A surprise mixtape that went from announcement to the top of the Billboard charts within a matter of a few weeks, What a Time to Be Alive is also a worthy hang session from MCs Drake and Future, one that feels instant, spontaneous, and just messy enough to keep off the top shelf. Think of it as a less ambitious Watch the Throne and the listener's role is mapped out, as being in awe or living vicariously through these songs is the only option for anyone not signed to the OVO and Freebandz imprints. The mixtape comes alive with half-tempo club bangers like "Jumpman" (a druggy Future drops "Way too much codeine and Adderall" while a money-blowing Drake goes "Nobu, Nobu, Nobu....") and "Big Rings" (Drake says you better give his crew some money, while Future drops the weird "I got racks like Serena/All of my rings Aquafina, my bitch Aquafina"). Stoned-out and slow tracks like "Scholarships" offer something more interesting and impossibly emo, as Drake admits "I need acknowledgement/If I got it then tell me I got it then" because he doesn't read the papers. Drake also brings things to a close with a solo and self-aware kiss-off called "30 for 30 Freestyle," which gives up 2015's ultimate meta moment with "My plan was always to make the product jump off the shelf/And treat the money like secrets, keep that shit to ourselves." What a Time to Be Alive, indeed.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries