoor has entered the party. I have a love/hate relationship with his voice. There’s a lot of emotion in his tone, but he doesn’t really touch my soul like a lot of other singers. There's something about Drake and Party collabs that always feels like adding strange toppings on a pizza―plain cheese is always good but you never know what happens when you want to add maple syrup instead of pepperoni. Drake sounds good. Very nostalgic. Was that another R. Kelly nod? I don’t know if I can play 12 Play in 2017, but I know people are. This is set the mood R&B. Production wise everything has been spot on. This is definitely 40’s vibe. Drake’s singing has been good throughout the album. I wish this would have sat a little higher on the tracklisting. “I been out in Bel-Air like Will was” is ironic considering Drake was marketed as hip-hop’s new Fresh Prince at one time. This is a good song but doesn’t carry the same synergy as the Kanye collab. Hard drums and a sweet sample, bless you 40 if this is 40. But if it isn’t, bless the man behind the boards. [Editor's Note: 40 co-produced "Since Way Back" with G. Ry and PND.] Take us out the right way. How many more songs? I don’t know. I feel like I’m having an adrenaline rush not knowing what is yet to come.
20. "Fake Love"
Finally, something familiar. “Fake Love” is incredible because Drake is able to channel Starrah and make it something big. This "single" is definitely being added to get the streaming numbers up for the first week sales. Drake the politician is not missing any opportunity. This is one of the most catchy songs I’ve heard in the last year. I really see a bright future for Starrah, if she can take over radio with records such as this one, she’ll have royalty cheques for the rest of her children's lives. Also, this sounds like a brother of “Pick Up The Phone”—take over those playlists, Drizzy.
21. "Ice Melts" ft. Young Thug
Young Thug is back, okay, this is the Thug I’m more familiar with. The flow is rather unorthodox, there’s a bit more mumble in his voice, I’m still not sure what happened on the other song. Okay, this feels weird, like drinking Cherry Coke. Okay, this is kind of growing on me. Young Thug has this uncanny ability to channel Wyclef and I just don’t know about Wyclef and Drake. This one is far more fun and way more easy on the ears than an aggressive rap record. “Icey like 1017,” I chuckled. I’m going to like this in a few weeks and I’m going to hate myself for it. The beat is too good, the melody is too catchy, but Drake and Thug sound like a snake befriending a rabbit. That just doesn’t happen in the animal kingdom.
22. "Do Not Disturb"
Drake must have his iPhone on airplane mode. Man, I have to say, I’m impressed that he’s kept my attention this long. Drake rapping over vocal samples might have to get the same treatment as Ross, this is damn good. This is sounding like an outro, I’m okay ending with this. Every time Drake raps this way, I remember what made me a fan. The 'clarity flow' is what we should call it when he raps this way. Talk that talk Drake!, ha, “7 A.M. in Germany.” “I’m a reflection of all your insecurities,” is a funny thing for Drake to rap, BUT HE IS RAPPING. All you can do is zone out and be happy that he went more rap than pop. Holy shit this is how you close out an album.
Final (first listen) thoughts on More Life:
This is what I wanted from Views. That much I can admit after one listen. A balance between pop and rap, potential hits and memorable bars, great features and good songwriting―he covers all the bases in a way that may not make for the most fluid listen but he hit all the marks.
This is an impressive collection of songs, far better than I ever expected, and while the playlist is a bit long, Drake has always been one for fatty projects.
I expected far more features—what one would expect from a playlist—but this is more of a complete body of work. You get a slice of all the various forms of Drake—all the influences from London to Toronto, Atlanta’s Trap to Africa’s Afrobeat—and it took a playlist for him to give all the sounds he loves a safe home.
Currently, my biggest disappointment is the lack of a Lil Wayne verse. There’s going to be complaints about the flows he borrowed, the usage of influences, and the overall length, but More Life is like taking the best of If You’re Reading This and Views and turning it into one big playlist project.
More Life sounds like Drake went out his way to prove he can do every type of record. The highlights overshadow the minor shortcomings, and while this may not be an undeniable, universal classic, I'll be damned if Drake didn’t return with some good music. That’s all I ever ask of him, and that he delivered.
Time for another listen...
By Yoh, aka More Yoh, aka @Yoh31