Drake’s new project More Life, which premiered Saturday night on his OVO Sound Radio on Apple Music, boasts the exact same runtime — 1 hour and 22 minutes — as Views, his sprawling studio album from last April.
Consistency is a lot to ask for a 22-track collection, and like Views, More Life is too packed with ideas to make for a unified aesthetic. But perhaps the difference between the poorly reviewed Views and More Life, which Twitter welcomed as a return to form for the rapper, has as much to do with its framing as with its songs.
Drake deliberately labeled his latest project a “playlist,” and while the difference may be in name only, More Life makes way more sense as the artist’s sonic Pinterest board as it does a proper album. Of course a Drake mixtape would include his frequent collaborators and favorite influencers, with his verses often taking a back seat to contributions by Kanye West, Young Thug, Travis Scott, Quavo, 2 Chainz, Skepta and PARTYNEXTDOOR. More Life leapfrogs from dancehall and grime to moody R&B and beats built from elementary school recorders. And why wouldn’t it, if his mixtape is surveying his musical headspace of the moment?
When seen as a collage of inspiration, More Life and its peaks and valleys, including a killer run of summertime-ready dance tracks that precedes the album’s less-impressive second half, don’t seem as distracting as they would on a Drake studio album, which have the heightened responsibility of meeting the standards set by his previous critically acclaimed projects Take Care and Nothing Was the Same.
But the bar shouldn’t be set any lower for More Life because it’s a mixtape, and thankfully for Drake fans, it’s better than Views, injecting some life into the mid-tempo beats that dominate both releases. However listeners want to categorize More Life, its proof of quality isn’t in its concept, it’s in its songs, and these were the tracks that stood out.
(Warning: Explicit language.)
After two opening songs that see Drake returning to the shots-fired paranoia that helped sink Views,Passionfruit bursts with color, a track that nods to the ’80s-referencing earnestness of his hit Hold On, We’re Going Home, and the first in a string of Caribbean-inspired tracks that show the rapper isn’t finished with his successful formula from past hits One Dance and Controlla.