Go outside. Take a deep breath. Come back. Sit down. Continue reading this review and marvel at the wonderful age of hip hop we live in. An age where a former child actor from Toronto and an auto-tuned lean addict from Atlanta can come together to create something truly incredible.
What a Time to Be Alive indeed.
After weeks of mounting hype that only escalated when a fake countdown site was put online in anticipation of the long-rumoured Drake and Future collaborative project, the album finally hit the Internet like an earthquake on September 20 and sent shock waves throughout the entire digital realm.
People listened. Some loved it, some called it disappointing. Some said it sounded like a Future mixtape with Drake playing a supporting role. Some wanted more passion out of Future and applauded Drake’s energy. Some wanted to compare the project to Kanye and Jay’s 2011 Watch the Throne album. There were more opinions than kids at a Toronto public high school calling their city “the 6.”
After spending some time with the album (or mixtape, whatever you wanna call it) and cycling through track after track multiple times, I can say I’m neither blown away or the least bit disappointed by the outcome.
What a Time to Be Alive is clearly a labour of love. It would have never made it to Apple Music otherwise. This project is the result of the two hottest hip hop artists in the game right now hitting the studio and just doing what they do best — laying down bangers that people have already memorized and internalized.
Stripped down simplicity on the hook of a song like “Big Rings” where 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.”
Reading the words on a piece of paper might make you question Drake’s education level but there’s just something so compelling and convincing about his delivery over the Metro Boomin beat that you can’t do anything besides nod your head as the song slowly seeps into your grey matter.
And really, that’s at the very core of this project.
No one is blasting Drake and Future in hopes of catching on to the lyrical subtleties of microphone poets from Atlanta and Toronto. People listen because these are artists that bring catchy hooks and songs you can bump in your car or condo on any occasion.
If you’re looking for Future to rap about socioeconomic issues in Kirkwood, you’re out of luck. If you want Drake to rap about being around shooters in Forrest Hill, it didn’t happen. You can’t listen to What a Time to Be Alive if you thought the time to be alive was 1995 when Pac and Biggie were still here. It’s senseless to compare the Futures and Drakes of hip hop to a time when hip hop was at a different point in its development.
Let me breath again.
The point is, no matter how much you want to hate Drake and Future, this project is a success and the hits will continue to materialize. You know how many times I’ve already chanted “Jumpman” around the house or repeated the phrase “Diamonds Dancing” while I did laundry?
I’m also not saying I represent the hip hop fans of 2015 either but in some ways, I kinda do. I can appreciate the lyrical mastery of a Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole then listen to Fetty Wap and Young Thug when I’m driving through the city. This offering from Drake and Future makes me feel some type of way that not every hip hop album can and that should be worth something in the grand scheme of things.
Maybe we should read the words What a Time to Be Alive and simply be thankful that we as consumers of hip hop have choices again. It’s not just Bad Boy season or just the Crunk era, there’s a slew of great artists that fans can choose from and Drake and Future are two of the absolute best in my mind.
Get at me on Twitter @PatCwiklinski.