By all accounts, Drake and Future’s joint album What A Time To Be Alive is a present. Recorded during a few productive nights in Atlanta, it’s essentially a tossed-off collection of tracks with beats that slot neatly into Future’s incredible three-project run from this year and raps that sound like…well, like they were tossed off during a few productive nights in Atlanta. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the record, but a collaboration between the two biggest rappers in the game is bound to yield some gold.
As much as this project feels like a minor work from both artists, there’s a chance that in the next few years we’ll look at What A Time To Be Alive as a legitimate turning point in both of their careers. And the hidden gem (sorry) on this project is “Change Locations”.
The track features both rappers in late night riding mode, with looping synths and skittering production that create in immediate locked-in groove that doesn’t let up. Future cuts through the haze immediately with an incredible boast: “Sixty naked bitches, no exaggeration.” It’s a great hook, one that instantly drops you into the middle of the song’s spiral, followed by verses that propel you ever-forward. Most of Future’s verse (outside of maybe the most Future-y line ever, “I think them percocets had me in my feelings”) uses repetition to practically hypnotize listeners into his drugged-out mindset. It’s incredible how much his delivery of “I see [that money is] piling and piling and piling and piling and piling and piling” gives off an air of pure apathy. There’s almost no celebration in this song. They spend the money because it’s there. They buy all the bottles, fuck models and waitresses, then change locations and do it all over again. It’s actually kind of sad.
Drake makes his woes more overt, with a verse about obsessing over a woman (“Two and the morning, my mind is on you. Four in the morning, it still hasn’t moved…”) and burrowing yourself in with your friends to compensate. It’s his best rapping on the record, a clipped triplet flow on a verse that I’ve definitely looped a few dozen times walking around the city at night. This isn’t a track meant for radio by any means, but it shows what a strong sense he has for making his life relatable through art, the talent that’s endeared him to millions of listeners like myself.
Look, Drake’s had an extremely productive 2015 by all accounts. Two albums, a dozen or so loose tracks, festival headline spots, and a decisive rap beef victory helped him grab headlines for pretty much the entire year. Yet there’s this slightly desperate undercurrent that’s permeated the leadup to 2016’s highly anticipated Views from the 6. He’s put such pressure on himself to discover something new, to stretch himself in search of a defining statement. And it’s shown: there’s been more conversation than ever this year about Drake co-opting sounds and flows. But when he’s locked in—and on this song, he and Future are locked in—there’s no doubt that the Boy is making great music. Let’s see where he goes next.
Play this song: Late at night with the volume turned up until you break your speakers.