‘More Life’ is rather lifeless, unbecoming of Drake

Throughout his career, Drake has become more and more of a commercial artist, producing sub-par work that lacks the depth of emotions present in earlier records. / Courtesy of NRKP3 via flickr

Last year, I reviewed Drake’s last album “Views” for The Miscellany News and I honestly don’t know what I was on when I wrote that review. I gave it four out of five stars for reasons that are dubious to me now. I talked a lot about musicality and whatnot and said that the album would age well. I even went as far as to make a pun about Drake getting better with age because he was cheesy.

And I can say, with all the cosmic power vested in me by my columnist status, that that review is wack and that I was thoroughly wrong. The vast majority of that album has not aged well. In fact, only a handful of tracks have—“Hotline Bling,” “Feel No Ways” and “Weston Road Flows,” to name a few. And now not even a year later we have another Drake album, entitled “More Life.” And I’m hoping I can do a review of this album more justice.

And yeah, it’s alright. If anything, I think that this album solidifies what style of Drake we are going to be getting for the foreseeable future. The same braggadocious Drake that only has a handful of truly great tracks to backup his claims of greatness. And yeah, I do think that some of this album is really great.

At the same time, I don’t want to repeat what I did with “Views” and oversell this album. While there are great tracks on “More Life,” I’m not sure if they’re enough to lift up all 22 songs (which is exactly the same length as “Views”).

I also don’t want to undersell this album either. I think Drake gets a lot of hate because he is an (admittedly) easy name to criticize, and I think that these criticisms sometimes cover up aspects of his music that really are stellar.

All this being said, I think that “More Life” is better than “Views,” but that it still suffers from many of the same issues that “Views” had. Like that this album is bloated. Like 22 tracks bloated. Like I’ve listened to ambient drone albums that are shorter than this. But—and this is a big but— there’s a lot on here to like in these 22 tracks. And Drake’s best qualities shine through on “More Life,” more so than they did on “Views.”

One thing I’ve heard said about these past two Drake albums that I think is close to the truth is that he is not so much trying to put out concise, dense albums that adhere to a theme, tone or message. Instead, he is trying to put out as much music as he can that flows through vibes and moods.

Drake isn’t trying to put out albums for his feelings per se, but is trying to be a DJ for every situation. It seems like Drake tries to capture music for a wide array of emotions that he goes through. This would explain why Drake changes his style and flows so much on a single album. It’s not really experimentation because everything does sound very Drake, but it keeps the listener on their feet to some degree, and some of the album’s best moments come from these changes.

At the same time, though, if there’s a style you don’t like, it just sits there taking up too much space.

I found this to be true with songs like “No Long Talk,” “Blem” or some of the features on this album (mainly the ones that come from the artist Giggs).

By the same measure, this album’s best moments are when Drake falls into a groove that works well. The seven-song stretch from “Lose You” to the closer “Do Not Disturb” is one that I find fantastic despite its shortcomings. You first have Drake calling back to his slower, more laid-back tracks on cuts like “Do Not Disturb” or “Lose You.”

These are interspersed with harder tracks packed to the brim with excellent features, like on “Ice Melts” or “Sacrifices,” that work to complement and resonate with the other songs in this stretch (although the best track with multiple features on it is “Portland,” featuring Quavo and Travid Scott, but I have Oregon in my blood so I’m biased).

And then there are great one-off moments where Drake comes through with some really solid tracks. The style of rap in the opener “Free Smoke” is in the vein of Drake’s excellent “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” and it proves that Drake can still spit verses as if he were the biggest rapper in the game today (although popularity doesn’t always equate to proficiency– Soulja Boy was popular once). And the duo of songs “Nothings Into Somethings” and the J-Lo sampling “Teenage Fever” are both stellar slow tracks.

Next, the pop songs. Drake knows that the only way to make more money is to produce more mega-hits à la “Hotline Bling,” and I’d say we get two on this album: “Passionfruit” and “Fake Love.” I love “Passionfruit.” I am infatuated with this song and it’s terrible and wonderful. The song is simple, sad and catchy. It’s my favorite song from the album at the moment, and I have a creeping suspicion that I’m going to be sick of it come summertime like I was with “Hotline Bling.”

All this being said, it’s still a very Drake album, which is to say it’s very petty. Drake gets caught up in his feelings all the time over this album and it just kinda festers in his typical rich boy angst. There’s a lot of pointing fingers and talking about invisibles “yous” that Drake is blaming for stuff. And it gets old after 22 tracks (but I like how “Passionfruit” plays with this idea of a relationship falling apart—seriously a stellar track).

And yeah, I think there’s a bunch of tracks here that I’m going to come back to, but I feel like I’m going to have the same complaint I had with “Views”: this album is just all hot air. There’s nothing unifying behind these tracks like there was with “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” or “Nothing Was the Same.” The worst part of “More Life” isn’t the subpar features or the bloated track listing. No, the worst part of this album is how shallow it is.

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