Ever since two of the hottest names in Hip Hop, Drake and Future, announced that they would be releasing a collaborative mixtape, the Internet has been at the edge of its seat, highly anticipating what might possibly be one of the hottest mixtapes of 2015. After a week or so of teasing, early yesterday morning Drake announced on Instagram that What A Time To Be Alive would be available for purchase on iTunes at 8pm. Although I am not normally the biggest fan of Future, his last collaboration with, “Where Ya At,” a single off of Future’s DS2, quickly became one of the hottest Hip Hop songs of 2015.
As I sat in my room blasting the mixtape through my headphones, my initial thought was that almost every song of the 11 song mixtape are extremely bass heavy songs and require good speakers/headphones to fully appreciate the production. The mixtape’s opener “Digital Dash,” soaked in heavy bass and jumpy 808 drums, adequately foreshadows the rest of the mixtape’s heavy trap/banger feel. It’s almost the perfect transition to “Big Rings,” the second song, continuing the string of bangers.
One of the exceptions to the banger style proves to be “Live From The Gutter.” On the surface, the song is masked by the all to familiar heavy hitting Future sound but looking at the lyrics, it is evident that the song actually has a deeper meaning in reference to Future’s tough upbringing from the “gutter.” This is one of few instances where the mixtape takes a deeper, somewhat emotional approach to the music. The track diversifies the style of the mixtape, which I think is a great touch. “Plastic Bag” and Drake’s solo freestyle “30 for 30 Freestyle,” reflect the slow paced, deep style which is a nice break from wall vibrating bass lines and catchy choruses that define most of the tracks.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, songs like “I’m The Plug” and “Jumpman” are most likely going to be heard in every club/party in America very soon. Drake’s smooth flow in combination with Future’s ability to make any song hype are embodied on these songs. Extremely catchy choruses, hard hitting bass, loud synth, if you wanted to listen to this mixtape solely for heavy bangers, these two songs are what you are looking for.
“Scholarships,” one of my favorite songs on the album is very reminiscent of “Where Ya At.” It perfectly balances hardcore rap and slower paced rap which makes it the song the most unique on the mixtape. The rest of the songs “Diamonds Dancing,” “Changing Locations,” and Future’s solo song “Jersey,” are really just filler songs with average beat production and lyricism. To be honest none of those three songs stand out to me and sound like the standard Future sound that I’m not the biggest fan of.
To all the Drake fans reading this, I regret to inform you that this mixtape is essentially just Future’s solo album with Drake as a feature artist. If you listen to What A Time To Be Alive expecting a significant amount of Drake verses, you will be disappointed as Drake is limited to one verse per song with the exception of “30 for 30 Freestyle” which is all him. Overall the mixtape received crazy publicity and quickly took the #1 spot on iTunes as soon as it was dropped. Even LeBron James shouted Future and Drake out on Facebook saying “Yup! THEY can go solo or team up together and make fire either way…Drizzy and Future Hendrix ain’t playing fair!”
Although What a Time to Be Alive falls somewhere short of its massive expectations and hype, it is still a very solid mixtape from two of hip-hop’s biggest stats. WATTBA features a variety of diverse songs, mainly focussing on hardcore/trap rap that we associate with Future. On the opposite end, Drake, known for a softer sound continues his increasing shift towards the hardcore style, evident his new song with The Game “100.” If this mixtape is any indication of what we can expect to see from him on his new album Views From The Six, it’s a step in the right direction.