Drake’s More Life “playlist” is either a genre-breaking, experimental musical master class that flips the status quo on its head, or it’s a cheap ploy to distract the listener from the fact that he didn’t actually produce a concise, cohesive project. In fairness, it’s probably both. Reviewing albums is relatively easy; they usually have some sort of overlying theme, message or purpose that dictates their arc. Reviewing a playlist of this nature, on the other hand, can be a great deal more difficult, as the metric for determining whether or not this project is ‘lit’ or undisputedly doused proves itself to be something of an exotic pursuit given the mainstream track record of its creator.
Ostensibly, the primary thing that needs to be addressed is how it feels to listen to More Life; what kind of experience does it create for the listener and whether or not that was its intended purpose. The opening track ‘Free Smoke’ tricks you into believing it’s a party playlist, blossoming from a light piano coupled with innocently sweet vocals, then transitioning to a heavy baseline snare drum melody with Drake dropping what is easily his best verse this year; “How you let the kid fightin’Ghost-writing’ rumors turn you to a ghost?”. The next track, ‘No Long Talk’, follows suit and keeps the energy ramped up to the maximum.
However, while the first two songs effectively establish the thematic scope of the project, it is not until ‘Passionfruit’ that the actual tone for the playlist is set. Whereas they feel like the type of thing you would listen to before a night out or a trip to the gym to hype yourself up, ‘Passionfruit’ – with its distinctively tropical vibes and low relaxed melodies – makes for the perfect background music for anything, really. It’s upbeat and remarkably positive for the usually bittersweet Aubrey Drake Graham. It is however a relatively mediocre song that is saved by its superb production. The following five tracks then do very little in the way of bringing new material to the listening experience. They all draw inspiration from Jamaican dancehall or grime but stay somewhat consistent in subject matter and vibe. Whether or not this was a conscious choice made by Drake should be considered. Any good playlist should have standout songs, but for it to work in the format that it purports to be, it also needs to have a lull where tracks seamlessly blend together. Creatively, even if we were to give him an artistic pass in that respect, it doesn’t quite excuse the fact that the block in question was less than interesting to actually listen to.
‘Gyalchester’ seems to reinvigorate the whole project. It follows a similar structure to ‘Free Smoke’, drowning out the external world with an aggressive baseline and Drake giving a bored yet extremely self-confident delivery. The party vibes come rushing back, and this is only further solidified by the ‘Skepta Interlude’. Perhaps what makes this project so unique is the fact it accomplishes the goal of completely forgoing convention by having its first song with no noticeable input from Drake himself. ‘Portland’ and ‘Sacrifice’ keep true to form and maintain the necessary energy levels. ‘Nothings Into Somethings’ and ‘Teenage Fever’ act as jarring changes of pace, upsetting the flow of the whole record – a flow that isn’t quite mended by ‘K.M.T’ despite its obvious attempt.
To be honest, Drake’s “playlist” is a bit of a disappointment. And the word playlist is in parenthesis here because while it does allow for one or two unique elements to be brought to the table, it doesn’t differ that greatly from your run of the mill album. The project is massively disjointed, loses its rhythm in the second half and has way too many songs whilst failing to keep things refreshing enough for you to stay engaged for the whole thing. That’s not to say that More Life is necessarily bad, or doesn’t have GREAT songs in it. What it really falls down to is that Drake’s thus far uncharted territory of More Life isn’t really worth the timely expedition.