Drake has been on a roll since…as long as I can remember. Since the 2011 release of Take Care, his steady ascension to the rap industry’s throne has been well documented. This weekend he dropped another classic, More Life.
The Toronto native continuously takes us on a journey through his music. A little after 6 p.m. on Saturday night, he dropped the album on his radio show. Few rappers in the game have as much clout as Drake, and his ability to put the world on pause as everyone tunes in to listen to his music is just another credit to how influential he has become.
On More Life, Drake once again takes on us his impressive progression from a struggling underground rapper to a worldwide star. There are a few essential tracks dedicated to this journey. They serve as the foundation for the album.
There are also Drake’s new found Caribbean vibe popping up on a few tracks. He found success in 2016 with “Controlla” and “One Dance.” He continued that trend with a few more summer jams on More Life.
After that, he transitions to his new found talent of diss-track rapping. Meek Mill and Joe Budden took shots at Drake consistently in 2016. However, it seems Drake once again has the last laugh. He has a few piercing lines that get his point across without letting that negative energy take over his album.
We are accustomed to his cross over with trapper-rappers. He utilizes verses from Quavo, Travis Scott, Young Thug and 2 Chainz perfectly. Additionally, Drake shows us a new side he has seemed to develop. It pays off to be a worldwide sensation, as it has opened doors to finding new musical talent in every city. Giggs, a London underground rapper with a gritty flow and sharp vocals appears on two tracks. London grime rap is a side of Drake we have never really seen on an album, but both sounds are well executed.
Throw in samples from the likes of J-Lo, Lionel Richie and R. Kelly and you have a 22-track masterpiece.
I’ll try not to name every one of them, but here are a few of the smoothest tracks.
The intro track. After a peaceful, high-pitched soliloquy from an unnamed female singer, Drake gets right to the point. Produced by his long-time friend, Boi-1da, Drake sounds right at home on this beat. The album is extremely complex at points, but this one is all about bragging.
This beat has a repetitive, trance feel too it that enables Drake to find a zone and rap for over two minutes. Some of the highlights include.
“I drunk text J-Lo, old number so it bounce back, Boi Wonder got the bounce back.”
“Women I like was ignoring me, now they’re like aren’t you adorable, I know the question rhetorical.”
“I brought the game to its knees, I make way too much these days to ever say poor me.”
Great start Drizzy.
No Long Talk (feat. Giggs)
2/2. Drake wastes no time introducing his underground protege from London. Drizzy molds to his style to that of his featured artist and begins rapping with a twang in his voice that is reminiscent of an English accent.
This is a part in the album seems to head back to his roots of underground, backpack rapping. Drake fans are very familiar with the 2010 album, Thank Me Later. This track would be a welcomed addition.
Also, this isn’t the last time we hear Giggs on the album. It most likely won’t be the last time we hear of Giggs in general. This should do wonders for his career, and the chemistry he has with Drake is some of the best on the album.
Lyrics include a clever a shout out to his producer on the track, Murda Beatz. In his pseudo-Island/English accent, he uses catchy London jargon before he lets Giggs take over.
Giggs is synonymous with grime. With a Jamaican background, but English upbringing, he molds those two styles together nicely. His bashful, underground style is almost a way of letting Drake say some things that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to in regards to coming across as phony.
I say that as I re-read Drake imitating an English accent, but its something we’ve heard him do before. Giggs is a nice touch as Drake employs plenty of big name artists we’ve already heard of at other points in the album.
I can see it now. It’s mid-June, I’m at the beach and this song comes on. Everyone within ear shot will start drinking and dancing, I guarantee it. A lighthearted mixture of “Find Your Love” and “One Dance,” Drake hits another radio single home-run.
It might not be the best track, but it certainly will be the most popular. Caribbean vibes, a steady bass drum in the background and Drake’s classic R&B tone have all been proven winners over the past couple years. When it comes to Drake, songs like these are not a matter of if, but when and how many.
The lyrics stem from always having a good time with a significant other. However, the closer they get and the more serious the relationship becomes, things become complicated.
“Distant, harder building trust from a distance,” is a line in the song that sums up its general message. A quick excerpt from Zoe Kravitz is another nugget for the impressive track.
Although these are the first three tracks on the album, I promise I won’t analyze all 22.
Right around the midway point of the album, Drake seems to hit a peak. This is my personal favorite although many songs are fighting for the top spot on the album. A mixture of arrogance and ignorance, this track is at a perfect spot in the album, and is fitting that it has no features.
The name stems from a clever bit of culture that the worldly Drake has picked up on. Gyalchester is an English term as opposed to the city of Manchester. Drake is usually surrounded by pretty women wherever he goes, hence; “Gyalchester.”
As for the lyrics, these are impressively woven over a beat that features piano and violin and an incredible bass drop. The hook is my favorite part of the album.
“Wait for the kicker, bury me now and I’ll only get bigger,” is Drake’s realization that he has crossed in to the realm of Biggie and Tupac. ’90s rap aficionados will have a bone to pick with me for saying that. However, Drake has now seized the top spot in the rap game, and his death would now be remembered just as well if not more than his predecessors. Upper echelon music, Grammy’s, a clothing line, a restaurant and a record label are just some of the achievements Drake has accomplished in his career. At 30, he is in his prime and flexing his muscle every chance he gets.
This song serves as the anthem for those accomplishments and honestly every lyric is a clever punchline about how effortless the ascension was and how he is taking advantage of being in that position.
“I know I said Top Five, but I’m Top Two and I’m not Two,” just about sums it up.
Portland (feat. Quavo and Travis Scott)
The return of the recorder! Made famous on “Mask Off” by Future, the elementary school instrument makes another appearance. This song also makes it on the list due to the nature of the features. Currently, two of the most well-known rappers in the game are Quavo of Migos and Travis Scott.
If you need a hook and a verse, it seems as if Quavo is your man. His solo career outside of the outstanding work he does with Migos is impressive in its own right. As for Travis Scott, he is the reincarnation of Bun B, a mentor to Drake in his early years.
Scott hails from Houston, and brings a creative flair to the traditional chopped and screwed nature of the city. Travis Scott recently joined Drake on his world tour, and these two have been on tracks before. This might be the best one yet. Drake is about to crank the album down a notch in terms of intensity, but not before he unleashes this track.
Drake often gets criticized for not being “street” enough to be affiliated with the likes of Quavo and Travis Scott. However, rappers are lining up to get on songs with Drake and he welcomes only the best. Other features from that genre include Young Thug and 2 Chainz on “Sacrifices”, but this song bumps just a little harder.
Ah the J-Lo rumors were fun weren’t they. From dating to a potential collaboration, the music world was buzzing whenever these two would pop up on Instagram together.
However, it seems Jennifer Lopez was there for musical direction and songwriting. This track delves in to the 90s hip-hop realm that J-Lo thrived in. Rappers such as LL Cool J, Ja Rule, Nelly and Diddy were pillars for the crossover hit when they would recruit the likes of Ashanti, Kelly Rowland and Jennifer Lopez.
Drake turns back the clock as we see something similar to “Marvin’s Room” and “Doing It Wrong”. It is all about missed opportunities in Drake’s love life and how he often ponders returning to the relationships that were the most fruitful. Every move he makes gets dissected, especially romantically, so repairing burnt bridges isn’t always as easy as it seems.
A frustrated Drake seems to be at a crossroads, and uses the sample from J-Lo’s “If You Had My Love,” to express his feelings.
“Out of body, that’s just how I feel when I’m with you shawty,” is the lyric that sticks out to me in this one.
Glow (feat. Kanye West)
Love it or hate it, this one had to make the list. The first time we ever heard Kanye and Drake on the same track it sounded very different. “Forever,” with Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Eminem was Drake’s initiation in the rap game, took place in 2009. Almost a decade later, the two have ascended to unimaginable heights.
Kanye West is often criticized, but creative geniuses are often misunderstood. As for Drake, he started off as being able to do no wrong. He can now sympathize a little bit with West as every move the rapper makes is under a microscope.
Way past the point of about to “blow,” a way of saying a rapper is next up, these two are in the realm of glowing up. That is where the name stems from. It seems that the two have taken a break from their hectic lifestyles to appreciate how far they’ve come. The two are neighbors in Calabasas, CA so it was only a matter of time before they jumped on a track together.
It has a raw feel thanks to the beat, but the lyrics work as a perfect contrast. There is even a “Started From the Bottom,” shout out midway through the song, as Drake struggled early on in life in Toronto with family and financial issues. As for West, he survived the inner-city of Chicago growing up, some of the most rugged streets in America. Arguably the two most important pillars in the rap game put together a gem finished off nicely with an upbeat sample from Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Devotion.”
Do Not Disturb
Last but not least. Drake puts a bow on his 22-track album with the final song, “Do Not Disturb.” This pretty much serves as Drake’s message to the rest of the rap game. He will seemingly put his life on “Do Not Disturb” after releasing this album. He is also finishing up a world tour in Europe, so for the past year Drake hasn’t stopped.
His evolution shines through in this song. Intricate rapping over another produced Boi-1da beat is the perfect way to end the album. He started the album off with a warning and finishes it with the same.
Analyzing this song just doesn’t seem right. Listen for yourself to hear the perfect ending to one of my favorite albums. It is essentially a memo to the rest of the rap game that he no longer has time to divulge in negative beefs, or diss-tracks. He lives a blessed life and will only focus on positives to continue on this path that has led him to being so successful. Of course the last lyrics on the album is More Life, a fitting touch. He also hints that the next time we hear from him might be in 2018. If so, the rest is well-deserved Mr. Graham. Enjoy the vacation and thanks for the playlist of 2017.
Honorable Mention: “Blem”, “KMT”, “Sacrifices”, “Nothings Into Somethings”
Photos courtesy of Drake’s official Instagram page, @champagnepapi.