More Life is a stealthier, less-weighted project. Its release date was announced only a day in advance; it dropped on a Saturday night rather than the industry-standard music-delivery time of Friday morning; there aren’t physical copies. And rather than presenting itself as a comprehensive reckoning with Drake’s place in life and in his career, it’s framed as a sign of generosity, a bonus, another helping—“more chune for your head tops” Drake says in a sample that recurs throughout these songs like a radio-station bumper tag.
The focus here is on Drake as curator and kingpin, bringing together a diverse set of sounds from around the globe in tracks structured to deliver all-enveloping vibes rather than the suspense and release of pop hits. The producer Nineteen85 explained to Billboard that Drake has “so many good ideas that he just wants to put out without making it a big ordeal” and that he calls More Life a playlist “because he has a bunch of people in a space, hanging out…. He’s so aware of what everybody else is doing musically that he likes to introduce new music and new artists to the rest of the world.”
The ostensibly humbler ambitions of More Life allow Drake to pull some moves that might draw flack on another album. “Jorja Interlude” samples a song he released six years ago; “Get It Together” mostly just refurbishes a 2010 tune from the South African producer Black Coffee with new vocals. In some tracks, Drake barely appears at all. Observers know there’s nothing new about Drake’s self-referentiality or him swiping from music scenes less familiar to wide North American audiences—but here, the playlist conceit makes it so that the sharing of eclectic influences feels like the point. Already, the artists featured here have seen big boosts in their own streaming counts thanks to Drake listeners becoming intrigued by what they hear on More Life.
The format and somewhat muted promo also has the side effect of encouraging lowered expectations—which More Life can thrillingly clear. Critics and fans have been registering delight since Saturday, luxuriating in the glistening grooves of songs like “Passionfruit,” admiring the strong guest-starring turns like the ones from the rising UK singer Jorja Smith and from rap shapeshifter Young Thug, and picking apart Drake’s studiously crafted boasts on tracks like “Free Smoke” and “Can’t Have Everything.” The album is dense and bustling, but also laid back and chill-oriented—a balance that surely took a lot of work by Drake and his OVO team to pull off.
With 22 songs and an 81-minute runtime, More Life is just as voluminous as Views, and it’ll take time to sort through all the music—I’ll likely have a fuller review later on. But what’s already clear is that More Life is another savvy career move from a man who, along with Beyonce, is the era’s genius of redefining pop stardom. The lyrics throughout the tracklist make clear that Drake is preoccupied with the question of how to maintain the hot streak he’s enjoyed since 2009, and the final verse on More Life’s final song has Drake saying he’s going to take the summer off and will “be back in 2018 to give you the summary.” Until then, this leftfield yet satisfying release—however you classify it—should keep Drake in plenty of people’s playlists.