On September 24th, a month before his 27th birthday, Aubrey “Drake” Graham released his junior album titled Nothing Was the Same. This album had a distinct down-tempo and soft feel in comparison to his previous albums and mixtapes. Although the tempo is much different in respects to his previous works, the message seems constant. Nothing Was the Same seems to include all of the elements Drake possesses that make us love him and that has made his successful, so it makes sense the formula hasn’t changed. Drake is still someone who is still known for his sensitive records, while being able to hop the fence and still have those “traditional” boastful rap records. Nothing Was the Same seems to be a game of chess between arrogance and sensitivity, and with both sides making great moves it’s hard to choose a winner.
Outright and most obvious, Drake’s overall skill of rapping has taken great leaps and bounds from his first mixtape, Room For Improvement. It seems as if he has found his direction and established a direction in which he wants his work to go. His clarity of vision is apparent within his overall tone of delivery; which he uses a mature approach, relying on directness of storytelling, rather than relying heavily on expletives to orchestrate his point.
The lack of features throughout the album leads us to believe that Drake is very comfortable delivering all parts of his work, rather than depending on outside artists to help express his current state of mind. Its surprising however that Lil’ Wayne, his mentor, does not appear on the album because he has in some shape taken part in his last 4 album-length releases. I don’t necessarily disagree with Drake’s decision, because there seems to be no place for the rugged Wayne, on this cool down-tempo album.
Drake’s willingness to lay out his whole life in songs, and be totally introspective, holding little back is hard to miss throughout the album. The premise of the album overall is reflecting on the hearts that’s he’s broken over the years, the ties that he has severed and his hopefulness to build his future with someone, while addressing the problems that continue to arise due to his achieved status and simultaneously boasting and celebrating his successes, that’s so Drake.
“Too Much,” a song that discusses the difficulty of maintaining a “normal” life now that Drake is an “A-List” star, goes deeper than the traditional struggles of not being able to maintain privacy. Drake discusses the difficulty to remain close with friends, and even family. Discussing his mother’s battle living a life outside of her own home, not being able to sit down and have a family dinner, to his strained relations with his father. Its clear in this record that although Drake is grateful and content with his career and where he is directed, he feels some sort of disconnect with those who mean the most to him. Although many people have no idea what its like to be famous, or in any sort of public spotlight, Drake is able to make us understand his pains and troubles. This song sticks out because very rarely do artists discuss personal lives beyond personal possessions, like cars, jewelry, homes and women, but here Drake is able to portray the negative side of fame, and connect with his fans.
In the song “Started From the Bottom,” Drake cheers adamantly about his ability to come from “the bottom” of the ladder, to becoming a 26 year old man with the most number 1 hits on the Billboard charts. Of course, even if you do know Drake got his start on the Canadian soap opera Degrassi: The Next Generation, its hard not to celebrate with him, especially for those who have been a fan for years, we can understand his progression, trials and tribulations. The song also is inspirational because in some way, shape or form, we all “started from the bottom” somehow. Whether you’re a student in college who just landed a job, or you’ve grown up in less than ideal economic or social situations, we all can relate to achieving some sort of goal.
The amazing thing about Nothing Was the Same, is that it can take you from gloomy, self reflecting songs, to upbeat and celebratory songs, and this music trip, combined with deep lyricism and production value, continuing to work with Noah “40” Shebib, who has been a perfect match for drake going back to 2008, makes for one great album, which has timeless songs, and a bunch more that you can dedicate to members of the opposite sex, no matter which gender you are.