Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Drake’s refined material satisfies

Drake’s latest project, “More Life: A Playlist by October Firm”, is the artist at his most captivating.

Aubrey “Drake” Graham has always made music that’s difficult to grasp upon first listen. Each release since “So Far Gone” has worked, to varying degrees, because of his commitment to the aesthetic he’s adopted. Similarly to last year’s inescapable album “Views”, Drake has subverted rap fan’s expectations by creating world music.

The Toronto-born star has purposefully sequenced “More Life” so diversely that any three-song stretch of the “playlist” will cross at least three genres.

With this foolproof ploy to cross into a variety of sounds, Drake avoids ever having to grow. The Dancehall productions are wonderfully architected, and the raps are detailed and vivid, but it’s nothing longtime Drake listeners have not heard before. The lack of invention and reliance of already-perfected sounds would be wearisome if the quality in which he can master them was not up to par. In that case, Drake is not dissimilar to a superstore where you can purchase a variety of items that can moderately satisfy everyone.

The project’s lyrical standouts include the 2 Chainz and Young Thug assisted “Sacrifices” in which Drake trades boast with two Atlanta-natives over a sparse piano and muted drums. The Kanye West-aided “Glow” finds the two rappers venting about karma and fame over icy 808-drums before a warm sample from Earth, Wind & Fire washes over them.

“Portland” places Drake next to hit-makers Travi$ Scott and Migos member Quavo over an animated flute sample. “Do Not Disturb” keeps up with Drake’s best-bars-for-last tradition as he lays waste to naysayers and old foes before revealing he’s contemplating a hiatus from rap.

The more accessible songs on “More Life” are equally enjoyable retreads of similar ideas. “Passionfruit” and “Get It Together” rebuilds on a similar aesthetic built on “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling” On “Free Smoke” and “Nothings Into Somethings”, Drake expands upon the reflective rags-to-riches trope he’d perfected on “Take Care”.

Simply paralleling previous works could signify an artist hitting a creative wall. But not unlike his mentor, Kanye West, Drake proves a drive to refine himself can be compelling.

Email Taylor Richardson at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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