Review: Drake and Future collaborate on ‘What a Time to Be Alive’

By on September 22, 2015

By Matthew Shircliffe–

On one side there is Drake, who achieved both commercial and critical success for his sappy yet compelling album back in February, “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.” To add on to that, drama with Meek Mill that escalated over the summer, which curried in Drake’s favor, as he released two cutting-edge diss records that inevitably left Meek Mill helpless. Last but not least, his OVO label is thriving better than ever, making Drake quite possibly the hottest rapper in current 2015 hip-hop.

On the other side, there is Future who has stacked four quality projects since last October, starting with “Monster” that served as the trailblazer for his scorching last 11 months, leading into his follow-up tapes, “56 Nights and Beast Mode.” His most recent work came just barely two months ago, called “DS2” thus placing Future on the top-tier of current rap as well.

The two men have accumulated five projects, (and now six) in the last 11 months. Love them or hate them, it is undeniable that they are guiding a pathway for hip-hop in 2015. Now, after allegedly six days of recording, no real promotion and such short notice, they have released their collaborative “mixtape” disguised as an album, What a Time to Be Alive.  The album streamed live on Beats 1 Radio on Sunday, eventually making its way to iTunes.

It’s hard to say this project was a game-changer, but I’m not sure that’s what they were looking for here. Braggadocio rap and bravado rhymes are what WATTBA is at its core, and there is nothing wrong with that. Drake has steered clear of his R&B, pop-feel for this project, which might disappoint a few people who would rather have “Hold On, We’re Going Home Drake,” than “Worst Behavior” Drake.

Keeping it concise, WATTBA, consists of 11 tracks with nine of the songs being joint collaborations between the two, leaving two other songs as solo tracks for Drake and Future, which is possibly a blessing here as Drake’s “30 for 30 freestyle” (the outro), is the best track off of the album.

Obviously no features were deemed necessary here. However, the production speaks for itself, which includes trap producer Metro Boomin, who either produced or co-produced seven of the 11 tracks, Boi-1da, a frequent collaborator for Drake and Noah “40” Shebib, who comes straight from Drake’s entourage producing that “30 for 30 freestyle.”

Starting with the intro, “Digital Dash,” I was not feeling it. Although there were a few redeeming piano notes included in the beat, this was nothing special and not the best way they could have started off the project.

On the first notable track off the album, “Big Rings,” confidence is less than subtle here as Drake and Future rejoice in having it all, as Drake raps “Cause I got a really big team, And they need some really big rings, They need some really nice things, Better be comin’ with no strings, Better be comin’ with no strings, We need some really nice things, We need some really big rings.”

On slower cuts like “Live from the Gutter,” one of my favorites, has a noteworthy soft piano-feel, layered by Future’s storytelling rhymes from the bottom. “Straight up out the gutter, never had sh*t, Now we got 90210 on our address.”

“Diamonds Dancing” proves to be another high-point off the album ,as one of the more chilling and enthralling joints that gives us a more relaxed Drake that can please the R&B fan base and Future, who contributes more overwhelming vocals that just might work here.

Moving on to “Jumpman,” titled after the Jordan brand, is more boasting verses by the pair, as Drake has a pretty interesting verse, even shouting out Spurs’ guard Manu Ginobli. This will most likely play as one of the first singles, serving as a possible club hit.

On perhaps the most glorious cut off the album, “30 For 30 Freestyle,” Drake gets his solo-track here with a soothing piano as he delivers thought-provoking lyrics and incredible storytelling such as “Paternity testing for women that I never slept with, I’m legally obligated if they request it, So much legal action like I’m Michael Jackson” and “And I just came from dinner where I ate some well-done seared scallops that were to die for, But I got bigger fish to fry, I’m talking bigger shit than you and I, Kids’ll lose their lives, got me scared of losing mine, And if I hold my tongue about it, I get crucified.”

Even with WATTBA lasting a brief 41 minutes, it does have its share of space-fillers such as Future’s solo cut, “Jersey” and other collaborative songs such “Plastic Bag” and “I’m the Plug.” These songs border the fine line of average-at-best. These are the type of tracks that convince me this is a mix-tape even though it is still a blurry mystery among crowds to what What a Time To Be Alive actually is.

Overall “What a Time To Be Alive” is a celebratory project of the feats both Drake and Future have accomplished in the last year. Of course Drake and Future have contributed a plentiful amount of music that can be enjoyed for the year, but it was not enough for them as they punch in one more contribution for the year.

About Sam Draut

One Comment

  1. Juss Russ

    November 6, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Drake has really inspired a lot of people in Kentucky. He is always shouting out or showing love to the state of Kentucky. Which is why the new mixtape “What A Time To Be Alive In Kentucky,” has received praises and growing exposure on bitly.com/forthecity

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