More Life is one of my favorite projects ever, as the music transports me back to one of the most pivotal times of my life. Today, on its five-year anniversary, I reflect on being in the midst of my (first) senior year at Cornell University and coping with the reality I would graduate a semester later than planned. This collection instilled in me a much-needed, two-pronged sense of confidence, in that there was more to life than the failures that bogged me down because I had “more life” within me. I reflect fondly on being able to bounce back from the losses the same way Drake touched on his ability to do the same, following his commercially successful yet critically panned 2016 album, Views.
Now, revisiting this project wasn’t all pleasant. In fact, I hate my editor, Austin Williams, for making me rank songs that mean so much to me, but, of course, thank him for the opportunity to put my pen to work. I now have more empathy for my fellow list-writing journalists.
More Life was one of Drake’s most daring efforts, and it landed. He packed so much into one project, delivering at a high clip within each sub-genre. Everyone may not love everything, but there’s something, possibly a lot, for everyone to enjoy here. More Life is often kept out of the “top Drake projects” conversation for a variety of reasons: His labeling the project a playlist (perhaps to alleviate pressure), its technical “commercial mixtape” title a la Wikipedia, the underutilization of the compiled songs post-release, and other potential factors.
Ranking this project was challenging yet fun. It’s easy to say, “This is top five,” but actually creating the order and then quadrupling that number is my villain origin story (*cues “Free Smoke”*). What this list reinforced is that the best Drake songs are carried by their memorable moments, Easter egg-laden songwriting, and, of course, the emotion he both conveys to listeners and elicits from them.
Moreover, what’s notable about this list of 22 Drake songs is more than half of them are good if not great, which can’t be said of very many artists. The variety of genres on More Life stratifies the many sides of Drake, succinctly displayed in the diversity of the record’s top four songs.
Enjoy my ranking on behalf of VIBE. We look forward to the debates we’ll more than likely ignore.