Album Review: Nothing Will Be The Same For Drake
Album- Nothing Was The Same
Guest Appearances- Jhené Aiko, Majid Jordan, Detail, Sampha, Jay Z
Producers- Noah ‘40’ Shebib, Boi-1da, Jake One, Mike Zombie, Detail, DJ Dahi, Chilly Gonzales, Nineteen 85, Mahid Jordan, Hudson Mohawke, Allen Ritter, Vinylz, Sampha
Record Label- OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records
Duration- 60 mins
Nothing Will Be The Same For Drake
Drake is in rarified air. He is the leader of the new school generation of rappers which includes Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big Sean, Wale, Tyler the Creator and others. He holds the record for most number one rap songs on the Billboard chart, 11. He won his first Grammy this year for his sophomore effort Take Care. With scene-stealing verses (French Montana’s ‘Pop That’, A$AP Rocky’s ‘Fxcking Problems’) Drizzy has continued to maintain his stronghold on the rap charts.
Drake might be the King of the new breed but he is a different type of king whose musical stylings border on the effeminate. Drake has come out on record to say that the late Aaliyah is his muse and inspiration. In a genre of music where the testosterone level is always on overdrive, Drake has more than survived with his brand of music, he is excelling at it.
His third album Nothing Was The Same drops on the heel of his latest singles, the posse cut and zero to hero anthem ‘Started From The Bottom’ and the 80’s influenced airy ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’. If you think Drake’s new LP would sound like his ratchet and insane verse on Migos’ ‘Versace’ summer single you are wrong. Tracks on Nothing Was The Same are very Toronto-like, very cold and spacious.
Emo-rap is Drake’s bread and butter but he starts off his third project fully rapping on Tuscan Leather- an extensive intro (6 minutes long) where he declares ‘it’s that new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it go/heavy airplay all day with no chorus.’ The zeitgeist of the new rap school is anti-radio and on NWTS there is not a single conventional radio single. ‘I’m tired of hearin’ ’bout who you checkin’ for now. Just give it time, we’ll see who’s still around a decade from now’ raps Drake on the song which reveals his desire to run away from composing average songs that will shorten his life span in the music industry.
Truthfully this is Drake’s most focused body of work since his groundbreaking mixtape So Far Gone. His debut album Thank Me Later failed to impress critics while his second album fizzled out at the latter end of the disc. Drake avoids the pitfalls of his former project by stripping himself of features that do not advance the theme of the album. On this album Drizzy has no time to charm you into liking him. There are no half measures or short cuts. Every song is a direct entrance into his dim, chilly world made up of his mum, strippers, ex-girlfriends and his pals that started with him from day one.
Boom bap and Toronto music clash on ‘Wu-Tang Forever’. Only Drake would have the nerve to sample Wu-Tang on a track about where he asks his women to give him all of their goodies. It’s a risk that works for the Canadian because his point of view comes from an honest place. Drake has never claimed to be gangsta or hardcore so when he flips a Wu-Tang record into a soundtrack for strippers you are not totally shocked, besides the rapping on the song is good. You might cringe when he croons but when he spits ‘Machine gun raps for all my niggas in the back/stadium packed, just glad to see the city on the map/I just gave the city life, it ain’t about who did it first/It’s ’bout who did it right, niggas lookin’ like ‘Preach’ you can’t but help but admire the ease in which he switches from singing to rapping.
The Wu-Tang referencing continues on the DJ Dahi produced ‘Worst Behaviour’ where Drake shouts ‘You owe me, you owe me/b*tch you better have my money when I come for that shit like O.D.B.’. Drake sounds angry on this track which is a rarity. He spits lines that he claims would leave his mother mortified. For the 90’s kids, Drake recites some of MA$E’s lyrics on ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’. Despite his fame and money, Drake sometimes get sick of it. ‘I did not sign up for this’ he confesses on ‘Too Much’ featuring Sampha. On this song he talks about how his fame and money has changed the way his family members treat him. This situation makes Drake pen his thoughts to his family members who are far from him mentally and physically. The OVOXO helmsman sings about how he is on the borderline of two opposite worlds on the beginning of ‘Furthest Thing’. ‘Somewhere between psychotic and iconic/somewhere between I want it and I got it/somewhere between I’m sober and I’m lifted/somewhere between a mistress and commitment’ reveals Drake before announcing on the hook that he likes doing things on the low on the Houston inspired track. Drake pays homage to Houston again on ‘Connect’ that features a sample from Houston rappers Trae and Fat Pat. ‘She just wanna run over my feelings/like she drinking and driving in an 18 wheeler’ he sings on the track. Drake isn’t scared to be vulnerable.
His mushy feelings rise to the surface on ‘Own It’ where sings to a love interest that he wants more than physical intimacy. ‘Next time we f*ck, I don’t wanna f*ck, I wanna make love/next time we talk, I don’t wanna just talk, I wanna trust/next time I stand tall I wanna be standin’ for you/And next time I spend I want it all to be for you‘ Critics of Drake would deride him for putting out such vulnerable lyrics. His fans will adore him for it. Drake is a polarizing figure in the world of Hip Hop and even if you can’t stand his effeminate nature you have to respect his music taste.
Drake’s gang of producers led by Noah ‘40’ Shebib creates a firm body of work that has allowed Drake explicitly express his thoughts. The sonic landscape they created made Drake to be bold and confident to put out an album not designed for radio but for his core fans. Production on the album is sparse, bouncy, gloomy, reflective and forward thinking.
Except for the pit falls ‘The Language’ and ‘305 To My City’, Drake has succeeded in creating an album that truly reflects where he is in life. From his emergence we’ve all known that Drake is a genius. With Nothing Was the Same he finally has a genius album befitting of his status.