Free Music Download: Drake – “More Life” Album Review
I’m not going to lie, Drake’s More Life has been one of our most highly anticipated releases of 2017. Without giving too much away, Drake’s “playlist” is pretty much a comprehensive analysis of hip-hop over the last 2 or 3 years. I have to say I enjoyed the record on the first listen, but it’s honestly a lot to take in at one sitting. My feeling having listened to it a couple of times since then, is that this is a driving record: a montage of hip-hop, house, and R&B forms melded into a DJ set of sorts to form a sprawling, yet more or less cohesive whole that exposes the listener to a range of facets of the artist we haven’t seen before.
The record feels like a five-act play with Drake as the protagonist. The cover art of his father (priceless ‘state by the way) indicates that this is a coming of age effort. While that concept is fraught with challenges and contradictions, it ultimately proves out. Along this Pilgrim’s Progress of sorts, our hero encounters haters, players, all manner of women, and even a real brow-beating from his mom.
I compare this record to Pilgrim’s Progress because on the playlist, as in John Bunyon’s religious allegory, our hero doesn’t make the epic quest alone. There are many different companions and collaborators who accompany the hero on his journey into “more life.” Just off the top of my head I can remember hearing:
- Kanye West
- Jorja Smith
- 2 Chainz
- Lil’ Wayne
- Black Coffee
But it’s also similar in that Drake ups his ethics game a little bit, or at least he wants us to think so. This is as close to emo as the mogul has ever gotten. A few of the songs, like “Since Way Back” and “Lose You” express deep self-awareness, regret, and humility, as well as an eagerness to hook up the people who stuck by him and supported his pursuit of excellence. We could read this as “growing up” from the playboy nature of his earlier work, or we could also read it as an ironic psychological tactic to make more women melt for him. After all, this is the guy who claimed he “started from the bottom.”
Either way, Drake is nothing if not prolific, having dropped Views in 2016, and this mix tape is a blend of all things Drake and just a few things Abel; yes, Drizzy invokes a healthy share of Weeknd’s engineering indulgences on this record, and I don’t just mean lyrically. The syrupy textures of the album’s production are dialed in for the most part, he feels content with a hodgepodge of tried-and-true pop formulas over innovative beat production that we’d get from, say, a Kendrick Lamar or Kanye West record. That’s not to say most of this playlist doesn’t sound great, it does. In fact the record continues to grow on me every time I listen to it. At first I felt like there was some excess filler to the record and, sure, some of the slow jams may feel indulgent in comparison to some of the livelier moments on the playlist, but More Life is a tapestry of tropes and repeat listens bear those out. So what makes this record worth downloading?
Drake starts us off on a familiar foot with “Free Smoke” and “No More Talk,” two icebreaker tracks that could easily be combined into one song and the sum total would be stronger. These tracks hearken back to his earliest work, raw, chauvinistic (“I wake up in sororities”) and a little unhinged, but mainly looking to party and get laid. Probably my two of my least favorite tracks on the album, but don’t get discouraged!
The mixtape really takes off with “Passionfruit,” the first true radio single. We get a sense of some Starboy–style production affinities and flair here, hints of “I Feel It Coming” in the air of this track, which is not necessarily bad. The groovy tropical house is a theme on this playlist that gets established here to great effect. I love the finer touches like the ambient noises and snippets of conversation. The fact that the track gets interrupted by an omniscient DJ is pretty hilarious.
Most entrancing of all is the pulsing house beat that we didn’t get in the first two tracks, perhaps signaling a meta-theatrical journey from inside his apartment with his buddy to a night out on the town in the club. Maybe I’m reaching, but it kinda works as a stylistic through line, as the next four songs, “Jorja Interlude,” “Get It Together,” “Madiba Riddim,” and “Blem” are all legitimate dance floor shakers, the latter being one of my favorite tracks on the playlist.
“Blem” is the pivot point from the tropical portion of the playlist to the Heavy Trap portion. On first listen I kinda checked out here, but on subsequent takes, this track really grew on me. I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck “Blem” means though. To blame? Not sure, but I am sure that this song contains my favorite post-modern male deliberation lyric: “Why can’t we smash and still be friends?” Why, indeed.
Besides the ultra-slick production and thick beat, “Blem” contains one of the more intriguing philosophical deliberations on the album: to stay single and free or look for someone to settle down with? Clearly the girl wants more than Drake is willing to give at this point, but do we admire him or throw shade on his commitment to hedonism?
After the syrupy transition number “4422” we get “Gyalchester” an energetic, and nuanced collaboration with British emerging star Giggs, who kinda rips off Desiigner a little bit here, but the melodies, lyrics, and aggressiveness of the thump are good enough to make you forget that you pretty much heard this song last year under the name “Panda.” All that means that it’s danceable as all get out and you’ll probably hear it all over the radio this summer.
After another connective tissue track, “Skepta Interlude,” we get the best intro line on the whole album:
“My side girl’s got a 5s with a screen cracked, still hit me back”
This is the hilarious opening to “Portland,” a progressive sort of hip-hop track that, like the follow up “Sacrifices,” is infectious, fun, and easily listenable. These songs showcase not only Drake’s strength as a sideman (2 Chainz is awesome on this song) but also the power of his production team as his oft-repetitive loops here serve to bolster and buttress the overall theme of change, imagination, and diversity. Drake shows off facility with both his singing and his rapping on these songs, both destined for massive radio airplay, a presentation we haven’t gotten with this level of focus even on Views, admittedly a more aggressive record.
If you’re in a pinch or looking to craft a lean mean playlist, then “Nothing Into Something” and “Teenage Fever” are skippable placeholder songs, unless you have a soft spot for the “If I Gave You All My Love” sample that pops up before “KMT” picks the energy back up in a big Giggs kind of way. Even “KMT” is a transition track in clever disguise, but the trap bass is so ribcage-shaking and the verse is so raw that I can’t stop listening to it! Also this track is evidence of UK’s Giggs as a legitimate rap star on the rise. He more than anyone besides it’s eponymous creator benefits from the mastery of the album. Another reason “KMT” is so good is because it perfectly sets up “Lose You,” what I believe to be the warm heart and center of this playlist.
Let’s face it: Drake’s not exactly humble. We’ve seen that from his entire catalog and a lot of this album to boot; but “Lose You” is the strongest track on the album for exactly the opposite reason. Here Drake actually shows some wisdom and humility in the lyrics; his rapping is strong all the way through and his singing is catchy enough to work. The organ/piano leads are one of the highlights sonically as the song dances around you with a minimal beat that showcases the substance of the writer’s thoughts.
“Can’t Have Everything” is the next track, and like it’s predecessor is right in the pocket, dance-wise. I’d love to get this one on a big system and throw down. This Could easily see this one with Hype Williams music video treatment: Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, Iraq, Flint water crisis, Oscar Grant, all coalescing with Hillary, Russia, Bernie, and Donald Trump…just as his mom says “when they go low, we go high.” That’d be some deep shit. How about it Drizzy?
After that the album continues. It’s long. The track “Glow” features a sick Kanye intro that would make for great baseball walk-up music while “Fake Love” is basic old school, predictable “Hotline Bling” Drake that I’m more than happy to skip. For my money, “Since Way Back” is the last truly exceptional piece of music on More Life.
Behold my winner of sexiest melody on the album:
Things are getting hot and heavy / Girl I know you know already
Besides the all out sultriness of the words and attitude, I love how this song pivots around the 2:20 point, heading into a different stylistic direction, where the autotune kicks in it gets really steamy – “What are you on? Gotta let me know something” he croons. This song does so many things right, I could go on for hours, but why not just download it for free, turn off the wi-fi, and find out for yourself?
The album closes strongly with heavy hitters “Ice Melts” and “Do Not Disturb,” both songs boasting a tone more similar to how the album started, with the predictable Drake tropes in play: tropicalia, flirting, and bass. I guess we take that to mean that our pilgrim has eaten a few slices of humble pie, but he’s still falling into some old tricks and he’s far from slowing down his game.
TOP TEN SONGS (in no particular order):
- Lose You
- Since Way Back
- Ice Melts
- Can’t Have Everything
What do you think about Drake’s More Life? Will the experimental hip-hop playlist win him a Best Album Grammy? Let us know in the comments below!
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