Less love, ‘More Life’

Music distribution has changed drastically over the last few years. With the introduction of streaming platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music, artists have tailored their marketing strategies to fit new trends in music streaming. One such artist is R&B and hip-hop artist Drake.

More Life, Drake
More Life, Republic Records

In 2016, Drake released his fourth and most commercially successful studio album Views. The album broke sales records and set a new trend for streaming in the new age of music.

Where Views failed to garner the critical acclaim of the rapper’s earlier work, it succeeded among fans. The record’s success led to a stadium tour that only further established Drake as the biggest rapper in music today.

In keeping with the momentum of his Summer Sixteen Tour, Drake announced his new playlist More Life in late November. What sets the 22-song set apart from a mixtape or studio album is its informal presentation. The stream-of-consciousness narrative provides scattered glimpses into Drake’s life. More Life is better than Views in several ways, and Drake brilliantly utilizes a new and original marketing strategy to release the project.

Drake and his label OVO debuted the More Life playlist on the 39th episode of OVO Sound Radio, a radio station on Apple Music. This release strategy allowed Drake to be more experimental with the work.

The work opens with back to back uptempo tracks “Free Smoke” and “No Long Talk (feat. Giggs).” With these introductory songs, Drake reminds his listeners that he’s still the champion of rap and can set aside his softer side, replacing it with harder flows.

After these tracks, though, Drake returns to his successful dancehall formula with the tracks “Passionfruit,” “Get it Together,” “Madiba Riddim” and “Blem.”

While some of these tracks are far stronger than others, their aesthetic is comforting and provides fans of “One Dance” and “Controlla” with more of the same. One track, “Jorja’s Interlude,” even contains a sample of Drake’s own “Doing It Wrong,” implying the artist is seeking to reclaim the glory associated with his critical peak Take Care.

While the curation of More Life is impressive and original, it does not earn points for originality. Like on Views, Drake is plagued by the alienation of being at the top of the music industry. More Life perpetuates the already tired subject matter associated with much of Views.

What’s most interesting is that these attitudes possessed by Drake are addressed by his own mother on the track “Can’t Have Everything.” Drake’s mom urges him to adopt a more uplifting mindset. This positivity is reflected in the tracks “Ice Melts” and “Do Not Disturb.” “Ice Melts” provided a lighter tone that was absent from the overserious Views, and More Life could have benefited from more tracks like it. While More Life indulges in a lot of the same subject matter, it shows Drake working to return to form.

In terms of content, More Life is typical Drake. It shows the superstar using the same conversation topics to say the same things. More Life‘s saving grace is its style. Featuring popular artists and rappers such as Young Thug, Travis Scott, Sampha and Quavo, More Life exceeds Drake’s sonic comfort zone. “Do Not Disturb” is an outro that perfectly reflects the playlist’s nuances.

While inconsistent in quality, More Life is an ambitious addition to Drake’s discography.

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