At 22 songs and interludes, the first thing to recognize about this incredible work from Drake is its playlist identity and the forward-thinking concept of that approach.
More Life, A Playlist By October Firm—Drake’s first release since his fourth studio album VIEWS in April of last year—is built to break the mold.
And this playlist will potentially break not just streaming records but entire constructs, since this artist’s work also leads by example in suggesting the 12-song experience is perhaps not as relevant in the new streaming era.
Think outside the box: What is an album anymore, exactly? And what is a mixtape? Drake has consistently pioneered adaptations of the (really) long-play and long-tail environment that unlimited streaming provides, becoming a force for how popular music is consumed in the process.
The pace and number of his music releases alone is trend-setting.
“More Life”—a Jamaican slang expression used to convey well-wishing—is a collection of mood and style that wanders through a vibe, as Drizzy curates our spring/summertime groove companion piece. It’s also interesting to note how he used the umbrella of the “October Firm,” the presenting collective, in a nod that identifies the entire band of creatives who delivered the story, both in front of the mic and in back of the beat, which had the all-star team of 40, T-Minus, Boi1nda, Frank Dukes, Nineteen85, Stwo, iBeatz, Viynlz and more under the hood of these songs.
The approach is not unlike how Prince operated in the ’80s with the various incarnations of The Revolution and later, The New Power Generation; The Artist always had a community of killer musicians contributing to his work, and melted their cultures together into one unique experience with each album project—full manifestations that extended into everything including video and live performance.
On More Life the most amazing spotlights belong mostly to the U.K., from the poetic and heartbreakingly soulful voices of Sampha and Jorja Smith to a grime infusion through the lens of its most badass practitioners, Skepta and Giggs.
On this playlist, there is a distinctly global vibe channeled through Drizzy’s various influences, which range from hip-hop to grime to soul, R&B and deep house music. His masterful assembly/curation of guests collects the best black music talent the world has to offer right now, from—among other corners of the globe—Jamaica, South Africa, Toronto, and the U.K. As he did for his Canadian mate Abel Tesfaye years ago, he consistently lights a torch for truly great new talent through the co-sign.
On More Life those amazing spotlights belong mostly to the U.K., from the poetic and heartbreakingly soulful voices of Sampha and Jorja Smith to a grime infusion through the lens of its most badass practitioners, Skepta and Giggs. Drizzy’s proven “One Dance” formula of saucy dancehall island flavas can be heard on tracks like “Passionfruit,” “ Blem” and “Madiba Riddim,” while that crazy-cool flip of South African producer/DJ Black Coffee’s soulful house-music jam “Superman” on the track “Get it Together” is masterful. Every feature counts, effectively leading a wide swath of mainstream pop music fans to these brilliant new styles of music.
Drake has been setting new popular standards for how music is released and presented for years now, and More Life advances that futuristic agenda. Since streaming has made music a more global experience—crystallized by the switch from Tuesday to Friday as Global Release Day—Drake, in delivering this work as a “playlist,” is doing something distinctly cutting-edge, yet again.
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