6 essential tracks from Drake’s imposing new playlist ‘More Life’
Once again, Drake has dropped
an album a playlist that is really, really long. At 22 tracks across an hour and 21 minutes, fully digesting More Life is a huge chore, no matter how much you love him.
Though it’s been out for less than four days, More Life has already smashed through a tonne of streaming records. Perhaps more importantly, it’s received widespread critical acclaim – far, far more than last year’s Views. Listening through More Life, it almost feels like a compilation – he’s singled out the sounds, beats and lyrical themes that are the most definitely Drakey, and used them to craft a bevy of new songs that are all remarkably on point.
On More Life, Drake officially becomes pop-rap. For every gritty UK grime beat, there’s a tropical synth, and for every verse from Kanye, 2 Chainz or Travis Scott, there’s a velvety R&B melody.
Bucking traditional as usual, Drake didn’t release any singles before the album dropped. While Drizzy obsessives are content gorging on the entire album, this approach is understandably overwhelming for the causal listener. So, we took a good, long listen to More Life, and picked out our six favourite songs so you didn’t have to.
This track didn’t just stand out to me, but to many millions of fans who’ve streamed it more than any other on the record. It’s understated and mature, with softly bouncing beats and a wistful sentimental vibe, ultimately feeling like a kind of grown up ‘One Dance’.
There’s a sense of sadness in the lyrics, where Drake laments the struggles of a long distance relationship. It’s one of the catchiest earworm tracks on the album, which says a lot given there’s more killer than filler this time around. This track is going to be everywhere for a long, long time.
#2 Portland (ft. Quavo and Travis Scott)
First off, the use of a flute on a trap hook is pure genius and should happen far more often. Second, ‘Portland’ is evidence that Drake has found the perfect middle ground between his own poppy sound and trap (as opposed to a straight-up mix a la WATTBA, his collaborative mix with Future). The song contains some of Drake’s best bars, and he’s knowingly handpicked two of trap’s best – Quavo and Travis Scott – to inject the fuel needed to push this to ‘instant classic’ status.
His curatorial skills really shows themselves on tracks like this, going some way to explain his decision to call this a ‘playlist’ rather than an album.
#3 Sacrifices (ft. 2 Chainz and Young Thug)
Ever thought you’d hear these three together on a piano-led track with ambient synths and a gentle beat that quietly bubbles away in the distance? Me neither. It’s evidence of when less really is more. While this isn’t my favourite track on the album, it’s essential listening because it features Young Thug … and yet Young Thug is not using auto-tune.
I don’t think he’s ever sounded so clear on record – and it sounds amazing. I’m flabbergasted and so confused. Why would he veil a tone and flow that sounds so good clean?
#4 Free Smoke
The opening track is one of the most crucial moments for any album; that all important first impression setting the tone for the music to follow. Amazingly, Drake opens More Life with a sample from Australia’s very own Hiatus Kaiyote. Exactly how this all happened is unknown right now, but it’s incredible nonetheless. Their Choose Your Weapon track ‘Building A Ladder’ is slightly pitch shifted and sped up, with Nai Palm’s commanding voice leading the way.
The track only gets bigger from there, with a glistening beat and introductory lyrics that catch us up to speed with Drake’s life of late, including references to Meek Mill, Jay Z and J Lo.
#5 Get It Together ft. Black Coffee and Jorja Smith
This is probably the track that inspired Ebro to make the bizarre comment that Drake has brought back house music. While Ebro has apparently managed to entirely miss, y’know, R&B-infused house music, you can’t deny the danceability of this track. ‘Get It Together’ is warm, sophisticated and smooth, oozing late-night funk vibes from its opening beat. Jorja Smith’s voice is stunning – props to Drake for featuring an unknown upcomer.
Drake’s midas touch means she won’t be unknown for much longer.
#6 Teenage Fever
It’s official: Drake is officially a master of smooth R&B-tinged house. This is Peak Drake, playing to his strengths, not trying too hard to be anything that he’s not. ‘Teenage Fever’ is yet another understated track, gliding beneath the radar with sensuality and smoothness pouring out from every layer.
It’s also the track that sparked a thousand headlines, given the slow, sultry J Lo sample. Sure, many were expecting a fresh feature, but can you really complain after hearing this track?