Drake – Nothing Was the Same – Album Review

PHOTO TAKEN by Taylor Copp

PHOTO TAKEN by Taylor Copp

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.

Are We Ready for Change? The Death of Brian Griffin

PHOTO COURTESY of FOX

Change? Change? Is change really a good thing? When I see someone homeless in the street begging for change, I seem burdened. I understand that it may be in good faith to help someone in his or her time of need, but I’m more interested in how they got there. What series of bad decisions did they make to resort to asking other people for money? So yeah, I’m scared of change. Change also has another meaning: the alteration or modification of something we’ve grown accustomed to. When I woke up this morning and found out about the death of one of America’s most beloved cartoon dogs, I almost lost it. So yeah, I’m afraid of change.

Brian Griffin, the canine star of Quahog, was fatally hit by a car and ultimately killed off of the animated hit series Family Guy. More often than not, when characters are killed off or leave shows, it causes a bit of a stir, but the death of Brain caused an uproar. I was bombarded with links on social media and classroom discussions about the death of Brain and I wonder, “why are we so surprised?”

Family Guy is one of the most absurd shows I’ve ever watched and it seems to play a tremendous role in its success after 11 seasons. So with that said, why is anyone shocked about the demise of Brain Griffin? According to E-Online’s interview with Steve Callaghan, executive producer of Family Guy, Brian’s death seemed “more in the realm of reality that a dog would get hit by a car, than if one of the kids died.” To me, when we start talking about “realm of realities,” I don’t necessarily buy that argument. Family Guy as a series, is outside the realm of reality. Did we forget that the first episode of Family Guy was of Stewie Griffin trying to kill his mother? Or that Brian was a dog, a talking dog, who was arguably one of the most intellectual characters on the show? I just don’t buy it.

For the most part, cartoons generally don’t seem to abide by realms of realities; which makes me wonder, why after 11 seasons did the producers start to care about the absurdity of a dog dying rather than another main character? I also have a problem with the way Brian died. In an episode where Brain owed Stewie money, Stewie torched Brain with a flamethrower, which didn’t kill him, but a car does? Maybe I’m being too cynical, but the chances of surviving a flamethrower attack seem lower than being hit by a car.

The decision to kill off Brian was a bold move though. As a society consuming media, everything seems so predictable. How often do we watch a movie or a show on television and know what’s going to happen next? It’s about time that something happens that shakes up the series; but as for seeing how effective the decision was, as far as ratings go, remains to be seen. Maybe it was Brian’s time to die. The average lifespan of a dog could range anywhere from 6-12 years, so in a practical world Brain’s time to live was coming to an end anyway. If that was the case however, why did Brain have to die violently?

Overall, I don’t know too many people who were happy with Brian’s fate. With people saying: “The dynamic of Brian and Stewie, or even Peter and Stewie are irreplaceable.” Even things like, “It should have been Meg,” makes me wonder how the future of Family Guy will play out. Callaghan stated that he’s not concerned about a backlash from the audience, …our fans are smart enough and have been loyal to our show for long enough, to know that they can trust us. We always make choices that always work to the greatest benefit of the series.” I do hope the creators of the show know what they’re doing, but I do agree with many others when I say, “It should have been Meg.”

Pointless Series: Life Without a Cellphone – The Inconvenience to Others

At this point in my experiment, I realize that living without a phone isn’t as hard as I anticipated. I am still able to communicate with the “important” people in my life, keep an active presence on social media as well as effectively managing my time. Although I seem extremely content with how I’m able to maintain my pseudo-connected lifestyle, it seems to be an inconvenience to others. Oh, the irony.

Wednesday, I attended a career fair, which was a networking event sponsored by my University. Needless to say, I shut the place down. I had on a fresh blue blazer, plenty of resumes and of course my beautiful smile, but I digress…

Sidebar: These career fair events can be a great opportunity for upcoming graduates to shop for potential employers while getting their name out, but without making a lasting impression could be totally useless.  

While talking to several potential employers at the fair, I received a mixed response about not having a cellphone. I explained myself by saying that most people can’t function in society without that piece of technology. I then asked thought-provoking questions like:

As a perspective employer, are you more willing to hire someone who is too deeply consumed in technology to be able to handle simple daily tasks, or someone who is able to disconnect from technology and be effective in the workplace?”

Furthermore, I pointed out how we’re supposed to be at a networking event, networking, but employers and students were still too busy on their phones most of the time. Decent impression I believe.

Communication representatives from companies like Comcast and Gannett found my new approach to life, “interesting” and “insightful,” while most representatives from financial companies considered it “impractical”. One representative even went on to say that most companies wouldn’t consider me for a job without a cellphone because it’s the primary way to contact perspective employers. Good to know, bummer.

I guess since employers can’t contact someone via cellphone, that deems them totally useless to the company. I also assume that any extra legwork is too difficult for these big companies; which makes me wonder if they actually check our social media profiles then… Gee I hope not.

Overall, I’m having fun without a phone. I think I’m not having too much trouble adjusting to this is because everyone else has a phone; so if I desperately needed a phone for any reason they’re easily accessible. I do recommend going a day without your phone, it’s surprisingly relaxing. Having a phone only causes stress, take a day and enjoy the freedom that you once used to have.

Pointless Series: Life Without a Cellphone

Totally Connected

Saturday night, or Sunday morning, however you look at it, I threw my phone out the window.

Symbolically, it represents liberation, but in reality it address addiction to a cellphone. So I decided to create my first installation the Pointless Series, after all, how pointless is this post?

A vast majority of people today have cellphones, and most people cant live without them. People walk and text, text at work or in school, and even put their lives on the line by texting and driving. When did we as a society stoop so low? Although we are constantly engaged in technology, its almost primal how we act in regards to it. We become one track minded, easily distracted and to some extent, less intelligent.

We  live in a 160 character or less generation now, and although people are able to express themselves in fewer words, there are so many other drawbacks. The death of traditional sentence structure, spelling, grammar and declined attention spans are all effects of the cellphone, and all of the apps that come along with it. I unfortunately am a victim of this, but its hard not to be, admittedly.

However, there are times when I generally need to contact people to let them know how I am, or what I am doing, more specifically my mother, since I am away at college. I also have no sense of time anymore. Although my car tells the time, and so do computers and …wait for it… analog clocks on the wall all have the same functionality, it’s much different than pulling out my iPhone every 5 minutes.

Music, one of my favorite capabilities of a phone, is something I have to live without. I can no longer just go ‘headphones in … world out …” now I’m forced to take note of the surrounding environment, I can get used to that again.

It almost feels like I’m reverting my life to middle school, the last known time in life where technology wasn’t pertinent in my life. However, I shouldn’t be so critical of technology, its allowing me to communicate with the world now isn’t it, and that’s a pretty awesome concept.

Moving forward lets see how this goes. I must admit, I am using my laptop to text, Facebook and tweet. It’s not total disconnectedness, but it isn’t a cellphone either.