Drake, the prolific hip-hop star who was last year’s top-selling artist, has returned with a song collection in which he ventures further into dance hall rhythms and taps fellow big names.
The Toronto rapper, who has long challenged industry definitions, on Saturday dropped More Life and called it not an album or a mixtape but his first playlist.
More Life is anchored by Fake Love, Drake’s infectious hit about the phoniness of those around him. He released the song late last year but it did not appear on his blockbuster album Views.
The track is built off a stripped-down beat reminiscent of dance hall, the energetic popular music of Jamaica. He goes more heavily into dance hall on Madiba Riddim, which alludes to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and has echoes of Drake’s mega-hit with Rihanna Too Good.
Drake, who says he resents being labelled simply as a rapper, goes into full-fledged pop on tracks such as Teenage Fever, a love song that is partially a cover of Jennifer Lopez’s If You Had My Love.
But Drake also collaborates on More Life with leading rappers including Skepta, Young Thug, Travis Scott and, in one of his first appearances since making headlines with a mental breakdown in November, Kanye West.
On Glow, West appears to refer to his recent erratic behaviour, which included accusing other stars of trying to kill him and praising US President Donald Trump.
West pins his actions on fame, singing: “Man, the glow got me feeling like I’m gunproof.”
Drake gives space to the British singer Sampha on 4422, an R&B ballad of separation that takes as its imagery the US tax form used to cut off connections to an estate.
Drake was the top-selling global artist of 2016, according to the IFPI industry body. His popularity is especially strong on streaming services, with his One Dance the only track to have been played more than one billion times on Spotify.
Drake — who has repeatedly found success with works he defined as playlists — has described More Life as a loose collection of tracks to bridge the gap between major releases.
In a short introduction on Apple Music, the 30-year-old wrote: “They say that we could live forever / At night I pray it’s true / I’ve done so much in my short time / And still there’s more to do.”