Top 15 of 2013: #5 | Drake – Nothing Was The Same

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I originally wrote a mini review for Drake’s third album Nothing Was The Same almost immediately following its release in September and after a careful and precise couple of replays, I rated it with a mid 5 for mildly satisfactory to what could be viewed as strong complacency on behalf of the artist on this project. However, as I look back on this review, it was admittedly flawed in a few aspects, the most important being scorn of a branded craft. Drake does not have to go through too much evolving on each successive project that he releases because he knows what speaks to his fans the most and he is in no mood or position for fanciful diversions or plot twists; he leaves that to the other guys. He’d rather just tell you how it is, like it is and make a good record while doing it. However, where Take Care was an album with themes mostly pertaining to painful heartbreak, unyielding hurt and unrequited love, the emotion evoked on this album is sparked mostly by Drake’s self-conflict and examination on his relentless journey for a king-life status. This part of his journey has even earned itself the ownership a clever yet taunting action verb called “Draking”. To much commercial delight, the first single off the album titled “Started From The Bottom” is a catchy and straightforward track about the superstar’s rise to success, the celebration for him and those around him and a general PSA to haters worldwide, who still see him as that awkward teenager from DeGrassi who played a wheelchair victim. Lyrics such as “we just want the credit when it’s due, imma worry bout me, give a f**k about you ni**a” exemplifies the maturity of mindset that the star has developed over the years and his ability to ‘turn the other cheek’ per se. To a similar effect on the Wu-Tang Clan inspired track “Wu-Tang Forever”, the rapper explains “I just like the rush when you see your enemy somewhere in the club, and you realize he just not in a position to reciprocate your energy, you ain’t ever worried cause he’s not who he pretends to be”, to basically say that affirmations of these kind by individuals around him who continuously perpetrate only boost his ego and confirms for his position at the end of the day at the front of the line and heel in the competition. Other lyrically outstanding tracks on the album include “Worst Behavior”, a song where Drake reminiscences on people of the past who doubted his abilities and capacity to succeed, saying things like, “they used to never want to hear us…muthaf****s never loved us”. The track is a very emotional one, but not in the typical fluffy love story fashion that he usually put into his music but in a more aggravated and aggressive ‘you’re going to listen to what I’m saying right now’ type of way that we usually do not receive from the artist, which again reflects the previously mentioned themes of self-conflict. The production on this release is on point, to say the least, and represents the best use of instrumentation that the star has offered so far in his career. His friend and co-founder of label OVO, Noah “40” Shebib, produces a majority of the tracks on the album, providing the down-tempo and chill vibe that swept over many of the songs on the album, including tracks like “From Time” featuring Jhene Aiko and “Own It”, where Drake offers more of a sing vocal to match the tone. Also on the production bill are Boi-1da and the up-and-coming English singer-songwriter Sampha, who provides feature vocals on two of the album’s tracks. The flow of the album is somewhat similar to that of Take Care, specifically on the song “Furthest Thing”, providing a seamless and effortless beat switch-up reminiscent to that of “Cameras/Go Ones Go”. There is a wealthy amount of piano and the incorporations of small sub-bass kicks, specifically on tracks such as “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” featuring Jay Z, which also features a sample from another Wu-Tang song “C.R.E.A.M” and a looped sample vocal of Ellie Goulding that gives the song a smooth and layered feel as Drake and Jay-Z deliver their weighty, but calm bars over the top. There are still the melodic tracks that everyone can enjoy singing to such as “Hold, On We’re Going Home” and “Come Thru”. It seems that Drake had it all figured out yet again with the composition of this project and where are many fall victim to the sophomore slump, this artist continues to surprise us with the simplicity of being in his comfort zone. I chose this album as my number 5 because as a whole, I feel like the album was well crafted and did what Drake wanted it to do; it was not so much about growth or change of style, but continuing to create relateable and good music that reaches the masses.

Rating: 8.0/10

Best Song: Worst Behavior/Wu-Tang Forever

Best Production: Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 ft. Jay-Z

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