Is Drake & Future’s “What A Time To Be Alive” A Standalone Project or an Appetizer? (Review)

what a time to be alive

Christmas came early this year. Instead of waking up to gifts beneath a decorated tree we got something far better. At 8 PM on August 23rd, 2015, Drake and Future teamed up to release the mixtape that would come to rule all regions of the interwebs. It was passed all scores on the “litness” test and had fan around the worlding hitting the “dab” in joyous celebration.

For weeks there had been whispers that the OVO crew and FBG collective were in the process of crafting a new project to close out the summer. Based on the success of “Where Ya At” off of Dirty Sprite 2, it seemed like a no-brainer for the two artists to join forces once again in order to feed the streets.

Since the release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, we’ve seen Drake go platinum, have 14 tracks on the Billboard Top Ten List simultaneously, get accused of having his songs written for him, and critically harm the career of Meek Mill. Keep in mind, all of this has transpired while he’s been crafting his fourth studio album, Views From the 6. For many artists, this workload would be more than enough to keep busy, but like we’ve been consistently reminded, Drake isn’t most artists.

In the heat of the summer, Future and Drake spent two weeks together and created a project that truly embodied the summer vibes of 2015. Drake took a departure from Views From the 6, tried out some new flows, and had fun on the mic. Meanwhile, Future took on the role of the gracious host; creating the space for both artists to express themselves and simply have a good time- a feeling that has gone missing in much of the music of our time.

Musically, WATTBA is mainly keyed towards Future Hendrix’s sound. Executive Produced by Metro Boomin, this mixtape is 10 tracks full of turn up tunes, straight out of the heart and traps of Atlanta. The production has the all-too-important bounce that has always embodied music from the South, and uses that momentum to push the pace of the tape. Since the release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake has adapted a darker, more gothic sound for his music. This experimentation has led to a sound that blends the trap sound of the era, with the melodic verses that have vaunted Drake to iconic status.

For two weeks, Drake and Future hunkered down and hammered out WTTBA, and although it shows, this isn’t a bad thing. This isn’t a mixtape to be too heavily analyzed. It’s just two guys who are close to their artistic peaks, having a good time on the mic. With the exception of “30 for 30,” we see Drake adopting Future’s flow, fully immersing himself in the underbelly of Atlanta. It’s only right that Future took the reigns for majority of the tape.

At his point in his career, a nod from Drake can make a career. Artists such as Makonnen, Bryson Tiller, The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, and even The Migos have seen their careers launched into a different stratosphere after a cosign from the 6God. However, Drizzy’s collaboration with Future isn’t quite on the same plane. Unlike the aforementioned artists, Future is currently coming off of a #1 album, a trio of hit mixtapes, and the musical masterpiece known as “March Madness”. Before our very eyes, we’ve seen him transform from a talented songwriter/rapper to an internet sensation with Billboard Top Ten Accreditation. While this doesn’t make the two artists equals, it was interesting to see the two of them unite different fanbases and worlds within the rap universe.

As fun as WTTBA is, it only continues to drum up the anticipation for Views. While Drake has fully cemented himself as an artist in the running to be a hip-hop legend, many question whether he has earned the right to be listed with the greats of the genre. To his credit, Drake is the first rapper to really utilize the internet and social media to create his empire. Utilizing clever catchphrases that soon became marketable hashtags, releasing album artwork and titles on Twitter and Instagram, and eschewing the media in favor of social media to reach his fans has revolutionized not only rap, but music itself.

However, those contributions have not given him his “Thriller”, his “Purple Rain”, his “College Dropout”. In an interview that he gave to Rolling Stone before the release of Take Care, Drake spoke of wanting to be in the company of artists of the likes of Marvin Gaye, and to achieve that kind of musical genius simply requires more than what even Take Care or So Far Gone has achieved. To make music that could be mentioned alongside the likes of a Marvin Gaye or a Prince requires much more than the domination of rap, it requires a continual push of creativity in songwriting, production, sequencing, and madness.

On the last track of the mixtape, Drake fans get the track that they’ve been waiting for. Much like “5AM in New York City”, Drizzy uses the last track of the project to give his fans an update on his current state of mind. Here we get a look into the mind of a man who has the weight of his legacy resting on his shoulders. As the music spins the listener is transported into the world of Aubrey Graham. A man who’s clearly enjoying the fruits of his labor, but discovering that all of this success has only made him a bigger target from his peers, and is only distracting him from his chase for greatness. While WATTBA is a musical sabbatical, Views From the 6 is calling, and everyone’s waiting to listen.


Purchase ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ via iTunes.

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @BlacktrickEwing.