by Alex MacDonald
Truly, What a Time it is to be Alive for Leland Wayne, aka, Metro Boomin’, the Atlanta hitmaker who produced 7 of 11 tracks on this meeting of hip-hop Goliaths. Much like Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, aka as “Future,” Metro Boomin’ has skyrocketed to new levels of super-stardom in 2015. Their simultaneous ascents to success is no coincidence either. Future and Metro Boomin’ have been working closely since they released their first collaboration, “Hard,” on DJ Esco’s “Welcome to Mollyworld” in 2012. Since then they have worked with countless other artists, but In November of last year when this duo released the aptly named beast of a project “Monster,” and later in this summer’s “Dirty Sprite 2,” they demonstrated that they are better working together. This chemistry is apparent in “What a Time to Be Alive” as Future utilizes his codeine-laced flows effortlessly over Metro Boomin’s signature production. The sound that made countless rap fans perk their ears up after “Monster” and “Dirty Sprite 2” is in full effect here, and for Future fans this will be enough to warrant giving this tape spins.
This time around, Future and Metro Boomin’ aren’t working alone, and are teaming up with Drake, who is coming off a colossal 2015 year that has seen him breaking streaming record with “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” and body Meek Mill with the diss track “Back to Back.” Drake in 2015 is not the same emotional everyman that released “Marvin’s Room” in 2012, and his style on this tape reflects this. From his lazy, robotic, and apathetic flows to his simplistic bars on most of the tracks on this project, Drake seems to be going out of his way to make sure everyone knows that he is comfortable at the top of the rap game. The only time that he shows flashes of his melodic side is on the “30 for 30 Freestyle,” the one track produced by his in-house producer Noah “40” Shebib. With the excepting of this song, he seemed somewhat out-of-place on this project, taking a backseat to Future on most of the tracks. None of this is to say that Drake performed poorly on the project, when he was on hook duty his flair for crafting catchy choruses was demonstrated time and time again. Many of the hooks on this mixtape are similar in style to “10 Bands” off “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” very simplistic and formulaic. It seems as though Drake is making hooks ideal for use in video clips for Vine, Instagram, and Twitter. This is most apparent in “Jumpman” and “Big Rings,” which have not surprisingly turned out to be the most popular songs off of the project.
Separating itself from the pack, “Diamonds Dancing” was the most surprising track on the mixtape, and reflected an ethereal sound I wish they had pursued more. The instrumental, co-produced by Metro Boomin’, Allen Ritter, and Frank Dukes is huge and presented Future a chance to diversify his flow and allowed Drake to sing.
Supposedly, this mixtape was completed in 6 days while Drake and Future shared a studio together and the mixtape reflects this, feeling more like some “Dirty Sprite 2” songs which never made it on the album, with some Drake to spice it up. “What a Time to Be Alive” is a fun project and I anticipate “Jumpman,” “Big Rings,” and “I’m the Plug” being played at many college parties this semester, but it isn’t the best work out of either of them, and hopefully in Drake’s upcoming Album “Views From The 6ix” his sound will be more carefully composed.