‘Nothing Was The Same’ easy on the ears, heavy on the heart
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 22:09
Drizzy reopens emotional wounds – and lets listeners feel the sting – on his newest studio album, “Nothing Was The Same,” the long awaited body of work from the 26-year-old singer-rapper. Production comes from long-time collaborator Noah “40” Shebib, as well as mix-masters Jordan Evans, Boi-1da, and Sampha.
Drake sets a couple things straight on NWTS. First, he claims his spot (although he never lost it) in the rap game, disproving the critics and correcting anyone who assumes his media-enforced “softness.” Regardless of his defense, we know that this is Drizzy’s calling card: the sensitivity and in-his-feelings lyricism, two things nearly impossible to hide—whether listening to his 2009 “So Far Gone” mixtape or “Take Care” from 2011. He unloads his figurative “baggage” on listeners, whether we relate or not. This emotion-heavy consistency is what makes the rapper loveable, but at the same time vulnerable. Consequently, he feels the need to prove himself. (“Wu-Tang Forever,” “Started From The Bottom”). Although there are enough “heartbreak Drake” tracks for the melancholy, the album maintains a fast-slow-fast pattern that provides for both types of fans and satisfies the palates of each.
”I’m livin’ out here like I’m on my last adventure,” Drake opens, with his smug side taking center stage. In “Tuscan Leather” he raps a quick run-through of his most recent accomplishments; “This is nothin’ for the radio…but they’ll still play it though/Cause it’s that new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it go.” The song itself isn’t radio-ready, but because it’s a product from October’s Very Own, that’s enough to make it a success. 40 and his production shine on the track, providing a haunting, multi-phase beat that lays the foundation for Drizzy’s 6-minute reflection of where he’s been and where he’s going. He also acknowledges his losses and disconnections in the process, even referencing his label-mate: “Not even talkin’ to Nicki, communication is breakin’/I dropped the ball on some personal sh*t, I need to embrace it.” One’s thing’s clear: it’s not easy being Aubrey Graham.
Drake usually recalls past [and failed] relationships with women in cocky retrospect, but “Own It” is a delicate exception. “You’re still the one that I adore…not much out here to have feelings for,” he croons. This is clearly a female in her own league, accepting of all his fame and flaws ¬– and he advises her to “own it.” “Next time we talk, I don’t wanna just talk I wanna trust/Next time I stand tall I wanna be standing for you,” he reveals in the hook. If any track sponsors heartache and triggers painful reminiscence of one’s ex, it’s this.
A headstrong Drake resurfaces on “Worst Behavior,” the bass-heavy banger of the album. “I’m glad they chose us, cause man it’s a mission and we’re tryna fight to the finish”, he raps, speaking to his team. “Forever stuntin’ I’ll be immortalized/Yeah, back and forth across the borderline.” Jhené Aiko lends her sweet vocals on the next song, “From Time,” a song about long-distance and its often damaging effects on relationships—whether with family, friends, or significant others. “Hold On We’re Going Home” follows, the pre-released, 80s synths-packed track that’s already gone platinum.
Jay-Z makes an appearance on “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2,” the album’s closer. The song’s hook borrows from Wu-Tang’s classic, “C.R.E.A.M.” The song revolves around him and Jay’s shared, “self-made” state of mind, “My classmates, they went on to be chartered accountants, or work with their parents/But thinking back on how they treated me, my high school reunion might be worth an appearance,” Drake sums up. His life’s work has been music, and the final product success, something that’s, well, worthy of recognition.