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More Life
Playlist by Drake
Released March 18, 2017
Recorded 2016–17
Length 81:41
Drake chronology
More Life
Singles from More Life
  1. "Free Smoke"
    Released: April 18, 2017[1]
  2. "Passionfruit"
    Released: May 28, 2017[1]

More Life (also known as More Life: A Playlist by October Firm) is the debut playlist by Canadian recording artist Drake. It was released on March 18, 2017, by OVO Sound, Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records and Republic Records. Work on the record began in 2016 and continued through early 2017. As executive producer, Drake curated a variety of new and long-time collaborators to work with on More Life. 40, Nineteen85, and Boi-1da handled most of the record's production, alongside Stwo, Nana Rogues, T-Minus, Frank Dukes, and Vinylz among others. PartyNextDoor, Kanye West, Sampha, Quavo, and 2 Chainz make return appearances on the playlist, alongside new collaborators Jorja Smith, Black Coffee, Young Thug, Travis Scott, Giggs and Skepta. More Life utilizes and connects various elements of black music, slang, and culture from across North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Unlike previous releases, Drake chose to place a large emphasis on the record's production and featured artists; often acting as a supporting vocalist or not appearing altogether.

Musically, it is a hip hop, dance, R&B, and pop record. Distinct from the standard structure of a studio album, the playlist functions as a collection of influences, moods, impressions and references. Noted for it's internationalist outlook, More Life contains an expansive, pan-global sound that combines various music styles from the black diaspora; mainly grime, Afrobeat, dancehall, trap, and house music. Thematically, the playlist revolves around self-reflection; with lyrics that discuss heartbreak, fatigue, envy, ambition, and redemption. Drake prominently addresses the anger, anxiety, and negativity he experienced during the creation of his fourth studio album, Views (2016). Compared to it's dark, aggressive, and confrontational predecessor, More Life eschews a more uplifting, optimistic, and hopeful tone. The record has been compared to Beyoncé's Lemonade (2016), West's The Life of Pablo (2016), and Drake's own Take Care (2011), due to it's expansive music pallet, introspective lyrical themes, and interpretation of modern black culture.

Upon release, More Life was universally acclaimed by contemporary music critics.


Promotion and release[edit]


"For a star who's voiced vexation over being framed solely as a hip-hop/rap artist, it makes sense that he'd deliver something like "More Life," as stylistically expansive as anything he's ever done. The playlist unfolds like an hour of Drake radio, overflowing with tracks that display not just his own genre-bending ambitions but also the voices of other, less globally visible trailblazers."
— Isaac Feldberg on the record's structure, Boston Globe[2]

As a playlist, More Life represents an aesthetic shift from the traditional structure of a studio album. Rather than having a shorter self-contained narrative revolving around a central theme or sound, the record functions as a collection of influences, moods, impressions and references. According to Jon Caramanica of the New York Times, the relaxed, circuitous format of the playlist enables Drake to "take in both his own work and also work by others".[3] Unlike previous releases, Drake chose to place much of the record's emphasis on it's production and collaborators, giving several artists their own songs. Journalist Emily Reily of Paste described this as a balance of giving "generous airtime to his supporters, stepping back when it’s called for and taking the reins when he should."[4]

"4422", written by Sampha and Francis Nguyen-Tran, is sung completely by the former. Although uncredited, "Skepta Interlude" is performed solely by Skepta, written by the rapper and Nana Rogues.[5] Although not a solo song, Kanye West handles the majority of the vocals for "Glow".[6] On other songs such as "Get It Together", a collaboration with South African DJ Black Coffee and British soul singer Jorja Smith, Drake relinquishes lead vocals to Smith, only appearing periodically to deliver the track's hook.[7][6] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times observed that even when working with frequent collaborators such as 2 Chainz on "Sacrifices", Drake is able to "cede the spotlight to his accomplices."[5] Vish Khanna echoed Wood's sentiment, saying that "Get It Together" and "Sacrifices" were really only "haunted" by the artist.[6] Writing for the Boston Globe, Isaac Feldberg observed that by taking a backseat to productions that channel a single geographic influence, More Life broadened Drake's sonic palette. Feldberg listed "Gyalchester" and "Passionfruit" as examples of this, noting their origins stemmed from Atlanta and the Caribbean, respectively.[2] The Independent writer Andy Gill expressed a similar sentiment, saying that at various points throughout "Passionfruit", the production dissolves into a "sink-hole lacunae of despair".[8]

Scott Glaysher of HipHopDX noted that by diverging from the standard album structure, it "strategically allows him to fire off unfiltered creativity without having to deal with the burdening pressures that come with labeling it an 'album'."[9] Vish Khanna of Now Toronto said that by labeling it as a playlist, Drake "pre-empts complaints about cohesion", going on to say the record "draws upon myriad styles, colloquialisms and traditions one likely doesn’t encounter while living on the Bridle Path."[6] Writing for Clash, Mike Wood described More Life as a response to the rapidly-growing "playlist culture" of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, calling it an "ode to the people and cultures that have influenced him".[10] Wood felt that by freeing himself from the preconceived notions of the album format, Drake was able to experiment with different sounds, artists, and producers; putting them at the forefront of the project.[10] Addressing the choice to classify the record as a playlist, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said: "When you get right down to it, Aubrey Graham is a playlist – a true pop visionary who's always a fan at heart, an omnivore with a raging appetite for his next favorite sound."[11]


Dialing back on his self-pity allows all his skills that have kept him on top to float back to the surface: his ear for melodies, his sophisticated tastes, his curation skills. The more voices he lets into the frame, the fuller and richer the results, and More Life bursts with energy and lush sounds—more guests, more genres, more producers, more life.
— Jayson Greene, Pitchfork[12]

Musically, More Life is a hip hop, dance, R&B, and pop record.[13][8] Abandoning traditional hip-hop and R&B influences, the playlist instead embraces the pan-global sounds of the black diaspora; mixing grime, Afrobeat, dancehall, trap, and house music across it's twenty-two tracks.[7][3][14][15] Building upon the success of "One Dance", the record features an expansive, global sound with an internationalist outlook,[11] resulting in a "sonic mosaic" that emulates Toronto's own cultural patchwork, according to Exclaim! writer Erin Lowers.[15] More Life recalls various musical stages throughout Drake's career, while simultaneously taking the listener on a "tour" of other styles and artists that he's curated.[3] Multiple critics have placed emphasis on the international and diasporic range of black music found throughout the record. In his review of More Life, New York Times writer Jon Caramanica said Drake has a "keen ear for how the internet has brought even closer black music from North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa."[3] Eddie Houghton of The Fader called the playlist's distinctive sound a "recalibrated" convergence of black music from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, mainly grime, dancehall, afrobeats, and trap&b.[16] Journalists noted that the heavy incorporation of Caribbean music into the playlist was foreshadowed by Drake's use of dancehall on Views (2016), specifically "One Dance", "Controlla", and "Too Good".[7]

More Life expands on the tropical music initially explored on his fourth album. "Passionfruit", "Get It Together", "Madiba Riddim", and "Blem" all make use of dancehall and Afrobeat.[17] However, Houghton explained that unlike classic dancehall, the variety used on More Life is strongly influenced by kwaito, house, and classic afropop.[16] This distinct sound, described as "warped-dancehall", incorporates high keys, claves, bongos and steel drums into it's composition.[9] South Africa in particular was singled out as a prominent source of influence for the cluster.[16]

UK and grime.

Themes and lyrics[edit]

Thematically, More Life revolves around reflections on envy and ambition.[8] Writing for Consequence of Sound, journalist Dan Weiss said that "Lose You" sees Drake "wrestling with his privilege is something to behold, wondering aloud why his struggle is worse than others, as an only child taking care of his mother, though doubly as a Canadian and a celebrity it's difficult to fathom how he even notices that the "bills double.""[13] Weiss said that "When he sings that he can’t tell who is his friend anymore and that he needs distance between himself and them on “Madiba Riddim”, it doesn’t even scan as paranoid. Pleading to be taught how to love again, it even sounds kind of sweet."[13]

Critics noted that a major theme of the album was redemption for Views. "More Life also feels like an apology for Views, an alienating and bloated record that had a good album hidden inside if you were willing to take a machete to it. At the end of this one’s sneering “Can’t Have Everything,” Drake plays an old voicemail from his mom, who says, “Hun, I’m concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days.” On the closer “Do Not Disturb,” he issues a full mea culpa, rapping, “I was an angry youth when I was writing Views / Saw a side of myself that I just never knew.” More Life has its fair share of tough talk and clever shots at enemies, but it’s an altogether more centered, approachable, and enjoyable album, embodied by its optimistic and hopeful title."[7]

Due to the wide range of black cultures More Life borrows from, discussions over cultural appropriation began to take place. Vish Khanna of NOW Toronto said that: "In lesser hands, all of this regional slang and cadence-hopping would seem like straight-up appropriation. But in a time where genres don't matter and the world's most popular rapper is from the notably multicultural melting pot that is Toronto, Drake, the actor-turned-rapper-who-sings-and-dances, is likely the only hyphenate who can pull off such a feat."[6]


"Free Smoke" is a trap song,[6] which opens with a distorted vocal sample by Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield of Australian neo soul group Haitus Kaiyote.[4] "No Long Talk", which features British rapper Giggs, is a grime song.[11][9][6] "Passionfruit" is a "sunny" vintage-sounding disco,[4][11] chillwave and house song,[13][3] sung in a "slinky boudoir croon" over a tropical dancehall and "synthetic" American-pop influenced beat.[8][6] Comparisons have been made to Drake's own "Hold On, We're Going Home", with journalist Jordan Sargent of Spin noting that grime producer Nana Rogues brought forth the "emotional resonance" of the song through it's subtle percussion.[7] "Jorja Interlude" is a "straightforward" hip hop track.[2]

"Get It Together" is a dancehall, deep house, and Afrobeat song sung primarily by Jorja Smith, and interpolates "Superman" by South African producer Black Coffee.[7][9] "Madiba Riddim" is an afropop song, built around an "easygoing" dancehall pulse and shreds of afropop guitars.[7][13][4] "Blem" is a light, "ghostly" re-imagining of dancehall,[13][10] and contains a sample of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long".[7] "4422" is a "moody" electro-soul track.[5]

"Gyalchester" is an "ominous", bass-heavy grime and Southern trap song.[4][10][9] "Skepta Interlude" is a grime song.[5] "Portland", a collaboration with Quavo and Travis Scott, is described as a muted, atmospheric trap song which uses a "shittyfluted recorder hook".[7][13][9] "Sacrifices" is a trap song that incorporates an elegant, understated piano line in it's composition.[4][9]

"Nothings Into Somethings". "Teenage Fever" blends influences of electro music with a sample of Jennifer Lopez's 1999 single "If You Had My Love".[11] "KMT" is a grime song which "rears such a menacing tone that it might find its way onto the next Saw soundtrack".[9] "Lose You" contains "Huerco S.-informed" synths.[13] "Can't Have Everything"

According to Sargent, "Glow", which features vocals from Kanye West, "peels away Kanye’s celebratory Graduation until it’s a just a strip of LED lights flickering in the dark."[7] "Since Way Back" is an R&B song. "Fake Love" is an R&B song.[8] "Ice Melts", which features Young Thug, combines reggae with country rap and funk music.[7] "Do Not Disturb"

Critical reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]


Spin writer Jordan Sargent said "On More Life, his new 22-track… whatever, Drake uses those three records as a launching point for a far superior follow-up that stands as the opus of the second phase of his career."[7]

"The divisiveness of Drake’s evolving discography stems from a question that may provide enough debate fodder for decades to come: Is he more omnivore or carnivore? Is he sampling the sounds of the world and returning to those that he likes best, or is he hunting prey and picking their bones clean? This question is complicated and speaks deeply to our times, hitting themes of appropriation, gentrification, and identity. It’s also a specific moral question within the strict context of the music industry, one which is impossible for outsiders to answer, though Drake has not yet been accused of pillaging by his collaborators or sample sources."[7] "Its closest recent antecedent is probably Drake’s own Take Care, itself a kaleidoscopic masterpiece that pulled horizontally and vertically from across music."[7] "Since Billboard tweaked its rules to include streaming, playlists are eligible to appear on the album chart, something that a handful of record labels have taken advantage of with compilations, but no major stand-alone artist has taken on as a creative challenge — Drake is the first. Having a blockbuster success with something other than a traditional album would encourage other artists to experiment with format. And codifying the playlist as a delivery mechanism for new music, not just for collecting other people’s songs, is a conceptual boon for streaming services, including Apple Music, with which Drake has had a longtime partnership."[3]

Track listing[edit]



Quick inline citations[edit]

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  1. ^ a b "Drake Free Smoke Passionfruit official singles". Hip Hop n More. Retrieved March 23, 2017. 
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