Oh man, oh man. It’s about that time so fire off some “bropopops”, “bang bang bang’s” and let’s get a couple chants to usher in this monumental review. Monumental, just as this damn project was. This really was an event. Sunday afternoon, Drake and Future had people feverishly anticipating the impending music as they couldn’t properly watch football because they had visions of diamonds blocking their view. That hype is was happens when two of the hottest names in rap confirm rumors that they did indeed make a project together. Individually, the two have had a very successful year thus far. Future released DS2 this summer to acclaim from fans and most critics and Drake released If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, that dominated the charts and technically wasn’t even an album. Future’s fanbase is a little more niche than Drake’s and it’s definitely not as grand but he’s still one of the strongest names in the genre at the moment.
What A Time To Be Alive really is the next big, tag team rap album following Watch The Throne but now these projects have two significant differences. Watch The Throne was a carefully planned, meticulously made album as this was a quickly created, skimpy project. Reportedly, the project was created and recorded in a meager six days and that’s no surprise to me. It’s clear to tell that the project was a quick one, especially based on most of these hooks. “I’m The Plug”, a track that falls closer to the end features a hook that recites, “really i’m the plug, really i’m the plug” in as droll and monotone a way autotune can produce. Or even deeper down we get “Jumpman”. “Jumpman, jumpman jumpman those boys up to something”. More interesting hook than the aforementioned one but again, it’s just basic. “Big Rings” follows that same Jumpman formula as Drake vocalizes a very repetitive hook, but this one jumps out at you. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, still not exactly anthem material but it’s a honorable attempt at it. Oh, and “Plastic Bags”, the same thing, I can’t count the number of times that hook “Get a plastic bag/ Go ahead and pick up all the cash/ You danced all night girl/ You deserve it” was uttered. But more than anything, what hooks like those really tell me is just how rushed this project was. Most artists trash thousands and thousands of songs in their career and if these were sessions for an album, I bet you most of these tracks wouldn’t have made the cut or at least maybe a couple of them would have gotten more attention and would have been built up more for potential album material. I have a faint feeling that there was a song they recorded during this process that Drake may have kept for his own album, and that would further push my point that this is not an album. It’s a quick treat for the fans.
Although, the whole project isn’t like that, there are some other songs that sound more fleshed out. One in particular is “Diamonds Dancing”. It’s a dense hook, with a nice melodic lead up and a real kick in the production once the hook comes in. But maybe more important is how well Drake and Future mesh on this song. Drake does very little singing on the project but this song he does some and it’s one of my favorite moments. Him and Future do some back and forth and trade bars at a couple stages, something rap duos should be doing. EPMD, Run The Jewels, Outkast and so on have a way of connecting their verses, sometimes in the fashion of bar for bar as Run The Jewels often does as the two emcees may switch after spitting one line. But even when that’s not present, there’s a connection of style and message. Future and Drake are two totally different artists but I don’t think their incapable of meshing and “Diamonds Dancing” is the prime example of how the two need to come together so that they can form a super-being such as Voltron. The rest of the project sounds like a Future album featuring Drake, as a lot of people have been saying and there’s a lot of validity to that. For one, basically the whole album was produced by Future’s producers, mainly Metro Boomin. And ultimately, Drake was just overshadowed here. Future’s brand of autotune crooning casts a big shadow and only when it’s done in more toned down form like on “Diamonds Dancing” do the two really share the spotlight. These songs would have all fit the mold of DS2, Future’s latest album, while practically none of these, aside from “Big Rings”, fit the sound of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake’s last album.
The consensus is that What A Time To Be Alive is a fun project. Drake’s music is fun, even when he’s crying on a song about a girl (“Marvin’s Room”) and Future’s is the same way but when he’s saying something, deep, serious and not about magic city strippers, it usually isn’t noticed, mostly because his words aren’t dictated well. If I were to take away one message, it’s that Drake and Future have, money to spend, money to give strippers, rings and that they’ve got a lot of money to count. You get the picture right? It’s another instance of rappers shoving their lifestyle and fortune in your face. You’re not famous, rich or any of these things that these guys are rapping about but the music is fun to listen, at least for now. There’s not too much replay value here other than a couple of really banging Metro Boomin beats so I really don’t see this getting much play from me in a couple of days. This album will last as long as it’s still fun and enjoyable and having to listen to it plenty for this review, that window is closing faster than the McDonald’s drive thru in the hood. Ultimately, I think Drake and Future are better kept solo. Their styles don’t flow together naturally. It takes a some high fructose corn syrup to get them to taste good together yet I’m left with only a couple pieces of tasty food but the rest is worse than tofu.
Worst songs: Scholarship, Plastic Bag, I’m The Plug