When Drake first announced his latest project, “More Life,” would be released as a playlist rather than a traditional studio album or even a mixtape, he drew widespread skepticism for making a seemingly arbitrary decision. Many derided the playlist designation as a different name for the same output, with The Ringer even commenting, “It’s just an album, dude.”
Now that the actual music is out, however, Drake’s intention has become crystal clear. “More Life” is not meant to be interpreted as a cohesive body of work, but a collection of songs with something for every mood and situation — or as the rapper himself put it, “the soundtrack to your life.” And by drawing inspiration from an eclectic range of sonic influences, he definitely reaches this goal.
Throughout the 22-song tracklist, Drake invites listeners to his magic carpet and shows them the world by showcasing music and sounds from a variety of places. The first stop is Great Britain — the song “No Long Talk” features the murky elements of British grime rap and spotlights South London rapper Giggs, who also makes a second appearance in “KMT.” In addition, “Skepta Interlude” features fellow British grime rapper Skepta while “Get It Together” is dominated by the vocals of British singer Jorja Smith.
Further testament to the influence of international music comes from other tracks, drawing production styles from the Caribbean and Africa. For example, “Madiba Riddim” is an infectious dancehall-inspired track which promises to be Drake’s next “One Dance.” The name itself is a play on its production source, with “Madiba Riddim” resembling the phrase “my type of rhythm” pronounced with a thick Jamaican accent. In “Get It Together,” he samples South African DJ Black Coffee to create an irresistibly vibey song.
Aside from the worldly production influence, Drake also utilizes an all-star supporting cast to augment the playlist’s diversity. In “Glow” — a track about superstardom — Kanye West invokes his experience in the public spotlight to anchor the song and give it a candidly optimistic quality. Young Thug appears in two songs and bestows a playful exuberance upon each, while Quavo and Travis Scott complement one another’s murky styles in “Portland.”
In terms of lyrical content and themes, Drake generally follows the trails blazed out by his previous works. For example, “Free Smoke” is a fearless and potentially arrogant declaration of his dominance over the rap game — a theme previously explored in “Views” and “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” Anyone who dares challenge him will get smoked for free, and to back up his credentials, Drake makes reference to one of his previous victims, Meek Mill, “How you let the kid fightin’ ghost-writing rumors turn you to a ghost?”
But Drake isn’t Drake without the moody and heartfelt melodies which made him famous, and these are present too. “Passionfruit” is quintessential Drake, catching him right in the feels as he pours his heart out over his inability to maintain a long-distance relationship. Perhaps his most emotionally charged song since “Marvins Room,” it is night and day from the take-no-prisoners attitude displayed in other songs on the playlist — further proof of the rapper-singer’s endless versatility.
“More Life” is a playlist without a doubt, manifesting itself as a multitude of clashing energies and musical directions all compiled in one body of work. With an eclectic variety of production quality, features and lyrical themes, he successfully bridges any gaps in his discography without doubt providing listeners with a healthy dose of old and new.
“More Life” is an anthology which first takes listeners through the Museum of Drake and then around the world, breathing yet more life into an already legendary career.