After Drake announced the follow-up to 2016's chart-topping Views wouldn't be an album, but rather a "playlist," there was plenty of speculation as to his reasoning behind the categorization. Was it a move to give the artists on his OVO label, or others in his global orbit, more attention? A calculated way of acknowledging the importance streaming services place on curation today? Perhaps by treating it as a loose collection of songs, the Canadian rapper could avoid some of the lukewarm criticism leveled against his fourth studio record?
When More Life dropped Saturday night, the answer seemed to be all of the above, with the project having something for everybody. At 22 tracks, the release still feels overstuffed, but the format's casualness encourages fans to pick and choose their favourites. While the production is handled largely by a cabal of OVO regulars, including Noah "40" Shebib, Boi-1da, Murda Beatz, and Frank Dukes, the strongest tracks here are rooted in global dance music.
The rapper's relationship with Caribbean dancehall and UK grime has been well-documented, but there's also forays into South African house ("Get It Together") and lite disco ("Passionfruit"). From Canadian YouTubers 4YallEntertainment to Tomoya Ohtani's Sonic the Hedgehog theme song, here's our guide to every sample on More Life.
4Yall Entertainment, "T-Dot Goon Scrap DVD"
Sampled On: "Madiba Riddlim"
While the nimble, spiritually themed "Madiba Riddim"—co-produced by the triumvirate of Frank Dukes, Nineteen85, and Charlie Handsome—hews more closely to Afrobeat than any other genre, the parody video by popular Brampton, Ontario YouTubers 4YallEntertainment which closes the song couldn't have come from anywhere but Toronto. The clip is a 416-centred spoof of street fight compilations and significantly funnier than the time Drake and pals dressed up as Shoppers Drug Mart employees.
Black Coffee feat. Bucie, "Superman"
Sampled On: "Get It Together"
On Monday, New York City hip-hop radio personality Ebro tweeted his thoughtson the playlist, saying "Fuck it...Drake brining [sic] House Music back!!" While this proclamation might seem a little out-of-touch, songs like "Take Care" and "Controlla" show that the rapper's biggest hits come when he has one eye on the dancefloor and just a hint of melancholy in his heart.
This rework of South Africa DJ and producer Black Coffee's 2010 piano-house anthem "Superman"—British jazz-R&B singer-songwriter Jorja Smith replaces Bucie on vocals—is a natural successor to both those songs and wouldn't be totally out of place on a Now That's What I Call Ibiza Music! compilation. Drake doesn't even show up until the 1:21 mark, and he stays mostly out of the way, letting the beat do the heavy lifting.
Drake, "Doing It Wrong"
Sampled On: "Jorja Interlude"
It's a real Inception move to sample yourself, and he's hardly the first rapper to do so, but the Take Care deep cut's saxophone section fits this interlude nicely.
Earth, Wind & Fire, "Devotion"
Sampled On: "Glow"
One of the more curious inclusions on More Life, "Glow" sees Drake and Kanye West rekindling their on-again, off-again friendship and trading aspirational toasts over a sparse, metronomic beat. While it isn't the first time the latter has borrowed from the Chicago pioneers' deep discography, using Maurice White and company's 1974 hit as the outro lends the collaboration some soulful heft.
Read the rest of the guide over on Thump.