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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Drake - Nothing Was the Same Review
Posted by Tony Acero on 09.24.2013

1. "Tuscan Leather"
2. "Furthest Thing"
3. "Started From The Bottom"
4. "Wu-Tang Forever"
5. "Own It"
6. "Worst Behaviour"
7. "From Time"
8. "Hold On, We're Going Home"
9. "Connect"
10. "The Language"
11. "305 To My City' Feat. Detail"
12. "Too Much"
13. "Pound Cake' Feat. Jay Z / Paris Morton Music 2"
14. “Come Thru”
15. “All Me”
16. “The Motions”

Before Drake's album Take Care, he was pronounced as the new face of hip hop. He had a unique sound and was backed by the -at the time - mixtape king and proverbial "can do no wrong" Lil Wayne. Voices everywhere could be heard saying that Drake was bringing something new to the table, and perhaps he did. In my review for Take Care, I had this to say:

Definitely not solid. If anything, this album is so contradictory. Drake is boasting about himself in one track only to tell us in the very next track that his music isn't anything about that only to follow THAT with slow production and fast raps that bring nothing to the table. Seriously, this album is confused as to what it wants to be.

It is now almost two years later from the sad state of an album that Drake left us, and the former Degrassi star has released an album boasting more of ego than pain and more rap than before, but is it worthy of the purchase? Well, if Thank Me Later was his birth, Take Care was very much his awkward teenage phase, leaving Nothing Was the Same to be the college years of ego as a mask moreso than anything.

Nothing Was the Same starts off with a 6+ minute track of Drake where he switches the beat more than once ala Kendrick and his North buddy, The Weeknd. It's a servicable intro to the album but seems tacked on at the last minute moreso than a conscientious decision to introduce us to the album. Immediately after with "Furthest Thing," we are back to the Drake we know and love (loathe) with the lamentable rapper crooning his own chorus in between raps that spell out a sadness only a rich person can feel. While that may seem like a jab, it's not exactly, because if anyone knows how to do this music, it's Drake.

Take Care was an 18-track box full of tissues made only for tears of females and guys that cry in their car en route from their exes, but in Nothing Was the Same, Drake seems to have found a much better balance where - at the very least, he doesn't seem to be pretending. Within the newest album, he has some of the sharpest lyrics ever spouted out by him, and although they don't hold much weight immediately after, during the listening, you're simply impressed. Take "Language" where he uses the short sentence bars to hit you with some cockiness that you can't resist nodding your head to, or "All Me" where my favorite version of Drake simply goes in. Drake brings up familial issues in "Too Much" and he comes off more real than I've ever heard him. Ever. Unfortunately, these moments are still too far in between moments of angst that turn into old hat very quickly. There are some tracks like "Own It" and "Connect" that seem like leftovers from Take Care with their soft approach. Truly, the only difference would be the addition of the completely unnecessary bass-filled background voice ala A$AP Rocky.

In terms of production, there really isn't much to complain about, particularly if you like darkness. In a sense, the album takes you into the corner of a dark room, but gives you a blanket and pillow rather than just letting you feel the pain ala Take Care and cry, forever, and ever. The divide of the album allows you to skip a track or two to get to something worth listening to rather than just a barrage of emo-rap that lent you closer to the bridge. The beats are welcoming and soothing, never over-bearing, and in some senses a callback to a time where music was just as important as the lyrics over them.

There are minimal guests, and although that's not a bad thing, I still feel he should give someone else a chance to croon while he raps instead of taking over the efforts on his own. 2Chainz, Big Sean and Jay-Z all lend a helping hand, but it's nothing to write too much about as they all rap just as you'd expect them to and don't overshadow or underplay either way. “Pound Cake” is a bit too long for my liking, but I’ll take a Jay-Z verse for fun any time I can get it. Although 2 Chainz is a caricature, he’s a fun one and I enjoyed his presence on “All Me.” Big Sean is just sort of there to close out the track, but as I said none of them overstay their welcome.

The biggest issue I had with Drake in his previous efforts is still apparent, even if the album is a more cohesive one. Simply put, Drake is still struggling with just what he wants his albums to be. Or perhaps it's the listener that is struggling with what they want the album to be. Either way, the lack of assurance is still within. While Nothing Was the Same has a much better balance of R&B and Hip Hop than his previous efforts, there is still something left to be desired. Drake gets introspective on this album moreso than before - a statement if there ever was one considering the content of the last album. It's interesting to note that when Drake goes off topic and speaks of different issues like his family or even the price of fame, it comes off way better than another song of his pining over a girl or spending money. Listening to a Drake song on its own isn't all that bad, but in terms of an entire album, it bounces from a "look at me" attitude to a "don't look at me" cry, and that just doesn't gel well. Luckily, Nothing Was the Same takes the formula Drake has created on his own and tweaks it just enough to be something worth listening to, even if just a little.

The 411: While the album is everything you would expect from Drake, there are a few added elements and a better balance to make the album the best of his yet. Although complementary, that doesn't necessarily make it a great album. Drake still struggles with leftover angst from whatever lamentable life he may has lived as a 26 year old millionaire, and at times, the album suffers for it.
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend


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