By Maliik Obee
The idea of a collective work from the likes of Drake & Future is a big deal for the hip-hop world. Canada’s Drake currently has a stronghold on the rap industry; couple four platinum albums with a slew of Billboard hits, and you have one of the most consistent artists of the last decade. Atlanta artist Future has an impressive resume of his own since his introduction to the world in 2011. Ironically, his first radio hit “Tony Montana” featured an assist from Drake that propelled him into a household name. Future has several chart-topping hits and solid albums of his own, but his career has catapulted thus far in 2015.
After a very public breakup with R&B crooner Ciara, Future has released an onslaught of acclaimed music. He has released three mixtapes; Beastmode, Monster, and 56 Nights that have all managed to be downloaded over 1 million times each. The success of the mixtapes brought about an insurmountable amount of popularity, resulting in his new fan base: “#FutureHive”. He kept his buzz going by releasing the sequel to acclaimed 2011 mixtape Dirty Sprite, with DS2 this summer. The album debuted #1 on the Billboard charts and is looking to go Gold.
According to Drake, What a Time to Be Alive was birthed from a six-day studio session with Future. He attributes the speedy production of the 11-track project to attempting to match Future’s “work ethic”. Production is handled by Metro Boomin for the most part, but includes Southside, Noah “40” Shebib, and Boi 1da.
With two of the hottest artist’s in the game and some of the best production money, does the project live up to the hype?
For 40 minutes we are forced to sit through repetitive production coupled with the same topics of discussion. Money, hoes, cars, clothes, misogyny and street tales are all we get for 11 songs. Most of the songs have no concept at all, and come off as the two rambling. Both artists have had conflicts recently with artist Meek Mill, and they both take subliminal jabs throughout the mixtape. On the Metro Boomin produced trunk-rattler “Big Rings”, Future and Drake seem to send shots at Meek. Future spits “…you just a battle rapper, I’m an official trapper/N*ggas be dropping subliminals n*gga, that’s just some jibber jabber.” The tape instantly gets repetitive, and most tracks lack replay value.
With Metro Boomin handling majority of the production, the tape is one-dimensional. Songs like “I’m the Plug” and “Jersey” sound rushed. It seems more like a Future mixtape with 11 Drake features than a unified work. The great contrast of styles is apparent throughout lyrically.
Future’s topics of discussion are nothing out of the ordinary – drug use, his rags to riches story, and battling his inner demons. Future is known for his lewd misogynistic lyrics, whereas Drake is looked at as sensitive and empathetic of women.
The two do manage to get it right on several tracks, with the best arguably being the Metro Boomin produced “Jumpman”. Metro concocts an up-tempo heavy bass infused track that oozes radio appeal. Future and Drake float effortlessly on the track, creating a simple cadence that is sure to get the club going. Drake shines lyrically, with lines like “Mutombo with the b*tches, you keep getting rejected”.
Although most of the project is trap influenced, Drake closes out the tape with his “30 for 30 freestyle”. Producer “40” creates a soulful beat with a beautiful piano solo that Drake navigates effortlessly. Drake takes time to address everything that’s on his mind, from handling fame to social issues. Lines like “kids are losing lives, got me scared of losing mine; and if I hold my tongue about it I get crucified” hit hard.
The biggest problem with What A Time To Be Alive is that Drake conforms to Future’s style instead of working together to create something unique. Song content is one of Drake’s strongest assets, and it would have been nice to see him force Future to push himself. We are left with 11 uninspired tracks and production that all sounds the same. Sure songs like “Diamonds Dancing” and “ Digital Dash” will become hits in the strip club and on radio, but they are underwhelming. Even though the project was made in a little over a week, two artists at their peak can do better.
What a perfect time…to pass on this.