The significance of ‘More Life’ is far greater than it appears. It is easy to forget that we are in a different time and era from ‘So Far Gone’ Drake’s break through mixtape. Since then everything has changed due to the evolution of technology and creativity.
‘They never thought Hip Hop would make it this far’, but it did. And we always wanted it to. Just when you think everything has been said or told in a certain style, the parameters of creativity will reset, new primers and originators will emerge to invoke new rules. The art-form is to be pushed, it is to be strained in order to rejuvenate, sustain, and progress. Drake is a living, breathing example of one of these primers within Hip Hop.
We expect great music from Drake. We expect hard street records, club bangers that will rock crowds for the next 12 months or until he drops the next project. We expect him to come with records that will be played by radio stations that don’t want to play rap music because that is what he has consistently given us since 2009.
“This is something after ‘Views’ I was just inspired, I wanted to keep the music flowing, I wanna keep people excited, I wanna perform this summer.” Drake
It shouldn’t be a surprise that ‘More Life’ is dope as it is what we expect from Drake, and we almost take it for granted. For me, this is ‘So Far Gone’ for 2017; a collection of diverse tracks that do different things for different audiences.
8 years later and moving with the times, instead of dropping a folder as a blog premier we shared the first listen as a global community via his radio show. Instead of dropping a mixtape, Drake dropped a playlist that emulates the forward thinking approach of OVO Sound radio and embraced a more eclectic international vibe.
‘More Life’ features UK producer Nana Rogues and four very dope diverse UK artists; Sampha, Jorja Smith, Skepta, and Giggs. The UK influences sound and fashion. On ‘More Life’ Drake went straight to the source.
Drake’s rap privilege of being co-signed by Lil Wayne opened the door to the rap game, but it is Drake’s own artistic merit that has secured his undebatable position at the top of the top 5. Even though he’s also at the top of the r&b game, and arguably the pop game too, it is his position at the top of the rap game which is the most important. This is the hardest position to attain because it cannot be bought or campaigned for. It is hard to earn, it is judged according to artistic merit, success, the ability to move the crowd, and respect.
Drake is respected. He has earnt his crown. He started at the bottom and very quickly accelerated to the top. He is rated by all demographics, all audiences, and managed to secure a position that Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas has each held for several individual terms.
Hip Hop is a culture that is 40 years old, several generations deep, and this generation has determined that for the first time ever within Hip Hop history that a non-American would run the rap game.
It’s common knowledge that Drake isn’t from the US, that he is very different to US rappers. Even though Canada is on the border of the US, Drake is an “overseas nigga” (a term US listeners used to refer to Dizzee Rascal in 03). Drake is essentially a rap immigrant, he crossed the US border and is taking all the work, all the money, all the women.
Despite previous isolated collaborations, it was always going to take a non-US rapper to get to the top of the game, to really put on other non-US rappers. To make a commitment and have English accents on their projects several times over at the height of their fame.
Drake has previously shown unprecedented support for UK MCs; performing with Skepta at Wireless Festival, then bringing Skepta out at OVO fest, paying homage to C-Biz’s flow on ‘Grammy’, and remixing ‘Wanna Know’ by Dave. But it is the individual collaborations with Skepta, and Giggs on ‘More Life’ that make up the actual evolutionary process of crossing cultures.
No other US rapper has shown as much love to the UK scene. No other US rapper has taken the time out to research the history, to decode the slang, to use the slang, and to embrace the flows. It is how you get a nation of millions to embrace you as their own.
Hip Hop was made in America and invaded homes around the world, several generations later there is a bigger, fresher generation of kids around the world that have been raised on Hip Hop. They live their own experience, have their own stories to tell, and they are determined to eventually return the favour back to the US. ‘More Life’ inspires and empowers all of this.
“Giggs is somebody I support and again he’s somebody I feel should be one of the biggest rappers as big as he can possibly get. So I’m gonna do everything that I can to try and make that happen.” Drake
On the debut shared listening experience of ‘More Life’ we witnessed the confusion of Drake fans who didn’t know who Giggs is, but that was inevitable as this is new territory for everyone. Take note that this is also the turning point, the moment when the Drake effect kicks in.
Drake has since introduced Giggs to a bigger global audience. Within a month those same confused Drake fans will be reciting ‘KMT’ and ‘No Long Talk’. Within 3 months they will have ‘Whippin Excursion’ on their playlists, within a year they will be appropriating his slang. More life, more culture, more fans, it is what Drake does.
Listen to ‘More Talk’ the full interview with Drake and Semtex here.