It is an incredibly rare occurrence to see two artists at the top of their genre collaborating for an entire project, which is why hip hop fans everywhere exploded at the news of Drake and Future’s collaborative mixtape entitled What a Time to be Alive. Released on Drake’s apple radio show on September 20, 2015, the album was supposedly made entirely over the course of only six days. The album has received the insane commercial success that could only be achieved by the top two selling rappers in the game, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard 200, and selling over 378,000 copies in its first week. This is the second album of the year for both artists to debut at number 1. Needless to say, despite its quick production, many fans had high expectations for what the Toronto and Atlanta rappers could do together.
The beats, production and vocals of this entire album epitomize a mediocre and generic sound that, quite frankly, was very obviously done in under a week. Both Drake and Future’s flows, especially Drake’s, is no different than anything else we’ve heard from the two artists recently. Drake has adopted an incredibly lazy style of rapping with his recent work and, while a similar style works somewhat well for Future, Drake just doesn’t have the voice to pull it off, and simply sounds half asleep for most of his verses on this album. The beats on this album are more indicative of a typical Future song than Drake’s usual work, which is definitely detrimental to this album. This album never rises above the basic trap beat that you can hear all over the radio. If they were even high quality trap beats, it would’ve made immense difference. However, these beats are nothing more than an indication that this album was done in six days. The production has its bright spots here and there, adding a little bit of flair that improves some of these tracks, but otherwise, this album feels incredibly sloppy and lazy in most aspects.
Lyrically, most of these tracks have nothing but gimmicky lines that they think will blow up on Twitter. Drake has definitely strayed away from the emotional lyrical style that made him famous, and now lies on the side of arrogance. It’s as if he suddenly decided he wanted to be a badass gangster and no one questioned him on it, as seen in these lines from “Diamonds Dancing”: “Cause I just checked my phone and I didn’t get it, I mean, I say hats off for a solid effort, But we didn’t flinch for a second, we got our shit together, Yeah, not here to fight wars
But niggas wanna talk high scores, PARTY just dipped off in a white Porsche, And I just came from dinner where I ate some well done seared scallops that were to die for, But I got bigger fish to fry”. You’re most likely not going to find much more corny lyrics in rap than something like this. One redeeming quality of this album, however, are some of Future’s lyrics. He goes full gangster lyrically, and it works really well on these trap beats. One major example is on “Diamonds Dancing”, as seen in these lines: “I’m familiar with this cash flow, And if you juggin’ you can vouch for me, I did it my way, you could vouch for me, I put the cocaine in the powder in the couch homie, Whenever I step outside the house I keep that glockie on me, Bad bitches wanna come buy the paparazzi on me”. If Drake were to revert back to his original lyrical style, he could’ve complemented Future very well, but instead he just seems to be the weak link throughout the album.
Despite its bright spots here and there, this album is ridiculously uninspired work by both artists. These two have more than thoroughly proven themselves in the past, but simply decided to put forth a lackluster effort. What a Time to be Alive was nothing more than an overly average mixtape that anybody could’ve put out, but these two are so big that the commercial success was coming to them either regardless of the quality of this release. I give What a Time to be Alive a 5/10; even though it’s certainly listenable, that’s about all it is.