Album Rating: 6/10
When it comes to picking a battle, Drake has proved himself worthy enough to deflect shots and to unload an arsenal of his own. And with the sudden release in tension of the now iconic feud between Drake and Meek Mill and Drake, the fall season is ready to yield some fresh out the studio music for fans alike (from Drake that is).
Toronto's beloved rapper Drake never fails to surprise fans with a new taste of fresh and catchy beats with heavy and emotional content, and he even displayed his aggressive side with the more than catchy diss tracks “Charged Up” and “Back to Back,” both firing some heavy shots at Meek Mill, whom Drake claims to be “already dead.” Drake made it clear that a rap-feud wouldn’t hinder his motivation in the studio, and this time he went in with some help.
Atlanta rapper, Future, came together with Drake in the studio for a six day period, and the partnership yielded the album What a Time to be Alive. This certainly isn’t the first rap duo we’ve seen in recent years (Kayne and Jay Z) and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Future and Drake bring in a well produced, yet more than confusing confidence crisis in what is What a Time to Be Alive, and it certainly shows the internal hardships that both have and seem to be consistently dealing with. But more than often there is a hard to find underlying meaning with albums released by Future and Drake, and because of the surprise release that gave life to this album, it’s not such a surprise that it’s going to sound quite rushed and ultimately lost.
The album has an abrupt start with the messy, somewhat confusing “Digital Dash” that oddly places Drake on the sideline, while Future effortlessly sweats himself dry under the beaming spotlight. The album seems to be like this throughout a good portion of the album, but there is no denying the dark lyrical content that does bring some meaning to this project. So as the album advances, tracks like “Diamonds Dancing” and “Scholarships” begin to reveal the true dark, brutal mindset that the two rappers have little trouble relaying. “Diamonds Dancing” does indeed release a wave of confidence and success, but stumbles on the troubled ending that Drake provides over airy synth.
The middle of the album seems to be much darker and aggressive, but presents itself in a softer, and certainly effortless tone, which has been a common element with the Drake brand of music throughout the years.
The production style of the album peaks itself at the tracks “I’m the Plug” and “Change Locations,” which pound the speakers with faster flow, and a tighter mix of production. However, at this point, the auto-tune style that Future has associated himself with becomes a mask covering his true potential, and it doesn’t seem to work well with the drug problematic that he is trying to admit to. It becomes messy, but it’s only fair to credit his attempt to do more than just a trap-beat and spewing a few words about hustling, which I believe gives his identity a sense of maturity in the making.
The album begins to conclude with “Jersey,” a track that sounds displaced from If You're Reading This It's Too Late containing verses exclusively done by Future, probably his strongest moment on the album. The album then ends with the calm and whispery heartbeat of “30 for 30 Freestyle,” which allows Drake to give one final piece of mind in a more than impressive verse of well chosen lines and emotion. This track, I will argue, is the overall shadow that the album is casting, and perhaps this track is an explanation for the imbalance that is found within the first 10 tracks. And Drake knows this, and wants the audience to know it as well. It also gives us some useful insight that Drake knows he isn’t ready to give the world his best work yet, and that it’s a process that takes time and discovery, though not impossible.
This album certainly doesn’t amount to the spontaneous release of If You're Reading This It's Too Late. It’s at least aware of itself in the sense that it wasn’t meant to be the greatest of the greatest. It’s a good album to listen to in the background of our daily lives, and certainly provides beats that can charge the livelihood of a party, and perhaps the duo will unite again to hopefully redeem themselves with some better clarity, but as far as "What A Time tTo Be Alive" goes, the two young iconic rappers merely input the right talent and ideas with some choppy and unstable energy, creating a mixed and lost feeling that is this album.
Love the review? Want to listen for yourself? Buy the album on iTunes below!