By now you've probably heard--or at least heard about--the momentous latest release from hip-hop artist, Drake, More Life. Drake describes the work not as an album or mixtape, but "a body of work bridging the gap between major releases," a playlist of sorts.The work features 22 tracks of varying genres, featuring many guest artists and some not featuring Drake at all. In this way he fills the role of artist and producer as well as curator.
Zach Fuller of Midia Research explored the possible reasoning behind Drake and his team's decision to release the project in this way. He references the "3-minute pop-song," which was created to fit the mold of emerging radio formats. Drake is making use of the emerging digital formats--streaming, and more specifically, playlisting--to express his artistic vision as well as reach more listeners, creating a new musical product. He also mentions that we're currently in an "era of the always-on fan who can access an artist at any time" and a need to consistently provide content. Marketed under the "Drake" name, the project keeps him in the public consciousness, while also bringing attention to lesser known artists.
One of these artists is Australian neo-soul band, Hiatus Kaiyote, whose song "Building a Ladder," released in 2015 on their sophomore LP Choose Your Weapon, is sampled on More Life's opening track, "Free Smoke." Drake is reportedly a long-time fan of the group. Hiatus Kaiyote's Naomi "Nai Palm" Saalfield told Billboard, "The fact that somebody like Drake, as prestigious as an artist, experiencing so much of life, all the time, found sanctuary in [our song], there's beauty in that." In a video posted to Drake's Instagram account with the caption "December," he's seen singing along to "Building a Ladder." The video has gotten over 2 million views in just 3 days, with many commenters shouting out the song from where the sample originated.
Hiatus Kaiyote, as well as the other artists featured on More Life, will no doubt be seeing a surge in streams on their own music, but also reap the rewards of publishing shares on Drake's release. The release is heading to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week, and has broken first-day records on both Spotify and Apple Music. In the first 24 hours of release, More Life was streamed over 150 million times on those two services alone. The project, not premiered exclusively on any service, is specifically catered to streaming audiences, curating a playlist of differing genres and influences tied together by a common thread, and sets a precedent for future releases from artists across genre boundaries.