Its been over a week since Drake and Future blessed the world with their collaborative effort What A Time To Be Alive. The mixtape was officially announced on Drake’s Instagram, when he uploaded the release date and album cover. Prior, news of the mixtape came via hints all over social media in the week before its release, with a website consisting of an incorrectly timed countdown finding heavy traffic the Friday before its debut on the sixth episode of Drake’s OVO Sound Radio show on September 20.
The 11 track project features heavy production from frequent-Future-collaborator, Metro Boomin, along with additional production from Boi-1da, Southside, Noël, and Noah “40” Shebib. WATTBA debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, making it Drake and Future’s second albums to chart at number one on the Billboard 200 in 2015 (following If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and DS2).
Two of hip hop’s MVPs this past year, Graham and Wilburn have had palpable chemistry, as previously determined by their earlier collaborations: “Where Ya At“, “Never Satisfied”, and “Tony Montana“. Despite this, the project feels like a Future mixtape featuring Drake more than a collaborative effort. Of course, there are moments when Drake is able to shine (“30 For 30 Freestyle”), and the two pair together perfectly on fan favorite “Diamonds Dancing”, as well as on “Change Locations”. Additionally, Drake lobs Future an amazing alley oop on “Scholarship”, and Future Hendrix keeps it trap on tracks like “Live From The Gutter” and “I’m The Plug”. “Big Rings” is an anthemic banger and is surprisingly more Drake-heavy than anything else on the mixtape, although the widespread reaction to braggadocious song has been mixed.
However, Drake did state that he spent six days in Atlanta working with Future and his team, which clues into the notion that Future could have possibly had unfinished versions of several of the tracks just sitting around, as the project feels as though Drake went through the ATLien’s hard drives and picked out a few songs for him to snap on. Moreover, Drizzy usually takes time on his music, and I doubt a week was enough time for him to channel the trademark Drake sound.
Although chemistry is not one of the stronger points, the two heavyweights stay true to their subject matter, with Future giving his trap testimony about the downward spiral he’s taken since his split from “singer” Ciara, while self medicating with his few substances of choice. 6 God pens his usual stripper sonnets (“Plastic Bag”), at the same time shouting out his (alleged) girlfriend Serena Williams. Both rappers send a few shots at a certain boyfriend of Nicki Minaj, although they kept them few and far between, because at this point, any further disses are bullying. (We must also note that Sauce Walka and Meek Mill have been seen in the studio together, we’ll keep you posted on that)
All in all, What A Time To Be Alive is a perfect example of the current stage of hip hop, as it is composed of the perfect blend of trap music and poignant lyricism. Literally all the mixtape was missing was a hook from Chris Brown, and a “1738” from Fetty Wap, and we would have had a snapshot of the top hip hop songs in the country. Drake and Future — while the chemistry is questionable — have enough content to make this joint venture a success, even without any of their usual features. It must be recognized that Drake and Future still have upcoming projects on the way (Views From The 6, Ape Shit, Monster 2), meaning that this trajectory that both artists are on is still trending upwards.
What a time….to be alive.
Standout Tracks – “Jumpman”, “Diamonds Dancing”, “Big Rings”, “Change Locations”
01. Digital Dash
02. Big Rings
03. Live From The Gutter
04. Diamonds Dancing
06. Plastic Bag
07. I’m The Plug
08. Change Locations
11. 30 For 30 Freestyle
Listen to WATTBA (as if you haven’t already) below via Spotify.
Release Date: September 20, 2015
Label: Cash Money Records
Format: Digital, Vinyl, CD