Drake & Future
What a Time to Be Alive
Cash Money/ Epic Records
Production: Metro Boomin, Southside, Boi-1da, Allen Ritter, Frank Dukes, Noel, Noah “40” Shebib
“Sh*t is purely for sport, I need a 30 for 30,” Drake claims on the closing track of What a Time to Be Alive. Both Future and Drake are at a point in their career where it seems like they are in fact just rapping for sport. They’re on a win streak that’s fueled by competition. The type of competition that left one rapper competing against 140 character Twitter tantrums while the other battled the pains of mixing a withering relationship with newfound success. The two hottest artists in the game linked up to release an 11-track, $10 “mixtape” in celebration of the W’s they’ve accumulated this year — particularly this summer. What A Time To Be Alive is the fifth full-length project Future has released this year and Drake’s second. The two have reached the stage in their career where they can virtually do no wrong in the eyes of their fans. There aren’t many rappers in the game that can silence ghostwriting accusations all summer only to namedrop their accused co-author on an opening track like Drizzy did on “Digital Dash”.
What a Time to Be Alive oozes the confidence and chemistry you’d expect from two artists who are at the top of their game. The only problem is that one of these artists is Future and the other is the 22-year-old super producer Metro Boomin, not Drizzy. Metro is responsible for a plethora of hits this year including the majority of the one’s on Future’s DS2 album. He recalculated his successful formula on What a Time To Be Alive to give both Drake and Future a chance to shine but Drake takes a few tracks to settle in.
Future and Metro pick up where they left off on DS2 leaving the 6 God waiting outside the party on the first three songs: “Digital Dash”, “Big Rings” and “Live from the Gutter”. “Digital Dash” is driven by a polished Metro Boomin/Southside beat that Future sounds more than comfortable on. The same goes for “Big Rings” before Drizzy leaps on Metro’s pulsating banger sounding a little out of his element, exuding the type of aggression you’d expect from one of his Somali hitmen. It’s the type of attitude that stems from successfully making a mockery of a street rapper from South Philly this summer. Future and Drake’s clashing styles are felt less on “Live from the Gutter”, giving Drizzy a chance to breathe on a beat co-produced by someone he’s more familiar with — Boi-1da.
Drake’s arrival to the ATLien-themed party doesn’t take long and once he shows up, it’s well worth the wait. The highlight of the project comes on the fourth track, “Diamonds Dancing” where Drizzy makes his presence felt in the most mellow yet impressive way possible. Future and him trade verses on a slow-cooking instrumental before Drake drops your heart into his bottomless pit of dejection on the outro. When Aubrey’s voice fades into the abyss as he croons “how can you live with yourself… ungrateful,” it’s clear that Drake and Future have found a middle ground that works for both of them. Their chemistry is at its peak on the late night ode to the strippers, “Plastic Bag” and the reflective “Scholarships”. We find the two of them in tune lyrically and sonically on “Scholarships” with Future claiming “For me to move on and succeed — jealousy, envy and greed/ too much of this shi*t, I don’t need it,” before Drizzy vulnerably starts his verse with “I need acknowledgment, if I got it then tell me I got it then.”
What a Time to Be Alive transitions into a well-rounded project once Drake shows up to the party. All he had to was “find his tempo” like he did on the Metro Boomin-produced dab anthem “Jumpman” which sounds like the album’s sole radio goldmine. Future’s versatility permeates throughout most of the record until we get to Drake’s aforementioned “30 for 30 freestyle” solo produced by OVO’s Noah “40” Shebib. The track is a 4-minute lyrical assault on all of those who might doubt Drake’s pen skills. The album is a snapshot of two artists at the top of their game. Future tackles songs like “Jersey” just as easily as “Scholarships”, showing just how far he’s come as an artist while Drake’s unmatched ear for melody on “Diamonds Dancing” and “Change Locations” serve as nice appetizers for his upcoming Views from the Six album. Although it fails to live up to the internet created hype, the album’s highs outweigh its lows making it an impressive body of work especially if it was made in just six days.