Album Review: Drake ‘Nothing Was The Same’

 

Drake's album cover for 'Nothing Was The Same' & 'Nothing Was The Same' Deluxe Edition
Drake’s album cover for ‘Nothing Was The Same’ & ‘Nothing Was The Same’ Deluxe Edition

 

Probably the most anticipated album by any rapper this year, Drake released his third studio album ‘Nothing Was The Same’ earlier this week. The album acts as the follow-up to his monster hit sophomore album ‘Take Care’ which earned him a Grammy for best Hip Hop album.  The pressure was really on Drake to deliver something better than great after the meterotic success of ‘Take Care’ which saw him really cement his status as one of the biggest and most important rappers in Hip Hop.

So the question on everybody’s lips was; ‘Did Drake live up to the hype and deliver?’

The album opens with ‘Tuscan Leather’. The first part of the song samples Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ as you can hear the late Houston warble in the background as her vocals have been sped up and screwed in a way that reminded me of Kanye West’s earlier productions. Notice how I said the first part of the song? The song takes a complete turn at the 1:56 mark where the song meanders into a completely new beat which is so smooth you have to replay it over and over again. Its so smooth!!! That switch will  probably end up as one of the best moments of HipHop in 2013. Its THAT good. The song then changes into a rough, thumping, assertive therapy session where Drake addresses his haters;

All of the talkin’, got one reply for all of your comments
Fuck what you think, I’m too busy, that’s why you leave a message’

The song then takes another change of direction where Drake slows it down and asks the one question everyone is wondering; ‘How much time is this nigga gonna spend on an intro?!’ Yeah the song is pretty long for an intro but its one of Drake’s most commanding and musically dynamic songs to date and as the first song on the album is does a brilliant job of starting off the album.

As the album progresses Drake revisits familiar territory on tracks such as ‘Furtherest Thing’ where he gets all retrospective and sensitive rapping about his failed relationships. And this is a side to Drake we have all grown used to seeing and hearing. If anything, I’d say its fast becoming his signature style. It continues to annoy a vast number of people who claim you can’t be emotional and a rapper but Drake, at this stage in his career, gives no fucks.

Thats not to say the entire album is full of Drake feeling sorry for himself, oh no! ‘Worst Behaviour’ is one of my personal favourites on the album and much like ‘Tuscan Leather’, it acts like one big therapy session while Drake literally shouts ‘Motherfucker never loved us!’ I adore this song because I feel this is just what Drake needed, he endures a lot of ridicule and abuse for being ‘the sensitive rapper’ but on ‘Worst Behaviour’ he addresses all his haters in the most brash and unaplogetic way possible. This is his Kanye West post ‘Yeezus’ moment! Also when he spits Mase’s verse from ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’ its a welcome surprise but also a reminder that Drake means business, no matter what era of HipHop you are from or accustom to, he will make sure you know he is the best at what he does.

Feature wise the album doesn’t have many of his Young Money counterparts on the project which makes a nice change and allows Drake to work with relative unknown artists such as Sampha who assists him on the beautiful track ‘Too Much’. If I was to tell anyone who has never heard of Drake before to listen to one song of his, this would be it. The track starts by exploring Drake’s battle with trying to be the best in the game but goes that bit further on the second verse where he vents about his problems with his family, even his mother. He performed the track on  Jimmy Fallon recently and you can see the raw emotion in his delivery when he raps about the issues that engulf family. And this is where Drake excels! When you can RELATE to a rapper you know they’re doing something right. The track reminded me of how J.Cole delivers his own personal stories with great emotion and even better flow and that in itself is a huge compliment.

Elsewhere he works with relative unknown but underground favourite Jhene Aiko who plays the part of his past flame on the haunting track ‘From Time’. This song is not anything new or revolutionary but is a standout song simply by the rapport between the two artists. Its so chilled out and its a nice change for Drake to have a female singer feature who can actually sing, unlike a certain someone he had on Take Care. Ahem.. Lets move on.

Jay Z & Drake
Jay Z & Drake

The biggest feature Drake has on his album is obviously Jay Z who features on the track ‘Pound Cake’. I had huge expectations for this song and I expected greatness and I did not get that at all. I think the fact that this song was originally meant for Jay Z’s ‘MCHG’ album explains why it is such a let down. It literally goes no where. Drake makes a brief appearance but it really is a Jay Z song with Drake in the background. And Jay Z’s verse was nowhere as epic or iconic as many people claimed it to be. Production wise its a pleasant listen but considering those involved in this song I expected so much more.

The album does have it’s fair few of club bangers in the form of ‘The Language’ which features YMCMB’s biggest sideman Birdman who brings nothing to the song. The song itself sees Drake reprise the flow he had on Migos’ ‘Versace’ anthem which was everywhere this summer. For that reason alone I enjoyed this song but thats it. 2 Chainz also makes an appearance on ‘All Me’ which was one of the songs which leaked prior to the album coming out. Personally this song does nothing for me and wouldn’t be surprised if it was added on the album just to make up the numbers. ‘Own It’ only gets going once the beat kicks in but the lyrics are atrocious and could of been left off the album in my opinion and ‘Started From The Bottom’ ,which was the album’s lead single, kind of falls into the background on this album and is probably one of the weaker tracks on the project.

But with the minor dips in this album comes major peaks and one of those peaks come in the form of ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’. This track acts as the 2nd official single from the album and is in every way, shape and form P E R F E C T!!! The inspiration behind the track came from his own Mother who asked what one of his songs would age the best? Whats the Drake song that people would play at their weddings? The song introduces Drake as an RnB singer entirely as he doesn’t rap once on the song and you know what? It works. We have all heard him sing here and there but to hear him sing completely, though assisted with Majid Jordan, shows people that Drake can in-fact sing! Does this track fit within the context of the album? Not quite. I think the song itself is a little too polished and perfect and probably would have sounded better on ‘Take Care’ but regardless the song will go down of one of Drake’s best pieces of work.

So after all that, did Drake deliver? I’d say Yes.

‘Take Care’ is still his best album both production wise and lyrically but ‘NWTS’ is a great follow up. I don’t see this album getting any Grammys which isn’t to say the album won’t be successful. Hell, this week Drake is projected to sell 700,000+ copies of the album in its first week! I’ve asked people and some have said they preferred ‘Take Care’ while others have said this album exceeded their expectations so it really is a mixed bag.

Drake himself is an acquired taste which some people never will acquire. Is this a bad thing? Course not. And I think Drake too has realised this. You can’t please everyone when it comes to your music and on this album Drake doesn’t give a single ounce of a fuck what anyone says. He’s found his happy medium and accepts that he probably is ‘the sensitive rapper’ and lives up to that title with brilliant material.

Now where does he go from here? As a fan, I’d like to see Drake change it up a bit and we saw a glimmer of that on ‘Too Soon’ where he gave us raw emotion so I’m hoping that he explores this side of him a lot more when it comes to album number 4. But as for right now this album only further reinstates his position as one of rap’s heavyweights and after all these years of claiming he is the best and no one can touch him, this album acts as  proof of those claims.

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