Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: Island
“My junior and senior will only get meaner,” promised Aubrey Graham on his last effort, the phenomenal Take Care, an album that was so good at making you love it while hating yourself for listening to it. Indeed, the question remained: could Drake outdo himself and make an album as insular and bitter as Take Care? The answer is yes and no. On his new effort, Nothing Was The Same, Drake is mean, he’s depressed, but he wants to show you some love.
"Really I think I like who I'm becoming," Drake told us cautiously on his second album Take Care. On its followup Nothing Was the Same, he's thought about it some more."Prince Akeem, they throw flowers at my feet, nigga!" he screams. "I could go an hour on this beat, nigga!" The song, "Tuscan Leather", which opens the record, is six full minutes long with no chorus, a point Drake is eager for us to absorb: "This is nothing for the radio/ But they'll still play it though/ Cuz it's the new Drizzy Drake, that's just the way it go." The Drake Era has ended; welcome to the Drake Regime.
“I’ve never been part of a year when so many legends are dropping projects,” Drake lamented in a recent XXL cover story. “How am I going to be seen?” The half-jewish, half-African American MC is not only aware of his competition, he’s out-and-out scared of them. And who wouldn’t be? With Kanye West proclaiming himself “the Steve Jobs of culture,” and Jay Z rolling with multi-billion dollar media conglomerates, that’d be enough to make a sane rapper recede back into the shadows to brood.
On Thank Me Later and Take Care, Drake struggled to reconcile his old life and relationships with his new found fame. That’s still largely the theme of his new album, Nothing Was the Same, but the tone is no longer so wounded or conflicted. Drake sounds like he’s finally found his footing in his new life. The title refers to the change that fame brought to Drake’s circumstances, but the lyrical theme of the album is that he himself is the one thing that’s still the same.
People of a certain temperament do not like Drake. First there’s the issue of his upbringing. The MC grew up in the tony Forest Hill district of Toronto and, for a spell, played heart-of-gold paraplegic Jimmy Brooks on teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation. Then there are his aesthetic choices—the average Drake video is one long, pensive aerial shot of some metropolitan skyline.
Started from the bottom now we here: much has been made of the bottom, and I’d been an arse to discuss it further, but where exactly is the here? A Best Rap Album Grammy for 2011's Take Care, two platinum selling albums, the record number of No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart with fourteen, and similarly as a rap artist, the most No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with 11.
Of all the big pop stars, and he is certainly one, Drake does the best job of being all things to all men. He's a rapper and singer, a pedlar of both braggadoccio and melancholy, boy next door and baller, lover and womaniser, dork and hunk, Jewish and black. Fans find what they like in Drake, but his bundle of contrasts also seems authentic and, as a result, charismatic.
When Drake materialized in 2009, he was more than a bit of a novelty, a former Canadian child star experimenting with a sensitive, diaristic approach to hip-hop, spilling out his many concerns over dense, opaque beats. Four years later, he's one of the genre's biggest names, despite a marked lack of specific ability beyond a great ear for production and an inveterate, introspective charm. The passage to this point has been marked by a gradual transition toward hardness, following a series of public battles with Chris Brown, a bulking up in muscle and content.
Sadness has been a booming business for Drake. Between his breakout mixtape So Far Gone and his Grammy-winning album Take Care, the Toronto native’s innate ability to embrace his emotive side—and pen catchy, quotable pop raps—have earned him critical acclaim, millions of records sold, and a spot among Rap’s elite in a relatively short amount of time. After a steady buildup through 2013, Drake returns with Nothing Was The Same, a record that tempers his usual dysphoria with some appreciation for where it’s taken him.
"How much time is this nigga spendin' on the intro?" Drake asks on Tuscan Leather, the opening track on his third studio album, Nothing Was The Same. Over six minutes, in fact, every one of them worth it, as Toronto's very own spins lyrical webs, manipulates the hell out of a Whitney Houston sample and provides us with a four-part blueprint for the solid bars, sharp yet seamless tempo changes and you-fancy-huh production that follow. Lyrically, Drake's on his game for NWTS's entirety, whether he's reinventing a Mo Money Mo Problems verse, spewing literal T.O.
Earlier this fall, Drake released a moody, downtempo jam called "Wu-Tang Forever," hoping to build anticipation for his third LP. Instead, a sizable contingent of rap traditionalists were outraged. That's because "Wu-Tang Forever," despite featuring a ghostly snippet of the Wu-Tang Clan's 1997 single "It's Yourz," sounds nothing like the Clan – it's a heartfelt requiem for a girl he used to know.
Review Summary: The Drake DelusionI've spent a long time trying to resolve the upfront and striking schism that exists in Drake's psyche. On one hand he exudes this repressed and almost infantile emotional fragility that, when taken at face value, extends out a hand to the lovelorn and the heavy-hearted. It's almost comforting when combined with the pensive minimalism of his producer/collaborator Noah Shebib's musical backdrop.
Nothing Was the Same might just be the closest we’ll ever get to listening to Charlie Brown take a victory lap. When I reviewed Drake’s sophomore album - Take Care - two years ago, I took some flack for asserting that it was the first time a rap album had been “beautiful”. I admit that my word choice was wrong, but I suppose the discussion concerning Drake’s repeated Wu-Tang namedrops, references, and of course “Wu-Tang Forever” on this album allows me to try again.
Drake :: Nothing Was the SameCash Money RecordsAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaAfter the epic "Take Care" - which spawned countless singles, mottos, hashtags, memes and probably babies - his third album title makes another bold statement in a similar vein to his debut, this time declaring that "Nothing Was the Same". In reality, it ends up being more a case of "Same Same But Different". Similar formula, different structure.
I think it was Rakim or someone who said that form should match content, and so this review of Drake’s Nothing Was The Same is going to be just as irreducibly convoluted as Drake’s rap persona, and just as long and difficult to digest as one of his albums. Also accordingly, at times you might hate this review, thinking it self-obsessed, corny, and ultimately a waste of time, but like the album, it will slowly change your mind with an utter, naive devotion to its admittedly singular craft, with an atypically total sense of self-awareness and a starry-eyed, endearingly obvious desire to win you over. In highly pretentious music criticism and in rap music alike, especially in the cases of mainstream rap superstars and unpaid, embittered former liberal arts students, art is ego.
After an EP and two albums that firmly established his moody, introspective style and made him a huge star, Drake's third album, Nothing Was the Same, isn't a huge departure but it does take some steps in new directions. Built around sped-up samples and Wu-Tang-inspired, spooky loops, the production retains the same basic style, but is a little deeper and more foreboding. Provided mostly by longtime collaborator Noah "40" Shebib, the backing is suitably melancholic and claustrophobic enough to match Drake's main lyrical themes of angry boasting, dealing with a broken heart, and being disillusioned by the lifestyle his fame has brought him.
Rap and hip-hop are full of coronations, from perceived kings to classic albums to legendary beefs. Even lesser achievements tend to arrive with grand language. Diddy, always attuned to opportunities to make “history”, recently introduced his new “fitness and wellness water” brand with the gem of a sentence, “I am looking forward to making history in the process.” Far less common is the acknowledgement that making history is not necessarily a good thing.
At his rawest, which is to say his best, Drake cuts close to the bone. His songs are in your face, meant to get under your skin by expressing exactly what he’s feeling. He does not sugarcoat. He can make you uncomfortable, avert your eyes as if you’ve been caught eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation.
Drake is ready to tell his story again. In the beginning of his career, the rapper/singer/actor was on the verge of rap stardom off the foundation he built from 2009’s So Far Gone, and he returned to the topic of fame again and again, seemingly obsessed with finding his place in the rap world. Two albums later, the 26-year-old Toronto native leaves little room for debate: Like it or not, he’s the new voice of a generation with a mission to stay ahead of the curve.
If it's true, as some have suggested, that rapper and singer Drake is the musical voice of his generation, one statistic on his new album is instructive: Through 13 tracks over the course of an hour, the platinum rapper mentions himself nearly 500 times. This third volume, called "Nothing Was the Same," sees the Toronto hip-hop superstar, 26, offering thoughts on his day-to-day, the spoils of his riches, his girls and his bitches (but seldom his ladies or women), his dad, his mom, his success and his isolation. This is a modal window.
opinion byDREW MALMUTH A Jewish kid from an upper-middle class area of a North American city has an awkward phase and then becomes a child actor. The show has a cult following and the kid is relatively famous. After leaving the show the now young man starts a musical career, surrounds himself with talent, and becomes a success. Girls tattoo his name on their forehead.
Let it be known that the Tough Drake era begins not this week, with the release of “Nothing Was the Same,” the first official Tough Drake album, but rather began all the way back on Jan. 6, 2012. That day saw the release of the video for “Stay Schemin,” a Rick Ross song featuring Drake and French Montana. The clip is a fuzzy Michael Mann rip-off, nighttime Miami reduced to blacks, grays and electric blues, oozing sinister energy.