By Jacqueleen Eng ’19
“This album alone boosted my confidence by 200. I am now a lightskin. 30 seconds after I bought this 320 females DM’ed me. I can now shoot like Stephen Curry while maintaining the physique of Lebron James. I now feel confident to go to Phili and tell Meek Mill to catch this left hook.” -iTunes review by AvNeazy
If you follow the action over at the rap dedicated forum, Kanye To The (KTT for short), then you would know that the Drake x Future thread dates back to about 2 weeks ago, but their comprehensive timeline highlights hints about the collaboration that go the back to August 20. In less than a month, the hype for this project was unreal. While Future and Drake are not very alike in their styles, What A Time To Be Alive blew up and deserves all the fire emojis it got. Debuting on Drake’s OVO Sound radio show on Beats 1 on Apple music, I was incredulous to discover that Drake stuck true to his word. Many of us have been thirsting after the alleged new Frank Ocean that may never come, so the release of a big tape between two big names was like discovering that Peirce has strawberries at breakfast. A reminder that good in this world still exists.
The mixtape overall received positive reviews. Pitchfork named “Diamonds Dancing” Best New Music, it’s reported to have sold almost 340k units in a week alone, and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. While this is not quite the incredible 3-day sales numbers of 495k that Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late earned, it is still proof that Drake may be the biggest name in the game. Some fans are critical of Future’s involvement with Drake in general— probably expecting WATTBA to be another Drake-esque tape. It’s not. The beats are characteristically more Future, as are the contents of the lyrics. (The cover is also a stock image just like Future’s DS2.) While Drake maintains his sentimental Drakeness on tracks like “Diamonds Dancing” where he raps, “haven’t even heard from you / How can you live with yourself…”, Future’s lean/gang banging/trap house dwelling themes persist. Future mentions his fondness for the syrup on many occasions, and on “Big Rings” both are reveling in the glory of their successes. The tape title comes into play where both Future and Drake exclaim, “man, what a time to be alive.”
The mixtape was created in just six days, and for that reason I think many people categorize it under the “party music” umbrella and don’t expect much quality out of the lyrics. This assumption is in part correct. This wasn’t meant to be a game changing mixtape, rather a collaboration of two names in rap music who have started from the bottom and can now celebrate with their whole teams here. Future moved from the hood of Atlanta to Beverly Hills as noted in “Live From the Gutter” and Drake, well we know where he came from. It’s hard not to think what this would have been without our Canadian friend. The mixtape’s huge success is in large part to just Drake’s name. Drake fans often favor “30 for 30 Freestyle” and cite it as a preview of what Drake’s highly anticipated next album, Views From the 6. What A Time To Be Alive is a fun project with catchy songs featuring two prominent rappers. Beneath the surface it not only reaffirms Drake’s six God status, but it also proves he recognizes where he stands and uses it to his advantage.