Drake released his new album “More Life” which many are settling for a positive opinion of it. I am here to tell you the opposite.
I have been a fan of Aubrey Graham since the early 2009. Before the mainstream collaborations and trap sound. I remember having to burn his early CD’s with Necklace Don and his work on “Comeback Season” which prompted everyone to go buy a peacoat. When he dropped “So Far Gone” I understood the impact he made on rap music. Drake is a special artist because he shifted the view on what a rap artist could do. He could give a 16-bar rap and include his singing voice to supplement the song and make it that much better. In the modern age, you have rappers like J. Cole and Wiz Khalifa pretending to be Curtis Mayfield with extra help from autotune. Drake didn’t need it. The man has improved his voice over the years and it is a true testament to how dedicated and talented he is.
Since 2009 he hasn’t been afraid of including his singing in his songs. He even has work where he solely sings to capture a certain depth. His songs like “Karaoke” and “Shut It Down” established him in the R&B category just as well as his deserved seat in rap music. No real Drake fan can argue that “Houstatlantavegas” didn’t separate him from the usual rappers we were used to in those days. His singing turned many off to a lot of his work, thinking he wasn’t “real” or “hard” like other rappers claimed to be. He proved rappers can have feelings, a weird concept to grasp. That was the original allure that drew loyal fans to him. Drake has a unique way of delivering a message about relationships and money that we are not accustomed to. He wasn’t shy to showcase his voice to amplify that message and I respected him for that. It just does not seem to be the case lately.
We can all agree that nothing can overcome an artist’s first album. They reveal their foundation, inspiration and feelings that later albums often lack. As they delve deeper into their careers sometimes they stray away from that original sound that got them their fame in the first place. Some artists explore themselves giving us albums that showcase their adaptation to time and circumstances. Gary Clark Jr., one of my favorite musicians, completely switched his original bluesy/ rock and roll sound on his first album to true rhythm and blues on “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim”. He proved that he could tackle more than one genre. Drake however, has decided to explore what seems popular and that highlights the issue many have with his latest drops. “Nothing Was The Same” was his last authentic album before he started relying on trap-esque beats that his producer, Noah Shebib, was supplying. Don’t get me wrong, he is a genius on every track he touches but he and Aubrey have wandered from their original productions. When I downloaded “More Life” it ironically gave me less. Maybe I have a bias towards English accents or perhaps every trap beat sounds the same to me, but either way it is easy to tell Drake is trying to keep up with the times and sounds, instead of exploring new ones.
Kendrick Lamar has done a brilliant job of this. Each album sounds different from the next in a positive way. His efforts of sticking to what works best for him and rarely conforming to what other rap artists are putting out is admirable and that is why he stands out from the others. Drake appears, at least to me, to be falling in with the crowd. “More Life” is no exception. When I asked a friend and fellow Drake fan, what happened to our hero with his latest album, she put it to me very simple. She told me, “the album sounds like a compilation of songs that didn’t make the cut for other albums” and he was simply dropping it knowing he has a huge fanbase that will enjoy it regardless. Not us, though. After “Take Care” I hold the man to higher standards. You used to be able to text a girl, very clever thought out Drake lyrics that applied to so many real-life situations and you just can’t do that with lyrics like “I don’t take naps”. He’s changed and I hope it isn’t for the worst.
Can he get back to songs like “Marvin’s Room” or “The Resistance”? I think he certainly has the capability to get better. He’s a superstar in the rap game and a trendsetter on the scene! Unfortunately, I think that aspect has worked against him in a way. Catering to what he thinks we want to hear and lacking that authentic sound every true Drake fan remembers but doesn’t hear in “More Life”. The album was mediocre; it wasn’t bad but also not very good. There were some songs where the feature artist was the only one on the track, come on.
Is “More Life” still going to be playing through my headphones and stereo? Sure. But I am not pleased about it. It’s likely I’ll delete it to make room for Kendrick’s new album but I haven’t taken “So Far Gone” out from my collection after so many years because it reminds me of his better days. If I had the opportunity to look Drake in the eyes, somewhere in the Canadian snow while “Take Care” softly plays in the background, I’d tell him to, “keep the music coming for the culture, fam, we don’t want your impact to fade.” But, for your sake, dig deeper, grab a bit more substance and stay out of petty rap beefs. Since that will never happen, we “bona fide” Drake fans can only pray for that return we are so longing for. So, Drizzy If You’re Reading This It’s (Not) Too Late