Release Date: Sep 20, 2015
Record label: Cash Money
“When you get around Future, it’s a vortex,” said Drake of his Altanta-based collaborator (real name Nayvadius Cash) on this uneven, but ultimately thrilling, 11-track mixtape. At first, the imbalance in their contributions (Drake supplies no more than a third of the verbals) suggests it’s the mild-mannered Toronto megastar who’s been sucked in. But in the end, Future’s eerily Auto-Tuned sing-song vocal style, suspended somewhere between Lil Wayne’s salacious croak and the spiritual suspended animation of a Gregorian chant, seems to energise him, so by the superb, closing 30 for 30 Freestyle, Drake is sounding as dynamic and engaged as at any time since 2009’s stellar So Far Gone.
Talking to Big Think, Slavoj Žižek defines “event” as “something extraordinary [that] takes place… Within a certain field of phenomena where things go on the normal flow of things, from time to time something happens which as it were retroactively changes the rules of what is possible in the sense that something happens. ” To hear talk of Drake and Future’s collaborative album in the mere days the world had to prepare before it materialized, the two were in the center of a capital-E Event. Many early reviews, too, spoke of it in continued reverence; this pairing generated the most buzz since the maximalist masterpiece Watch the Throne, though hip-hop has produced highly impressive tandems (see Killer Mike and El-P’s Run the Jewels output and Jeremiah Jae and L’Orange’s The Night Took Us in Like Family as just two worthy examples) in the years following.
Way before Drake’s much-publicised beef with Meek Mill (the latter rapper alleged the former employed ghost-writers and the war of words escalated), Drizzy feuded in 2013 with Future, the wilfully weird trap star from Atlanta. Future offered a lukewarm review of Drake’s 2013 album ‘Nothing Was The Same’ in an interview with Billboard and briefly found himself dropped from the Canadian star’s tour. That spat is now a thing of the past, having been eclipse by the rush-release of this joint mixtape, recorded in six days and unveiled over the weekend via Drake’s OVO Sound radio show on Beats 1 and his Instagram post of its album art, a close-up of a cluster of icy-looking diamonds.
P.O.S. :: Chill, dummyDoomtree RecordsAuthor: Patrick TaylorI've been a fan of Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander since his debut nearly 10 years ago. On "Audition" and 2009's "Never Better," he proved himself to be one of the few artists who could successfully meld punk rock and hip-hop. Fellow Minnesotans ….
You want to be on Drake’s side. As Meek Mill learned this summer after firing ghostwriting allegations Drake’s way, the view of Drizzy as a “softy” is (at least partly) an illusion. Both “Charged Up” and “Back to Back” were diss songs colder than Meek’s “Wanna Know”, and Drake’s consensus win in the feud confirmed what the muscular songs of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late suggested.
A surprise mixtape that went from announcement to the top of the Billboard charts within a matter of a few weeks, What a Time to Be Alive is also a worthy hang session from MCs Drake and Future, one that feels instant, spontaneous, and just messy enough to keep off the top shelf. Think of it as a less ambitious Watch the Throne and the listener's role is mapped out, as being in awe or living vicariously through these songs is the only option for anyone not signed to the OVO and Freebandz imprints. The mixtape comes alive with half-tempo club bangers like "Jumpman" (a druggy Future drops "Way too much codeine and Adderall" while a money-blowing Drake goes "Nobu, Nobu, Nobu.
Review Summary: The victory lap. Even despite monumental releases like To Pimp a Butterfly and Compton, it'd be difficult to formulate a cogent argument against 2015 belonging to Future or Drake. Post-Ciara Future has been a veritable workhorse, having released 4 projects thusfar in 2015, with a potential fifth on the way (not to mention, his mixtape Monster dropped fourth quarter of last year), and if Drake's forthcoming Views From the 6 drops before the year's end, he'll likely be the first artist in history to have three platinum projects from one year - oh, and he still had time to end a career on the road to the 3peat.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Rumours of a supposed collaboration project between rap's top-tier melodic virtuosos and the presence of a mystery (later confirmed as fugazi) website housing a suspicious timer counting down the seconds to a speculative joint mixtape between Future and Drake, left the internet in a virtual hysteria. Not only has 2015 been the most astounding year in rap music this decade, but Future and Drake have both spoiled their fandoms with well-received, still relevant deliveries just months apart.
Superstar team-ups almost always seem better in theory. History suggests they are nearly twice as likely to produce a resounding dud as a working piece of art, and yet the prospect never ceases to excite us. When rumors began to swirl weeks ago that Drake and Future might be releasing a joint project, the Internet went into a frenzy. Watch the Throne parallels were drawn, fake cover art circulated, and a website countdown appeared as if to wish it into existence.
What a Time to Be Alive is not the best album of 2015, but it is the album that best defines 2015 so far. After limited foreshadowing, it dropped at an unconventional time and in a manner that, Instagram hints aside, qualifies as a “surprise release.” Drake’s winter record, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, is the only album released this calendar year to go platinum; Future’s Dirty Sprite 2 was his first No. 1 record.
"Man, what a time...to be alive,” Drake reflects on “Big Rings.” Within the song, another ready-made bromance banger for you and the squad to bellow in the club, it’s a boast, indicative of how far he’s come and how well he and his cohorts are playing the game in 2015—the same year that Apple gave him a reported $19 million just to be a DJ every two weeks and premiere his new music exclusively. What a time, indeed. It’s an understandable title for an album, because...what a time to be a rap fan.
Drake’s now released What A Time To Be Alive is much more than just a collaborative mixtape-as-album released with croon-rapping Atlanta-based trap icon Future. Not unlike Drake’s February-debuted surprise platinum-seller If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, it’s a great chance to see Drake figuring out what’s stylistically next for him. Though not the blow away success that meets the considerable hype surrounding its debut, What A Time To Be Alive certainly features 2015’s top-selling rap superstar duo turning up and having a helluva lot of fun.
What a time to be alive — and being "alive," as Future and Drake define it, involves having way too many feelings about way too many strippers for way too many sleepless nights. Their surprise mixtape collabo is shrewdly timed, since both MCs are on a creative roll after dropping two of the year's biggest and best albums. It's a quickie and it sounds that way: a six-day digital dash in the studio.
Two of hip-hop's biggest artists, amongst a whirlwind of hype thanks to swirling rumours the week prior on Twitter, have come together for a surprise collaboration. While the fact that Drake and Future managed to make What a Time to Be Alive despite their contractual obligations and label politics is a monumental feat, the glittery stock image cover art and viral rollout strategy can only do so much to mask this missed opportunity for a spiritual successor to the Watch the Throne dynamic that these two rappers, each at the top of their respective games, strive for. On his OVO Sound Beats 1 radio show, the Boy revealed this project only took six days to put together, likely because of hectic summertime schedules, and potential for cohesive moments between both artists are seldom reached, despite the mixtape being produced mostly by rising Atlanta producer Metro Boomin.
In case you missed it, here’s the news from this month: The immigration crisis in Europe intensifies, Donald Trump’s presidency bid included a misogynistic attack on Carly Fiorina, Pope Francis travels to the richest country in the world to debate issues of inequality and poverty, Rikers Island guards cover up assaults on inmates, multiple wildfires rage in California, frat bros charged with murder in a hazing death, and retired tennis player James Blake gets tackled by the NYPD while minding his business in Midtown. And through all of this madness, Drake and Future were still able to put on their superhero capes when they released their highly-anticipated collaborative project, What a Time to Be Alive after recording in Atlanta for just six days. But less than two years ago, Drake and Future’s relationship was anything but sweet.
It’s what we’ve all been waiting for ain’t it? Two of the hottest and most influential rappers in the game right now coming together for a full-length joint album, a forward-looking Watch The Throne, a state of the union for hip-hop itself. There were rumors, hints, clues, mysterious countdowns and confusion on all sides as to when the project was coming out, whether it would be an album or a mixtape, whether it even existed at all. But when Drake and Future finally confirmed, then released, their new collaborative LP What A Time To Be Alive on OVO’s Beats 1 radio show on Sunday afternoon, it confirmed what plenty of hip-hop fans already suspected: at the top of their games, Future and Drake are untouchable.
Drake & FutureWhat A Time To Be AliveCash Money/ Epic RecordsProduction: Metro Boomin, Boi-1da, Southside, Allen Ritter, 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. Two of the 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.
It’s tricky to figure out whether this mixtape most benefits Future or Drake. Given Drake’s profile, it seems obvious that his presence amplifies the project. But Future’s man Metro Boomin oversees most of the beats as executive producer, so Drake sounds less a leading man than a dude contributing features, catching trap star Future’s heat. Future uses his downcast, just-woke-up rasp of a voice for cold, mumbled raps that fans find so alluring.
The idea of a partnership of equals is, at best, fallacy, and at worst, fantasy. Never is that more clear than when one-half of the team-up is Drake or Taylor Swift, the anchors of contemporary pop music. Sunday night, Drake and Future released their collaborative album, “What a Time to Be Alive” (Cash Money/Epic), and the alt-country wanderer Ryan Adams unveiled “1989” (PAX-AM/Blue Note), his full-album cover of Taylor Swift’s multiplatinum LP.