Drake & Nothing Was The Same


To say the least it’s been a great last few years for Drake. Whether its been the Awards and nominations recognizing his Studio albums or his chart topping singles, he’s gone from being the man next to the man at Cash Money Records to the man. On his latest offering, “Nothing Was the Same” Drake continues his evolution as an artist by sharpening his ability to mash together R&B and rap all by his lonesome. Now we could go on all day about the commercial aspect of Drake sales, radio spins, appearances on Billboard, media exposure etc etc, However we don’t do that here, it’s all about the music, so let’s get right to it.

Drake starts off incredibly strong, with the opening track “Tuscan Leather”, which is arguably the best pure hip-hop track on the entire album. What makes the track a standout? well, producer Noah “40” Shebib’s production on the track is flawless.  For those familiar with the production credits of producers Dj Paul and Juicy J of three Six Mafia, they will commonly rearrange or switch up an entire beat midway or after each of their artists verses. On “Tuscan Leather” Noah 40 follows suit here, where all three of Drake’s verses break off into three separate dope beats, which all flow seamlessly together and match Drakes patent flow. On this song it’s very evident that Drake is letting the world know he’s aware of the blogosphere disses and the supposed up and coming artists ready to knock him down the totem pole.

On the opening track Drake raps…

“Tell me who dissin’, I got some things that’ll hit the culprit
Them strep throat flows, them shits to stop all of the talkin’
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 
Born a perfectionist, guess that makes me a bit obsessive
That shit I heard from you lately really relieved some pressure 
Like aye, B I got your CD, you get an E for effort
I piece letters together and get to talkin’ reckless 
Owl chains like credentials, you know you see the necklace 
My life’s a completed checklist
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 
That’s real”

One of the most underrated but unconsciously appreciated aspects of any album is the musics sequencing. The sequencing of an album can either subtly bring down or elevate the listening experience for a fan, and placing too many tracks in the wrong order can determine the difference between an album feeling like your everyday mixtape of good songs just thrown together for consumption or a carefully crafted studio album that’s in harmony with the overall flow of music and concept. Appropriate sequencing also isn’t just simply about putting songs in “order”, but also not including songs on an album that don’t sound forced. As if to tell the world, “Hey guys these songs really don’t  mesh with the overall album but i threw them on here anyway because it would get me some radio play”, or in a vacuum its a HOT song. When you hear an artist tell the public that xyz song didn’t make an album because, “it just didn’t fit”, there basically letting us know that even though people may like the song, the track wasn’t in harmony with the overall vibe or concept of that particular album. Out of all three of Drake’s Studio albums, “Nothing Was The Same” achieves that balance the best in an exceptionally fashion. Sonically from start to finish the album feels like one big rollercoaster ride of relationship make-ups to break-ups, emotion, vulnerability, and honesty. Two of the standout tracks that display these themes are “From Time” and “Too Much”.

On “From Time” the combination of producers Chilly Gonzales and Noah “40” along Jhene Aiko’s vocals on the hook provide a perfect back drop for Drake, where he raps…

“Thinking ’bout Texas, back when Porscha used to work at Treasures
Or further back than that, before I had the Houston leverage
When I got Summer a Michael Kors with my momma’s debit 
A weak attempt at flexing, I’ll never forget it
Cause that night I played her three songs
Then we got to talking ’bout something we disagreed on
Then she start telling me how I’ll never be as big as Trey Songz
Boy was she wrong, that was just negative energy for me to feed off
Now its therapeutic blowing money in the Galleria
Or Beverly Center Macy’s where I discovered Bria
Landmarks of the muses that inspired the music
When I could tell it was sincere without tryna prove it 
The one that I needed was Courtney from Hooters on Peachtree 
I’ve always been feeling like she was the piece to complete me
Now she engaged to be married, what’s the rush on commitment?
Know we were going through some shit, name a couple that isn’t
member our talk in the parking lot at the Ritz
Girl I felt like we had it all planned out, I guess I fucked up the vision 
Learning the true consequences of my selfish decisions
When you find out how I’m living, I just hope I’m forgiven 
It seem like you don’t want this love anymore
I’m acting out in the open, it’s hard for you to ignore
But girl, what qualities was I looking for before?
Who you settling for? Who better for you than the boy, huh?”

Assisted by the classic Sampha hook, on “Too Much” Drake raps…

“Someone go tell Noel to get the Backwoods
Money got my whole family going backwards
No dinners, no holidays, no nothin’
There’s issues at hand that we’re not discussin’
I did not sign up for this
My uncle used to have all these things on his bucket list
And now he’s actin’ like, “Oh, well, this is life, I guess,” Nah, fuck that shit
Listen man, you can still do what you wanna do, you gotta trust that shit
Heard once that in dire times when you need a sign, that’s when they appear
Guess since my text message didn’t resonate, I’ll just say it here
Hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment, telling herself
That she’s too sick to get dressed up and go do shit, like that’s true shit
And all my family from the M-Town that I’ve been ’round, started treating me like I’m “him” now
Like we don’t know each other, we ain’t grow together, we just friends now
Shit got me feeling pinned down, pick the pen up or put the pen down
I’m writing to you from a distance like a pen pal, but we’ve been down”

From a hip-hop perspective by the time you finish the dope close out track “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” Featuring Jayz, you get the feeling of whether or not you just experienced a rap album or an R&B album that just happened to have more rap verses than usual. Depending on who you ask, some don’t even consider Drake a full fledge rapper, or his music necessarily isn’t rap. Good or bad some feel his music is in alignment with the new era and direction of  hip-hop. Some feel its “Emo” music and he sounds too emotional or soft on his album. Some say, “Hey man he’s dope, i just wish he would stop singing”, or the other end of the spectrum of “I love when he meshes the rapping and the singing. he’s like a male Lauren Hill“. So is “Nothing Was The Same” a pure rap album? maybe? maybe not? and should it be viewed in a separate sub-genre of rap? Maybe, maybe not. Are there aspects of the album that may feel a bit too sappy for the average rap fan? maybe, maybe not, all that is for the masses to decide. So Whether it’s the soulful “Hold On, We’re Going Home”; the personal “Too Much”, the melodic “Connect” or the honest “From Time”, at the end of the day its simply good music.    ~HaitianJack

Scores: Nothing Was The Same   (Released 2013)

Bars:  L     Beats:  XL     Music:  XXL      Report Card:  B+