The rap gods have blessed us more than usual in 2015, especially in the cases of Drake and Future who have both dropped albums and mixtapes this year. When the duo announced a joint project, the internet went into a frenzy. What A Time To Be Alive is Drake’s second release of the year and as for Future, an impressive fourth project. The much hyped collaborative mixtape, executive produced by Metro Boomin, boasts 9 new Drake-Future tracks and an individual track for each artist. Many comparisons have been made to the ultimate collab album, Watch the Throne by Jay-Z & Kanye West, and while this is a strong contender, it ultimately falls short.
The production on this album is amazing. The beats are clean with the kind of strong baselines and synth-y melodies that are sure to make them regulars on radio stations and dance floors alike. Metro Boomin’s signature ad-lib can be heard the bulk of this album, although he gets some help from Boi-1da, Neenyo, Southside, and, Drake’s golden boy, 40, all of who produce their own tracks on the album. With a production team like that, can there really be any complaints?
While the producers on the tape are able to create a cohesive sound, the same cannot be said of Drake and Future. Throughout WATTBA, Future outshines the 6 God, often leaving Drake to sound like a superfluous addition. This is immediately apparent on the opening track “Digital Dash,” where Future goes in and Drake struggles to follow. This theme recurs on “Big Rings” as well, where Drake only offers a boring hook and weak bars. Regardless, the duo are able to come together and create some great cohesive tracks like “Scholarships” and the certifiable banger “Jumpman,” possibly the only track where Drake outranks Future. And while WATTBA isn’t some kind of lyrical feat, Drake still manages to serve up some underhanded references to the Meek Mill beef, notably “The pen is working if you n****s need some ghostlines.” Future on the other hand returns with his usual quips about codeine over everything and his love of strippers.
The best song on the album may be “Scholarships.” Drake and Future manage to trade off verses so effortlessly on this track it makes this entire mixtape seem meant to be. Both rappers are so in their element, it just feels right. “30 for 30”, Drake’s solo track, is perhaps not the worst, but definitely the most out of place track. It’s a very classic Drake outro, braggadocios in that slow Drizzy flow we’re used to, but it just doesn’t make sense on the tape. It sounds like an repurposed track from the Nothing Was The Same cutting floor. Really though, who decided to put this on the tape?
That being said, What A Time to be Alive is ultimately just a mixtape. In this day and age the line between the mixtape and studio album are so blurred it’s hard to tell one from the other. Drake and Future offer a solid effort, and while they stumble a little, they ultimately make a good mixtape. Emphasis on mixtape.
By Imaan Sayed