Nothing Was the Same (OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)
In the two years since Drake released 2011’s Take Care, the Toronto hip-hop figurehead has gotten into a highly publicized nightclub brawl with Chris Brown, faced a lawsuit from an alleged ex-girlfriend over a songwriting credit, and denounced a tattoo artist who inked “DRAKE” onto a woman’s forehead. In other words, it’s been a tumultuous time for the former Degrassi star, and perhaps that’s why he sounds so conflicted about stardom on Nothing Was the Same.
He doesn’t waste any time reminding listeners just how insanely successful he is, beginning opening cut “Tuscan Leather” by bragging: “Coming off the last record, I’m getting 20 million off the record.” Later in the track, he compares himself favourably to Lil Wayne, claiming, “I’m just as famous as my mentor.”
There are boasts peppered throughout the album, but does Drake really believe his own hype? When not gloating about his fame, he spends much of the collection preoccupied with loneliness, lost love, and two-faced friends, dropping downcast rhymes over sparse beats and darkly atmospheric synths. Most arresting of all is “From Time”, which has singer Jhené Aiko playing Drake’s romantic foil as the rapper muses about his career and decides, “I want to get back to when I was that kid in the basement/I want to take it deeper than money, pussy, vacation.”
Considering that Nothing Was the Same finds Drizzy further perfecting his introspective sound, the album will likely ensure that his reign as Canada’s rap king continues for the foreseeable future. This probably won’t be a good thing as far as his emotional well-being is concerned, but we’ll doubtless hear all about that on the next record.