Believe it or not (we'd prefer not to), the third year of the '20s is almost upon us. In a decade that's thus far been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a slow transition into the aftermath, a generation that lived out its youths in the 2010s has been locked into both their homes and a state of perma-nostalgia for better days.
The 2010s were a melting-pot for controversies, a changing of the guard, and a slew of unforgettable albums in music: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, Beyonce's Lemonade, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, and Tyler's Flower Boy.
Those are just a few albums we have the 2010s to thank for, albums popularly regarded as the peak of their creators' careers.
At the midpoint of the decade, following Thank Me Later, Take Care, and Nothing Was The Same, and If You're Reading This It's Too Late, Drake shifted his sonic output. This milestone in his career, a moment that would shift the landscape of music for years to come, was the release of What A Time To Be Alive, a collaboration with Future.
Up until this point, many diehard hip-hop fans were still struggling with the transition into the "Drake Era;" the rapper's blend of R&B vocals and introspective lyrics with classic hip-hop samples and braggadocious claims still hadn't quite won them over.
Yes, by this point, a vocal majority had declared Take Care a classic and heavily debated the status of Nothing Was The Same, but Drake's "The Boy" persona hadn't been cemented in the mainstream – yet.
Whether or not Drake and Future knew it, What A Time To Be Alive was certainly a fitting title.
Amidst a sea change in fashion and Hollywood, Drake and Future were crafting an aural palette that has become all-encompassing by 2021.
The album saw Champagne Papi undergo a chameleon-like transformation as he adopted and adapted the flows and lyrical content of his Atlantan counterpart, Future. Guided by executive producer Metro Boomin, the pair laid down bangers like "Big Rings," "Digital Dash," and the unforgettable "Jumpman."
These tracks brought new energy to Drake's catalog and new attention to Future. Propped up by the pair's previous collaborative track, "Where Ya At," the album was an instant success – and the duo's claims that they completed the full tracklist in 6 days would become the precursor for the "microwave era" of music.
Over the past six years, the artist's featuring on each other's albums have become the norm, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a hip-hop album that doesn't feature a Metro Boomin beat. While the beat selection on collaborative tracks isn't as energized now as it was in 2015, not-so-subtle flexes and lustful woes have reached peak levels – complete with well-memed videos.
Despite its age, What A Time To Be Alive still feels fresh. Even if you're a fan of the mixtape, it birthed the contemporary versions of Drake and Future, which certainly stands for something.