The diamond emoji found its way into every phone’s “recently used” section on Sunday night, when Drake and Future dropped their collaborative mixtape, What A Time To Be Alive. The cover image, a stock photo of some bright-ass diamonds, seems an unusual choice for the artists’ collaboration – until you remember that it’s 2015. Oh, and what a time it is to be alive — a time of Vines and memes, hashtags and retweets. And so the diamond emoji littered my Twitter feed — and the comment section of Meek Mill’s Instagram — because that’s exactly what Drake and Future intended for it to do.
What A Time To Be Alive
Drake x Future
Cash Money/Epic Records
Even before the tape debuted on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio, the Internet was already in a frenzy. For weeks, there were rumors of a mythical project in the works. Coming off of successful summers — Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late went platinum and Future released the highly anticipated DS2 — there seemed to be a spark catching between the two. And then when Meek Mill, first, claimed Drake used a ghostwriter and, second, told a DJ to turn off a Future song at his Made In America Festival set, he ignited the fire.
Unfortunately, this fire is outshined by that now-relevant diamond emoji; the tape’s Internet presence is stronger than the actual content on the tape. It’s already been memed, tweeted, Instagramed and whatever the fuck else you can do on the Internet. Its lyrics have already settled nicely under Instagrams because Drake and Future know their audience. They know we prefer sound bytes to full-length songs and emojis to actual words.
And when the two biggest rappers in the game announce a collaboration, it almost goes without saying that it won’t live up to the hype (Watch the Throne, anyone?). They have radically different styles, making it hard to create a cohesive sound. The result: DS2 scraps with Drake features on them. Because of trap-heavy production by Future’s go-to guy, Metro Boomin, Drake sounds completely out of place. And, let’s be honest, can anyone understand what the fuck Future is saying? If you can make out words through his codeine-induced mumbling, you realize he’s actually rapping about some serious shit. And then we get Drake, still just, like, talking about women. The tension between their chosen subject matter makes it, at times, almost awkward to listen to. Like in “Live From the Gutter,” we feel like Future’s actually been there, and Drake — well — he definitely hasn’t.
Still, the tape is not without strengths. “Jumpman” is a straight banger — one of Future’s verses is just “NOBU, NOBU, NOBU, NOBU, NOBU, NOBU.” “Change Locations” gives us the Drake-iest Drake verse we’ll find on the tape — “2 in the morning, my mind is on you / 4 in the morning, it still hasn’t moved.” “Scholarships” finally manages to meld together Drake’s pop-like delivery and Future’s trap-like production perfectly.
And part of the appeal of the whole project, the initial reason the Internet exploded, was its unlikelihood. These two artists don’t need each other’s help. They didn’t need to collaborate, and seeing as they reportedly recorded in a mere six days, it doesn’t really seem like they had the time to either. They did it purely for us.
So it doesn’t matter if you find the diamond emoji luminous or lack-luster because, chances are, it’ll be around for a while.