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Modern Living

REVIEW: Six degrees of Drake

ARMY OF ME - Gino De La Paz - The Philippine Star

True to his status as 2016’s most streamed artist, Drake has billed his latest passion project More Life as more of a playlist than a traditional album. True: At 22 tracks long, it has the spirit of an anything-goes mixtape, paying tribute to and building upon elements of dancehall, house, Atlanta trap, Afrobeat, UK grime and R&B.

The list of collaborators on More Life is as eclectic, but somehow they all come together to form a cohesive whole. While Drake’s latest release seems to have collected sounds and styles from superstars to relative unknowns, it’s fair to say that Drake has taken a fair bit of inspiration from British rap artists. (There’s an interlude featuring Skepta and another track with help from Giggs; Champagne Papi is a known Anglophile.) So who are some of the individuals that currently inhabit Drake’s universe?

 

Jennifer Lopez

Drake and the singer-actress first sparked romance rumors in December 2016 when they both posted the same cryptic Instagram photo of themselves in a tight embrace. It was obvious that the two were doing it for publicity and the more cynical observers assumed it was sneaky promotion for an upcoming project.

In February this year, during the 2017 Grammys, Lopez admitted on the red carpet that they did create a track. While J.Lo does appear on More Life, it’s not in the way many had thought. Her classic If You Had My Love is the primary sample on Teenage Fever. It’s not her vocals though, so will a real collaboration surface in the future? 

 

Kanye West

From actor to mixtape upstart, Drake then began his ascent as legitimate hiphop artist during Yeezy’s 808s & Heartbreak era in late 2008. While the two titans now appear to be allies, their friendship hasn’t always been as smooth or straightforward. “It’s a mix of admiration and competition, camaraderie and ego clashing,” writes Complex magazine.

West, who now appears on the track Glow, rapping ’Til me and being broke finally broke up, directed the basketball-themed video for “Best I Ever Had” in 2009 and produced Drake’s “Find Your Love” in 2010. In August 2016, a billboard surfaced in Los Angeles that read “Calabasas is the new Abu Dhabi,” refering to the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the city in Southern California where Kanye and Drake each own a home. Logos of both Ye’s G.O.O.D. Music and Drizzy’s OVO appear at the bottom of the billboard. Hint of an imminent joint project or a masterful troll job?

 

Sampha

Drake has worked with the South London singer-songwriter in the recent past, featuring him on “The Motion” and “Too Much,” both from 2013’s Nothing Was the Same. More Life’s “4422,” however, is a solo Sampha track that just happens to be part of a Drake album. Vulture notes that Sampha’s Process is one of the albums to stream if you love Drake’s latest. Showing back some love, the British vocalist turned the Canadian artist’s dancehall-infused song “Controlla,” from last year’s Views, into a stripped-down balled during an appearance on the BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge earlier this week.

 

OVO Sound

More Life premiered on OVO Sound Radio on Beats 1, a 24/7 music station owned and operated by Apple. Founded by Drake, Oliver El-Khatib and Noah Shebib in 2012, the Toronto-based Canadian record label OVO Sound used to be known as All Things Fresh before eventually becoming October’s Very Own.Acts in the label’s roster include, among others, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Majid Jordan and dvsn – pronounced division – a Canadian R&B duo that appears on More Life. Of course, Drake himself is perhaps OVO Sounds’ most prominent recording artist.

 

PARTYNEXTDOOR

PARTY, also known as Jahron Anthony Brathwraite, signed to OVO in 2013. The 23-year-old R&B vocalist figures significantly into Drake’s creative process and is featured on More Life’s “Since Way Back.”Like Drake, PARTYNEXTDOOR is an Ontario native. His mother is Jamaican and his father is Trinidadian. He wrote Rihanna’s hit single “Work” from 2016’s ANTI, and is part of Zayn’s new song “Still Got Time.

 

Majid Jordan

Though the Toronto house-R&B act does not feature on More Life, the duo — Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman — have long been considered Drake’s secret weapon. They backed Drake on a ballad they had written, “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard singles chart in 2013.

Like fellow Canadian the Weeknd when he was starting out – his profile grew after appearing on Drake’s Take Care in 2011 – Majid Jordan are as talented but still enigmatic. They are signed to OVO Sound.

DRAKE

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