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Sonic the Hedgehog to J.Lo: Five questions raised by Drake's 'More Life'


Published on March 19, 2017

Rapper Drake watches the action between the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors during first half NBA playoff basketball action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Drake has finally delivered "More Life," but he hasn't necessarily handed us all the answers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO — Drake has finally delivered "More Life," but he hasn't necessarily handed us all the answers.

The Toronto-raised rapper unleashed his latest 22-track studio project Saturday, giving fans plenty of material to chew on while raising a whole new batch of questions.

It's been a long time coming, at least for those who thought the album would arrive in December.

The artist, born Aubrey Graham, kept pushing "More Life" back, teasing listeners with clues while saying he considered it more a playlist custom-made for streaming music services than a traditional album.

As the debate rages on over whether Drake's playlist will inspire others to forgo albums themselves, it seems like "More Life" has let him explore styles beyond his usual boundaries.

He seamlessly pivots from catchy afrobeats to house vibes and still leaves room for appearances by major rap stars such as Kanye West, Travis Scott and 2 Chainz.

Not everything met expectations, though. Some fans wondered what happened to a rumoured collaboration with fellow Toronto singer The Weeknd, while others noted a sparse presence by Drake's OVO Sound label mates, like Roy Woods and Majid Jordan.

Here are five other questions to ponder while reflecting on the meaning of "More Life":

WHERE DID JLO GO?: An appearance by Jennifer Lopez seemed like one of the few certainties of "More Life." The Latina songstress posted an Instagram photo cuddling Drake a few months ago, which fuelled rumours of a tryst in the studio. Within days, a clip of their presumed collaboration "Get It Together" leaked online. But Lopez is missing from the final version, with her part replaced by U.K. newcomer Jorja Smith. However, Lopez isn't entirely absent — Drake raps "I drunk text JLo. Old number so it bounce back" on "Free Smoke," and a distorted sample of "If You Had My Love" appears on "Teenage Fever." Could it be a subtle jab at the singer, who recently started dating former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez?

HOW DID HE PICK THOSE SAMPLES?: Drake spares no expense in showcasing his eclectic taste for memorable songs. He digs into the record crates for Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long," and throws it on the outro of "Blem," while fellow soul legends Earth Wind & Fire get their song "Devotion" worked into "Glow." But more surprising is Drake's magnetism to underdogs such as South African house DJ Black Coffee, whose jazzy "Superman" is the backdrop for "Get It Together." He even throws a total curveball with a sample of "His World," the theme from the Sonic the Hedgehog video game, on the track "KMT."

WILL DRAKE'S LOVE FOR CANADA EVER FADE?: While some Toronto Raptors fans growl about Drake's absence from recent games, he's still got props for Canada. Hints of his homeland are scattered throughout "More Life," including a subtle nod at the mac and cheese formerly known as Kraft Dinner ("Mama never used to cook much. Used to chef KD," on "Free Smoke") and local Toronto-area spots he once knew ("Used to be at SilverCity Indigo. Used to be in lunchroom playing dominoes," on "Do Not Disturb"). He even leaves time for one of Canada's most popular tourist attractions, though it's not exactly a shining endorsement ("We evolved, used to think vacation meant Niagara Falls" he raps on "Can't Have Everything").

DID MOM BRING HIM BACK TO EARTH?: Drake's mom Sandi Graham offers wise words on the final moments of "Can't Have Everything." In what appears to be a voicemail clip, she suggests her son checks his emotions. "I'm a bit concerned about this negative tone I'm hearing in your voice these days," she says. "That attitude will just hold you back in this life." She ends with a slight paraphrase on Michelle Obama's famous 2016 Democratic National Convention quote: "When others go low, we go high."

WILL DRAKE SETTLE DOWN?: Drake seems to take his mom's advice to heart, suggesting on "Do No Disturb" that he'll slam the brakes on his whirlwind music career. On the final track he lays out his plan saying, "Take the summer off 'cause they tell me I need recovery. Maybe getting back to my regular life will humble me. I'll be back 2018 and get you the summary." Maybe that'll be enough time to settle into his new mansion in Toronto's posh Bridle Path neighbourhood and ring a few doorbells.

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David Friend, The Canadian Press