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The Rebirth of Drake: Rap’s Prodigal Son Returns With ‘More Life’

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By: Alex Marcheschi

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, “wow, I didn’t even think I looked like that”? Something tells me that happened to Drake right before he decided upon the vibe for ‘More Life’.

‘Views’ was pretty good, but it just didn’t feel like Drake. Don’t get me wrong, it was chock full of bangers, but something was off. Kind of like seeing D Wade in a Bulls jersey.

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When you hit play on ‘More Life’, a song called ‘Free Smoke’ begins playing and a pleasing voice showers you with these words:

Is it the strength of your feelings
Overthrowing your pain
Using you high to be reaching
And is it today that you will find your new release
And in your wake, ripple your sweet voice

Drake then hits us with “And more chune for your head tops. So watch how you speak on my name, you know?“, which is rap speak for “look, I’m about to give you guys a shit ton of good new music, so stop talking shit about me.”

The beat then drops and Drake immediately dips himself into the swimming pool that is his element.

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‘Free Smoke’ is about his rise to the top, which we’ve heard stories about for years now, but they never seem to get old. He harps on a theme that is extremely common in recent hip hop hits: how girls didn’t want him before he made it, but they want him now. At one point in the song he wishes he could move to Dubai so he could move away from all the negative, fake people in his life. It’s a good song, and we then transition into ‘No Long Talk’ featuring Giggs, a rapper from London.

In ‘No Long Talk’, we hear Drake rap in a new accent as he tries to mimic his British friend. It kind of works, kind of doesn’t work, but it’s interesting to say the least. It’s a forgettable song in the grand scheme of things. Next comes ‘Passionfruit’, which is a relaxing song that makes you want to start saying the word ‘ting’ like Drake always does. It’s the type of song you want to play after you have a few G&Ts on a hot summer’s eve, and it coming along after ‘No Long Talk’ illustrates how truly diverse Drake is.

‘Jorja Interlude’ is what first made me think Drake found himself again.

The boy raps this verse over a classic sounding 40 beat:

Tryna stay light on my toes
Just ran a light in a Rolls
Told me I’m lookin’ exhausted
You hit it right on the nose
I’m tired of all of these niggas
I’m tired of all of these hoes
Worried ’bout taking my lane
They ain’t even got on my road

They turn they back and they leave you
They gon’ be back when they need you
I practice good over evil
Flippin’ the script like a read-through
Yeah, all of my brothers, we equal
I play my part too like a sequel
You tell your niggas you got ’em on anything
Question is: do they believe you?
‘Specially when you never come through
So much hate inside your heart
We don’t even know what we done to you
We just know shit getting run through
Never chase it, let it come to you
You out here tellin’ everybody everything
You niggas move like the one-two, yeah

This sounds like Drake reacting to some fake friends that entered into his life, and some old friends who may have changed for unknown reasons. “They turn they back and they leave you, they gon’ be back when they need you, I practice good over evil” is pretty damn deep.

That song rolls right into ‘Get It Together’, which is basically this album’s version of ‘Find Your Love‘. It’s the type of song you don’t even think about hitting next on if it randomly came on during a shuffle. Not necessarily memorable, but very good. The artist Jorja, featured on both of these tracks, is also British and you begin to sense a UK theme on the album. This song also features Black Coffee, a DJ from South Africa who gave the track a weirdly mature Venga Boys sounding beat that somehow works.

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DJ Black Coffee

‘Madiba Riddim’ comes next, another song with a European vacation sounding beat. In the song, Drake continues the theme of finding his roots, saying things like, “God knows I’m trying”, “I’ve seen man turn fool for the money one too many times”, and “Devil’s working overtime.”

[Chorus]
I cannot tell who is my friend
I need distance between me and them

Gonna have to teach me how to love you again
God knows I’m trying
God knows I’m trying for you
God knows I’m trying

[Verse 1]
God knows it
Your mind impure, soul I possess, he knows it
Anointed and protected, I was chosen
My heart is way too frozen to get broken

[Pre-Chorus]
I seen man turn fool for the money one too many times
I seen some girls turn they back on they best friend from time
I heard you say things that you can’t take back girl, no time
I need you to go easy now and fix up one time

[Chorus]
I cannot tell who is my friend
I need distance between me and them
Gonna have to teach me how to love you again
God knows I’m trying
God knows I’m trying for you
God knows I’m trying

[Verse 2]
People change, I’m not surprised
Devil’s working overtime
Voodoo spells put on my life
It won’t work, they all have tried

[Pre-Chorus]
I seen man turn fool for the money one too many times
I seen some girls turn they back on they best friend from time
I heard you say things that you can’t take back girl, no time
I need you to go easy now and fix up one time

[Chorus]
I cannot tell who is my friend
I need distance between me and them
Gonna have to teach me how to love you again
God knows I’m trying
God knows I’m trying for you
God knows I’m trying

It’s a refreshing song that ends with an audio snippet of a man concerned with how his bills will get paid, then a much harder, ominous beat comes in and ‘Blem’ starts playing.

“Blem” seems to be a new word that Drake will attempt to introduce into the culture, and odds are he’ll be successful in doing so. Apparently being “blem” means being high, and the whole point of the song is how he’s high enough to be completely honest with no inhibitions.

It’s another classic Drake tune as he’s begging one of his exes not to settle down with a random normal dude. He calls this mystery girl’s boyfriend a “wasteman” in the song, which is something I can definitely get behind. He also shouts out his own personal whiskey brand, Virgina Black. The song ends with a brief message from Lil Wayne in his only appearance on the album. Wayne says, “Good morning, good afternoon, goodnight. I’m here to talk about More Life. One second…”

A song entitled ‘4422’ begins playing next and the only artist on the track is another British artist named “Sampha”. In this album, we see Drake adopt a Kanye-eque strategy of using his album to give other artists some shine. ‘4422’ is a layback song that is apparently about an IRS form you fill out when you want to discharge a property you own that’s under subject to tax lien. According to Rap Genius, they’re using this as a metaphor about the destruction of relationships. To be honest, this one confused me, but the next song begins the meat of the album, so strap in.

Drake was in his bag on ‘Gyalchester‘, as the kids say. In this song, he drops classic Drake one-liners like: “I don’t take naps, me and the money are way to attached to go and do that,” “they want me gone, outta the picture, bury me now and I’ll only get bigger” and “I keep hearing clicks when I talk on the iPhone, Feds in the city hate to see us on a high note.”

Classic Drizzy here, classic. The best line on the song hits you when the boy proclaims: “I know I said top 5, but I’m top 2 and I’m not 2.”

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The next song is another instance where Drake let’s a British artist get some exposure as Skepta goes on for 2:23. It’s ok, but not what Drake fans are looking for. However, you have to respect his willingness to let others benefit from his success.

The following song was probably the most anticipated song for everyone who saw the tracklist: ‘Portland’ featuring the feature king, Quavo, and Travis Scott.

The tune opens up with a flute playing, reminding us all of Future’s most recent banger, ‘Mask Off‘. And Drake opens up with a quintessential Drizzy line, “my side girl got a 5S with the screen cracked, still hit me back right away.” He flows for a little bit and then Quavo seamlessly slides his way on to the track.

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The leader of Migos hits the people with this hook:

Hell nah
Never let these niggas ride your wave
Nope, no way, nah
Never let these niggas ride your wave
Nope, no way, nah

Park the Benz just to the ride the Wraith
Skrrt, skrrt
Ten million dollars, gotta hide the safe
Skrrt, skrrt, oh

Michael Phelps with the swim moves
Skrrt, skrrt, oh
Michael Jordan with the tennis shoes
Skrrt, Skrrt

“Michael Jordan with the tennis shoes” is absolutely hilarious. Quavo rips off a verse and Travis Scott then comes in and eloquently says, “out in Portland, tryna get in her organs” as only he can. This will probably be the most played song on the album. We are now in the heart of Drake’s lineup. This is where he brings his runs in. Next up is ‘Sacrifices’ featuring 2 Chainz and Young Thug, and as we all know, Drake brings out the best in 2 Chainz.

The song starts with a soothing piano riff and Drake reflects on his 21st year of life. He hits us with a “I’m talking baby like Stunna, I’m talking baby like Face”, beautifully shouting out two of his role models. It’s a great Drake verse, casually cocky like all of his verses on songs with 2 Chainz are. Then dad comes in after a nice Drake hook:

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2 Chainz, I’m a real one
Few shows, that’s a mil run
When she bust it down
I said, “Thanks for givin’ to me,” like a pilgrim

Cold world’ll be chillin’
Earmuffs on the children, used to trap out the Hilton

Got wood on the Cartiers; that’s a face full of splinters
Count a bankroll for dinner, this the wrong place to enter
Phone sex for breakfast, all kinda women text us
Met her at the Super Bowl
Told her I stayed down the street from Texas

A-Town, I stay down, yeah, it’s all in the wrist
This one here out the fence
Trap jumpin’ like The Carter, we into jumpin’ like Vince
Moved on from the election
Introduced her to the plug
Can’t believe they tried to take the connection
Ooh, girl, you a blessin’, fine ass, be finessin’
Yeah, I love my fans
But I don’t wanna take pictures in the restroom
Drench God with the 6 God, point guard and the two guard
“Pretty Girls Like Trap Music,” so I woke up with my wood hard

The pilgrim line is A+++, and he also calls himself “Drench God” which is peak 2 Chainz. Drake is PEDs for 2 Chainz, something happens to him when they’re on the same track together, just like something happens to a little white lacrosse player when Tom Brady throws him the rock.

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In comes Young Thug, who may have fucked around and spit the best verse on the album. His flow is currently unmatched in the rap industry. It’s almost as if he actually took a verse serious for the first time in months. His best line is “I got my mink off a monkey, I’m talking monkey like Jumanji, all your diamonds partly sunny, I’m talking Sunny like Sunny Delight, my diamonds wet, it cost me money.”

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The next song is ‘Nothings Into Something’, another introspective Drake song about losing an ex to an engagement that awesomely uses motorcycle revving noises. This theme continues with ‘Teenage Fever’ coming up next and he uses a J-Lo sample as the hook, adding to the rumors that he’s dating the pop icon. These two songs are for the ladies.

The song ends with an audio clip from Giggs talking about how tired he is and another song featuring the British rapper starts thumping in the form of ‘KMT’. It’s the type of song you could blow out your car speakers to if you’re not careful. Drake proclaims “I dream about work in my sleep, ok, I got a lock on the streets.”

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Giggs then comes in, and to be honest, I tried to get into, but I couldn’t. On to the next, ‘Lose You’, which opens the door to the hardest combo of punches on the album. The next three songs solidify ‘More Life’ as Drake’s best album. Yes, I did say that.

The boy went in:

We got it, now we just gotta keep it
America’s most wanted, man I’m still on the run
All these number ones and we still not the ones

No hard feelings, but I’ll still get you spun
Went and got diplomas, and we still goin’ dumb
Please never label niggas who lay down for a living
My competition, it’s beyond offensive

I’m in it for the glory, not the honor mention
Not trying to be fourth and inches, I’m tryna go the distance
Yeah, distance, I’m on a different mission
This the remix to “Ignition”, hot and fresh out the kitchen
How you forget to fill up with gas on the road to riches?
Too overly ambitious, too late to fix it
Too late for condolences when it’s over with
I need to start sayin’ shit when I notice it
Be open with people I need some closure with
Be honest with myself and take ownership

Opinions started to burn when tables started to turn
I really used to feel like they loved a nigga at first
Exciting times, revitalized
Trust this little light of mine is gonna shine positively
I’m just takin’ what God will give me
Grateful like Jerry, Bob and Mickey
Better attitude, we’ll see where it gets me
I know catching flies with honey is still sticky

I wrote the book on world-class finesses
And tasteful gestures and makin’ efforts

And never placin’ second
And even better knowin’ you’re first but then takin’ second
Inspiring and never takin’ credit
I know I deserve more but just never said it
Two middle fingers as I make an exit
Yeah

That Grateful Dead reference in genius. He later drops a “people like you more when you’re working towards something, not when you have it” which is painfully true. He also goes on to say:

Then we wrote a book on calculated thinking and icy
Heineken drinking, and rival neighborhoods linking
And putting your trust into someone with the risk of financially sinkin’
All you did was write the book on garbage ass Rollies
Ego strokin’, picture postin’
Claiming that you’d do it for motivational purposes only
But you just had to show me

See I know cause I study you closely
I know when someone lyin’
I notice people standing for nothing and gettin’ tired

I know what we’re both thinking even when you’re quiet
Sometimes I just gotta make sure that I didn’t lose you

STOP THE FIGHT!!!! Drake haters are now buried, and that was just the lead-off batter. ‘Lose You’ takes its base and ‘Can’t Have Everything’ steps up to the plate.

This is a song that would have been played at the climax of that James Bond movie with Denzel that never happened.

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This song convinced me that ‘More Life’ is indeed the rebirth of Drake. The concept of the mere phrase “can’t have everything” is the exact opposite of the message expressed on ‘Views’. This is Drake realizing who he actually is. His third verse is his magnum opus:

Finally got my mind in a free state
Niggas tried to serve me up a cheesesteak
I gave them back a clean plate
Same niggas preeing cause they hate to see the team straight
Same niggas beaking always ducking my release date
That’s when the phone starts ringing like, β€œare we straight?β€œ
Two faced nigga back around with the three face damn

Oh, triple double, Russ face
Watch with the bust face
Never met the plug, but I rap about the plug face
Never met my self, I don’t remember who I was face
Y’all fucking hilarious
Y’all really think you niggas teamin’ up and scaring us
Y’all niggas is arrogant
Y’all sleep at the Sheraton
All that shit embarrassing

Tell your big homie I’m all for going there again
He ain’t even die and I ball with his inheritance
All that’s in my account at the Bank Of America
All that Drake hysteria
Six side, east side, all that for my area

RIP Meek, again. Also, that Russ line…damn. The most important part of the album comes at the end of this song in the form of a voicemail from Drake’s mom. She says:

You know hun, I’m a bit concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days
I can appreciate where your uncertainly stems from and you have reason to question your anxieties and how disillusioned you feel
As well as feeling skeptical about who you believe you can trust
But that attitude will just hold you back in this life
And you will continue to feel alienated
Give some thought to this because I’m confident in you
And I know you can reach your desired destination and accomplish your goals

Much more quickly without this confrontation I’m hearing in your tone these days
When others go low, we go high

And this is when we get the confirmation that Drake is done with the bullshit. This is when we realize that we are about to get the real Drake, at least for the foreseeable future. This sets the tone for our climb to the album’s peak, which is ‘Glow’ featuring none other than Kanye West.

This song immediately tells us that Drake is going to take his mother’s advice to heart. Kanye opens the track singing “watch out for me I’m about to glow.” It’s majestic, and it’s the first time we’ve heard from Kanye in a while.

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Kanye and Drake tag team the opening verse in extremely creative fashion, and you get the sense that they did it in one take, partly because Kanye asks the producer to turn up his voice in the middle of the song. Kanye references his old classics and tells the world that they’ll be bumping ‘More Life’ for the entire summer. He also references one of Drake’s classics by yelling “started from the bottom now we here.” Kanye then says:

Hope I deal with karma ‘fore my son do
‘Cause I be drivin’ round this bih with no sunroof

Man, the glow got me feelin’ like I’m gunproof

He’s the only person that could get away with saying “gunproof” instead of “bulletproof”, and that further cements his legend status. The ending of the song comes in the form a sample of Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Devotion‘, which was no doubt implemented by Kanye. The sample goes as follows:

Through devotion
Blessed are the children
We love y’all too!
We believe if there’s anything y’all wanna do in life
You need devotion
Can I hear right on? (screams)
Through devotion
Blessed are the children
We live for it
Clap your hands and see me
Come on, y’all
I said it’s alright
Clap your hands and see me
Come on, y’all

This gives both Kanye and Drake fans hope that they will each continue on a positive path, blessing us with good vibes for at least the next few years. Drake then dusts off PARTYNEXTDOOR and let’s him preach on ‘Since Way Back When’.

Drake’s friend drops an early “Thank God I’m Christian” as subdued noises from a hoity toity bar play in the background. It’s a song about “the come up”, as hip hop artists like to say. We have to wait about two minutes to hear from Drake, but he gets super into his feeling and drops a “everything these days is textual”, which is a great play on words about how he’s only been texting the person he cares about, not actually seeing her. The rest of the song is about how Drake loves Toronto, but is also frequently anxious to go back home. He then drops a “I’ve been out in Bel-Air like Will was.”

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‘Fake Love’ plays next, which would be considered a banger if he saved it for the release of the album, but it’s been out for months now. Thankfully, it was the only song he let out before the album dropped.

The album is capped off with two wonderful tunes, the first featuring Young Thug again, who either recorded his verses sober for the first time in months, or was somehow under a magic, Drizzy-induced spell. ‘Ice Melt’ is bangerang city.

It’s a fun song about how the people in their lives have become “icy” due to their level of success. ‘More Life’ is capped off by ‘Do Not Disturb’, a song in which Drake is the only rapper featured. One can’t help but think this song is a message to all his fake friends.

He’s on Do Not Disturb mode right now, so don’t even bother hitting him up. He drops a very heartfelt, “I do not want to have to go to funerals, I gotta start sleeping at the studio” which sounds like a very clear indication that he is done pretending to be the hardcore rapper that he isn’t.

Later on in the song, we get the most important line on the album. It’s something we rarely hear from superstar artists, something that we haven’t really heard since Eminem admitted that “Relapse” was just “ehhh” on ‘Not Afraid‘. Here’s what Aubrey had to say:

I was an angry yout’ when I was writing Views
Saw a side of myself that I never knew

Probably self-destruct if I ever lose but I never do
Steady doing double shifts

And there it is, an admission of straying away from himself. ‘Views’ was good, but it wasn’t the real Drake. ‘More Life’ is. Rap’s prodigal son has returned, slaughter the fattened calf. The boy is back and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

 

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