Editor’s note: This review was written by Bryan Dupont-Gray in cooperation with The Daily Cougar.
There was never an artist who could excel in the highest fashion by using a mashup of R&B and rap music as Aubrey “Drake” Graham has. However, as we have seen in Drake’s albums “Thank Me Later” and “Take Care,” much of that talent comes with a bevy of struggle and disconnection.
Compounded with Wu-Tang Clan-inspired production from the likes of Noah “40″ Shebib, Mike Zombie and DJ Dahi, Drake sounded a lot meaner this time around in “Nothing Was the Same.” His trademark combination of slow, Kleenex-worthy R&B jingles and rap sounded better than it did in his previous two efforts.
In “Nothing Was the Same,” Drake sports a dark, introspective take on how he has adjusted to his fame. However, the theme of the album gives us the notion that he is coming to terms with fame. Throughout much of this 16-track adventure, Drake is acknowledging that his wealth is breaking his family apart. Relationship issues for the heartbreaker playboy are on the rise as well, and Drake isn’t shy about tooting his own horn about his stance on the rap game.
The album’s intro track, “Tuscan Leather,” showcases his “fed up” mindset while dishing out his strongest verses on the forefront. Here, we get a great feel for the rest of the album and his attitude toward his success.
Songs like “Started From the Bottom” and “The Language” reinforce the attitude that was missing in his first two albums, with the former evolving to become a rags-to-riches anthem. The latter makes statements about the possibilities that come with wealth, such as flying different women out to shows and having an off-shore bank account in the islands.
“Worst Behavior” is the meanest out of the three attitude-jammed tracks, as Drake fires repetitive shots at those who have “never loved” him, punctuating his success without those who have dissed him the past. DJ Dahi — who produced a few tracks for Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid Maad City” — throws in an electric, semi-futuristic beat that bangs hard and meshes well with Drake’s triumphant screaming, making it one of the most powerful songs on “Nothing Was the Same.”
But what would a Drake album be without the sentimental R&B flavor? There’s plenty of that element here to help carry his message across. Drake claims to feel like the fame is overbearing, but at the same time, he’s at a point in his career where he finds that it comes with the territory and he has adjusted to that. His disconnection with women and the well-being of his family seems to be ailing him, though, as evident in “Furthest Thing” and “From Time,” the latter of which features serene vocals from Jhene Aiko.
Along with a verse about having a conversation with his father, Drake’s inclusion of lines like “My mother is 66 and her favorite line to hit me with is / Who wants to be 70 and alone?” rings true to his love for his kin.
“Too Much” hits the nail on the head and is possibly the best song on “Nothing Was The Same.” With some deep, metaphorical homage to Houston, Drake goes back to where and how he started — from the call from Lil Wayne to selling out a show for the first time at Warehouse Live, something that he now says he could “probably pack it for twenty nights” if he wanted. Along with having unspeakable issues with those close to him, Drake is a perfectionist and remains worried about staying on top, but Sampha’s chorus reassures him that he doesn’t have to dwell on that too much. The album is not without faults, however.
“Wu-Tang Forever” and “305 to My City” are boring and annoying. It’s understandable that Drake has an affinity for strippers, while wanting to keep a constant reminder to those who allegedly have his heart, but tracks like these are what cause the disjointedness of the album. They don’t tie particularly well to the theme, and when they do, the attempt is still poorly done. The track “Own it” also suffers from this debacle — the singing seems lazy and there’s no relatable feeling resonating in the lyrics.
“Nothing Was the Same” excels well in its thematic structure, and it’s now crystal clear that Drake is starting to go with the flow as opposed to crying about not being able to cope with the woes of being a public figure. With a few throwaway songs, the album does lack depth, but it still holds together pretty firmly.
With a huge sign of maturity, Drake is holding his own lane in the rap game — it’s hard for rap artists to be both genuinely relatable and also able to push out deep and hard-hitting verses. “Nothing Was the Same” is Drake’s best work in that regard.
This article was originally published by The Daily Cougar and written by Bryan Dupont-Gray, who is also a DJ for Coog Radio.
BY: Bryan Dupont-Gray