Review Summary: They want me gone, wait for the kicker; Bury me now and I only get bigger.
The problem with Views
" If You’re Reading this it’s Too Late
, a stripped back, barely there, braggadocios curio, was everything it should’ve been. Replete with geographical references to Toronto and densely worded tributes to family and friends, it cemented the 180-degree character turn from Degrassi to 6 God; the realization of Drake being an all shi
t-talking, no-nonsense, anti-hero rapper’s rapper. On “Legend,” he boorishly bragged about the lavishness of his lifestyle; on “Energy,” he name-checked his enemies with some degree of pettiness; on “Know Yourself,” he trotted out his nasty flow and blew up a Socratic saying. In contrast, Views
was haphazardly slung together with little care for flow, structure, or thematic consequence; it hung together by its banner of the 6, but never achieved anything worthy of the overhype fed into it by a twelve months of being the most commercially expendable rapper of the moment. Last year, I described Views
as a place where, ‘the peak has been reached and the fall looks daunting if not unavoidable,’ and went on to assess it as a ‘triumph.’ And with hindsight, it would appear that assessment was premature; Views
was easily the hardest and least graceful fall Drake's career could have asked for.
Twelve months after Views
, the public and critical opinion has settled on Drake, one of firm discontent at a culture vulture and a terminal dickhead. Clearly aware of this, More Life
is at the very least an improvement upon what Views
resulted in; a ‘playlist’ (to excuse the lack of flow), built around borrowed Kingston, East London, and Atlanta movements. It’s overlong (again) overhyped (again) and undercooked (that’s right) and without much concern for what Drake sounds like as opposed to what Drake wants
to sound like. But, in saying as much, More Life
does manage to work its way out of being judged along the same standard as Views
, with its structure indebted to OVO Radio’s barrage of loose tracks and curiosities, curated by a personal preference rather than anything else. That’s likely why Drake’s leaner yet somehow less nimbler trap and grime numbers, the flaccid 1-2 punch of “Free Smoke” and truly awful Giggs collaboration “No Long Talk,” open the record, only for the sublime and club-ready “Passionfruit” to stumble out without much momentum moments later. More Life
is packed with these false-starts and lame stretches, never really arriving at cohesiveness (the haphazardly stitched together “Portland,” “Since Way Back,”) and occasionally stumbling into greatness (the J-Lo sample and meditation of “Teenage Fever,” the rat-a-tat-a-tat talk-flow of “Sacrifices.”) But its also got more highlights and moments than we’re currently accustomed to from Drake, so it’s excusable. Not to mention the self-curated interludes- Skepta, Sampha- provides much needed respites when Drake’s villainous diatribes become insufferable. It’s not necessarily an improvement but it is progress, because at least this 80-minute marathon of Drake-d up clichés isn’t boring. Easily, it's the most likable Drake’s been in months.
Of course, not much can be said for what is essentially an extended episode of OVO Radio. There are problems that result from packing a 22-song playlist with lax attention to detail, and the concept- that of rarities and others rubbing shoulders at the cost of consistency- is not enough to attract those disinterested in hearing more of Drake than is absolutely necessary. Still, the turnaround from Views
is remarkable, and the occasional standout does indicate that Drake’s been listening to some of the basic criticisms. It all stacks up as an agreeable (not wonderful, definitely
not boring) assortment of thumpers, enough to pass the time until Drake finds a new culture to pillage.