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“More Life” lives up to its title

Drake all but redeems himself from the lackluster “Views” with his latest project.   |   Courtesy of Apple Music

 

Famed rap and R&B artist Drake dropped a bombshell on March 18 with the surprise release of the highly anticipated “More Life” less than a year after the maligned “Views.”

Out of the depths

While not his best work to date, “More Life” certainly revives Champagne Papi from the depths of egregious radio pop music. Due to his name’s sake, a few cuts off this 22-track “playlist” will make their way onto radio airwaves, destining this mixtape to become slightly annoying. For the time being, “More Life” anoints Drake as viable once again.

The unnecessary number of tracks was a notable complaint I expressed in my critique of “Views” last year. The same problem hinders “More Life” from being outright great.

“Views” became saturated in 82 minutes of monotonous crooning and invariant production and subject matter. While there were five “good” tracks on the 2016 release, 15 of them were completely forgettable. That is to say, “Views” managed to be the most trivial and overrated compilation of garbage put out in 2016.

At his best

“More Life” shells out more tracks than “Views” —  22. Luckily for Drake, at least half of this so-called “playlist” showcases him at his best.

It is hard to gauge exactly why Drizzy put out two gratuitously long projects in a row, but the same formula increases his odds of having more than one hit. Unlike last year, the odds are in his favor.

Thematic and sonic incoherency plagued “Views,” a destined issue with an album this long. Those issues remain but to a lesser degree with “More Life.” However, the intended lack of coherency acts as a double-edge sword. Drake labeled this project as a “playlist.” This certainly plays like one, sprawling in sound, varying in themes and surprising in production, ultimately offering a sneak peek into Drake’s current artistic headspace.

A sonic pinboard

“More Life” makes more sense as the artist's sonic pinboard than a thematic album. If this is a playlist that delves into what dwells within Drake’s artistic mind, then a collection of tracks featuring his more frequent collaborators and influencers makes perfect sense. Kanye West, Young Thug, Sampha, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Skepta and PARTYNEXTDOOR each provide a talented springboard for Drake to play off of as he showcases his range and occasional witty bar.

This mixtape is a colorful palette of sounds, copiously plunging between ‘80s-inspired R&B, gospel and simple trap beats. But what really pushed this mixtape over the line of mediocrity was the numerous dancehall cuts. In my review of “Views,” I mentioned how much I loved the bouncy, tropical tracks of “One Dance” and “Too Good.” I wished “Views” featured more of the same, as it has proven to be a successful formula for the rapper in the past. The best cuts from “More Life” feature dancehall afrobeats accentuated by “Passionfruit,” “Get it Together” and “Madiba Riddim.” The inclusion of these tracks alongside the simple yet memorable trap-influenced cuts make this album worthwhile.

In terms of subject matter, Drake once again fails to deviate from the gimmicky themes that explore love and the “hard life” of “being rich.” Needless to say, “More Life’” does in fact inspire exponentially more liveliness than his 2016 failure. This record sees Drake tinker with a breadth of styles and sounds that has validated his evolving signature on rap and R&B. He digs through the grave of what worked for him in the past and injects it into “More Life,” a mixtape sure to define the soundtrack to the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

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