Who would have known that now, only two years later from their publicised feud in 2013, Drake and Future would release a mixtape, What a Time to be Alive, after only (a rumoured) six days of recording. With little to foreshadow it than a few Instagram hits, Drake and Future released an album that has managed to define 2015 so far, releasing it at an unconventional time with barely any of the advertising and hype we see from most album releases nowadays. However, it is no surprise that Drake, with his record If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late going platinum, and Future, with Dirty Sprite 2 becoming his first No. 1 album, would come together to create something that would keep their listeners interested, but also keep them on the charts.
With a cover that is reminiscent of Watch the Throne [editor’s note: a 2011 collaboration between Jay Z and Kanye West], its gold packaging, and the chilly and minimalistic – yet boasting of wealth – sound of the record, the similarities between the two start to become more and more apparent. Both records were ones that came out not because the artists needed to produce a new record, but simply because they wanted to simultaneously give thanks for the high they were experiencing in their musical career, while also celebrating their wins. When Kanye and Jay Z released Watch the Throne, Kanye had less than a year earlier released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Jay Z? He is just Jay Z. Both records would have been weak if they had been released as separate albums for each artist, but together the parts are greater than the whole. For example, on WATTBA, there are songs such as “Jersey”, that would have been a good Future song, but not good enough to be on Dirty Sprite 2, and Drake’s “30 for 30 Freestyle” that does have a great melody and production, but also some of the confidence and honesty we usually get from Future.
There are many hints that seem to show that the songs on this record seem to have stemmed from the same creative juices that these artists used for their separate successful records, and that they seem to not have gotten out of their systems. One can spot many similarities between Future’s hook on “Diamonds Dancing”, with a cadence similar to that of the one on “Stick Talk.” However it does also appear to show Drake trying to emulate certain technical performance aspects that other artists have used, such as the Runaway-like vocal breakdown that falls through on “Diamonds Dancing”, as well as the Big Sean-esque and bravado hook on “Big Rings” that he achieved in “Worst Behaviour”, but did not work out that well for him here.
It is important to note, however, that even though I do criticise certain elements of this record, it is definitely one of my favourites that has been released this year. Even though some of the technicalities make it seem like it was by accident, it is not. When Kanye and Jay Z dropped Watch the Throne, many critics decided that it was a hollow album with no lyrical substance, however “N****s in Paris” is still constantly played and listened to, and it was performed in concert multiple times in a row. This style and flair is what WATTBA is going for – it is a fine rap record, which more than makes up for the lack of lyrical substance with the style and personality these two artists bring, keeping you entertained throughout.
No matter what, we cannot deny that these two are at the top of their game, and they make it clear that it is much better for you to be on their side than against them. This is Drake and Future right in the midst of their comfort zone, shouting out a “you’re welcome” to their fans for providing them with DS2 and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – and what do the fans shout back? Thank you.