When is a 22-track album not technically an album? When it comes from one of the biggest rappers on the scene right now. Drake calls his latest effort, More Life, a “playlist,” and he’s said that it’s just a (rather large) cache of tracks to hold fans over until his next official release.
Said fans don’t seem to care whether it’s an official album or not. They’re gobbling the digital release up (a physical album may come later) at a record pace. In the first 24 hours of release, tracks from More Life were streamed a whopping 89.9 million times on Apple Music and 61.3 million times on Spotify, both records for those streaming services. (And that doesn’t even count the 250,000 folks who actually purchased the “playlist” online).
So what did fans binging on those 151 million tracks find here? In short, it’s vintage Drake: low-key and melancholy reflections on broken romances mingled with world-weary complaints about the stress of being arguably the most popular rapper in the world.
Drake has no shortage of ego. But he’s also quick to point out that his success has been hard-earned, as several songs note his seemingly tireless work ethic, including “Free Smoke,” “Sacrifices,” “KMT,” “Do Not Disturb” and “Can’t Have Everything.” The latter song also shows the artist trying (though mostly unsuccessfully) to move toward contentment instead of constantly seeking more.
“Passionfruit” includes some self-aware moments. Drake sings, “Cleansin’ my soul of addiction now,” and he wisely realizes, “Listen, hard at buildin’ trust from a distance.” He also suggests tabling a romantic commitment until the two people involved are in a better place. “Do Not Disturb” finds Drake resenting those who pry into his personal life, admitting that his anger is at times counterproductive and recognizing the danger of drifting off course in life (“Distractions will do you in, in the truest sense”).
“Jorja Interlude” finds Drake claiming, “I practice good over evil.” And guest Jorja Smith sings, “These things’ll fall down/But you’ll pick ’em up again.” She appears again on “Get It Together,” voicing these honest relationship desires: “I need someone to hold me/I need someone who needs me/I need someone that loves me.” Later she adds, “You know, we don’t have to be dramatic/Just romantic/Do all the little things, little things, little things/ … Give me a kiss goodnight.”
“Madiba Riddim” expresses Drake’s frustration about discerning whose friendship is genuine and whose cloaks hidden motives (“I cannot tell who is my friend/ … God knows I’m trying”). Drake also notes spiritual resistance to his success (“Devil’s working overtime”). “Fake Love” revisits the theme of people who want to take advantage of Drake even as they pretend friendship.
“Blem” uses that abbreviated version of “blemish” to honestly confess Drake’s perception of his flaws: “I’m blem for real.” On “Teenage Fever,” guest Jennifer Lopez wonders, “If you had my love/And I gave you all my trust/Would you comfort me?”
Guest contributor Sampha admits on “4422,” “I know I fear trust/I know I fear fear to much/On my plate, lookin’ up/Out space, pearly gates.” Earth, Wind and Fire sings, “Blessed are the children” on “Glow.” And rapper PARTYNEXTDOOR exclaims “Thank God I’m a Christian” on “Since Way Back.”
On “Free Smoke,” Drake suggests that he’d rather see his haters dead (“I get more satisfaction outta goin’ at your head/And seein’ all of you die”) and warns, “So watch how you speak on my name, you know?” That arrogant attitude (which seems perilously close to God warning people not to take His name in vain) permeates much of More Life. Harsh profanity does as well, for that matter, with many tracks containing f-words (sometimes paired with “mother”), s-words and other profanities. “Teenage Fever” includes one misuse of Jesus’ name. “Can’t Have Everything” pairs God’s name with “d–n.”
Elsewhere on “Teenage Fever,” Drake confesses to waking up inebriated and firing off a message to a famous former flame (“I start my day slow/Silk pajamas when I wake, though/ … I drunk text J-Lo”). The song references cocaine use as well (“Y’all keep playing with your nose, yeah/You get high and do the most”).
“No Long Talk” threatens gun violence, while guest rapper Giggs repeatedly uses some of the foulest, crudest language imaginable to objectify a woman’s anatomy before having sex with her. “Gyalchester” rudely references a woman who wants to have intercourse with Drake in his Maybach luxury car. (We also get a wink at marijuana use, too.) 2 Chainz’s contribution to “Sacrifices” includes a slang euphemism for an erection. “Teenage Fever” alludes to a man seeking sex with someone after a bad breakup. “KMT” finds rapper Giggs leering at a woman’s chest. “Since Way Back” and “Ice Melts” also imply physical relationships.
“Jorja Interlude” vents Drake’s weariness at his competitors: “I’m tired of all this n-ggas/I’m tired of all these hoes/Worried ’bout takin’ my lane/They ain’t even got a road.” On “Blem,” he wonders why he can’t break up with a woman but “stay friends”; perhaps it’s because he then tells her that “you crazy sometimes,” or because he arrogantly refuses to listen to anyone: “I know how I wanna live my life/I don’t need no advice/You’re not here and we both know why.”
On “Portland,” guest Skepta brags, “I’m a f—in’ villain/ … I say it how it is, and no f—s are given.” Similarly bravado-drenched swagger comes from another contributor, Quavo, who instructs, “Never let these n-ggas ride your wave/ … Never listen to the class rules” and brags, “I’m a magnet for bad b–ches.” Meanwhile, Drake says that he dropped $150K on a party.” We also hear references to the alcoholic beverages Hennessy and Grey Goose. “Nothings Into Somethings” also seems to allude to an intoxicating drink (“Big cup of Ac’, I’m drowsy”).
Kanye West references the concept of karma on “Glow.”
On the song “Lose You,” Drake says, “This little light of mine is gonna shine positively/I’m just takin’ what God will give me.” There are actually quite a few positive moments on More Life. But the shadowy stuff of so many other songs here makes that small flickering candle a difficult one to discern most of the time here.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.