It’s only around the third track of Drake and Future’s new collaborative record, What A Time To Be Alive, that the ironic weight of the title begins to sink in. “I watched my broad give up on me like I’m average” Future raps on Live From The Gutter, a brisk walk through some very shadowy territory. Indeed, with its stripped back, bony textures and heavy lyrical content, the work What A Time To Be Alive most brings to mind is Drake’s own If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Not to imply that the work is a rehash of old ground: it digs deeper; gouges further; hurts more.
Drake and Future compliment each other in a variety of interesting ways. Although there are similarities between both the pair’s style and their thematic content – Digital Dash sees the two united in order to discuss life at the top, for example – they aren’t carbon copies of each other. Though Drake is often painted as an overly sensitive type, he repeatedly pushes the envelope further than Future, and on a track like the energetic Jumpman comes out swinging hard.
Future, by contrast, finds refuge in the tremors of his own voice. Though Diamonds Dancing is filled to the brim with brags, Future’s delivery of a line like “sipping on Dom Pérignon for no reason/Popping tags, upper echelon for no reason” adds an element of nihilistic pain to the proceedings, transforming the piece into something that could have been torn straight from the pages of a Bret Easton Ellis novel.
What A Time To Be Alive is an extraordinarily sensitive work, but it’s not fragile, or passive. It’s a blistering well of pain – a gouged hole in the flesh that trembles against the touch. And, more than that, it’s another hit turned out by a pair of artists who have given us nothing but hits for some time now.