22 tracks, 81 minutes, and loads of British talent
Canadian superstar Drake finally put out his “playlist”, ‘More Life’, over the weekend (March 18), and it’s an 81-minute beast of a thing with a surprising British influence. The project has been a long time coming – here’s the essentials:
1. It’s not really a playlist
It’s basically an album that happens to feature a load of musicians that Drake likes and wants to champion – but the collaborative creative process behind it is probably best understood via the word ‘playlist’.
Allow Nineteen85, the producer of some of Drake’s biggest hits (‘Hotline Bling’, ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’) to explain: “[Drake is] still having so many good ideas that he just wants to put out without making it a big ordeal. That’s why he’s trying to call it a playlist because he has a bunch of people in a space, hanging out… He’s so aware of what everybody else is doing musically that he likes to introduce new music and new artists to the rest of the world.”
2. It’s full of Brits
Drake’s love of all things British isn’t exactly news: back in October 2016 he remixed ‘Wanna Know’, a track by the 18-year-old south London rapper Dave, and a year before that he got a BBK tattoo to mark his appreciation of the London grime collective Boy Better Know.
It’s no surprise to see BBK’s Skepta on the tracklisting for ‘More Life’, nor is it shocking to see south London’s Sampha getting a feature – he’s made music with Drake before, and Drake sent Sampha a bottle of wine earlier this year to celebrate the release of his debut album ‘Process’. But there’s plenty more British talent here.
London grime MC Giggs makes not one but two appearances, which follow several support slots on Drake’s Boy Meets World tour. And West Midlander Jorja Smith appears on two tracks – she earned Drake’s attention with last year’s ‘Blue Lights’ and supported him at his recent Birmingham show, after which Drake made headlines by visiting her in her hometown of Walsall and unexpectedly popping up in the local Co-Op late at night, to buy some sweets.
3. There’s loads of British slang
Americans are confused:
Some of the slang is actually quite old
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But hey, it’s a good effort
4. Kanye and Drake have finally dropped their collab
In September 2016, Kanye West confirmed that he and Drake were working on a collaboration album, after a mysterious billboard sharing their logos sparked speculation. New track ‘Glow’, which features Kanye, is proof that the two biggest rappers in the world right now may actually doing it – and it’s possible we know their collab name from one of Kanye’s familiar lyrics: “The new Abu Dhabi”.
5. There’s Migos and flutes
Well, one of them is – Quavo. The trio are on fire at the moment: earlier this year, Atlanta creator Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) called Migos “The Beatles of this generation”. The Lawrenceville trio’s second studio album ‘Culture’ hit #1 in the US and Canada upon its release in January, and their single ‘Bad and Boujee’ was everywhere in 2016. They also recently appeared alongside Frank Ocean on Calvin Harris’ summer banger ‘Slide’.
Quavo’s appearance here on Drake’s ‘Portland’ is full of flutes and has sparked many a meme…
6. ‘More Life’ has gained Giggs loads of American listeners
The impact of the playlist’s spotlighting of British artists is easy to demonstrate: in the US, Giggs’ Spotify streams are up 146% thanks to his two features on the record. Skepta’s are up 21% and Jorja Smith’s by 12%. Spotify have explained that Sampha already has a large American fanbase, meaning his streaming stats haven’t changed so markedly.
7. The final line of the album will be bad news for Drake fans
In ‘Do Not Disturb’ he says he’s taking a prolonged break: “Taking summer off cause they tell me I need recovery / Maybe gettin’ back to my regular life will humble me / I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary.”