[Cosign Review] Drake: “Nothing Was The Same” | Album Review
Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” Album Review
Words By: Jay Wil of LFTU Radio @jaywilyall
Before I get started, I’d like to say that this is my first album review. I was asked by my good friends over at Cosign Magazine to write this, and I’m very appreciative of the opportunity. If it wasn’t for the great writers in this city, like Michael Felder, Vanessa Quilantan, Rodney Blu, and Lee Escobedo, I would not have proper inspiration to go off of. Now, my review.
I will first admit that I am a huge Drake fan, and that I’ve been listening since “Room for Improvement.” I even remember his Degrassi days (yes, I watched Degrassi). I’ve seen him grow from a little known mixtape rapper to possibly the biggest hip-hop artist in the game right now.
As soon as the opening track, “Tuscan Leather”, comes on, most of Drake’s most dedicated fans, and even his haters, get what we have all been asking for. Drake came out straight spittin’ on this track magnificently. He delivers boastful raps about his current place in the game, as well as introspective lyrics about his relationship with YMCMB label-mate Nicki Minaj (when he explains that their relationship is not as close as we all have known it to be in the past) over a very detailed beat that switches up around the sample 3 different times. The next few tracks sonically flow better than on his last album, “Take Care.” I personally always had an issue with how “Shot for Me” came right after the intro, “Over My Dead Body.” But I digress.
Although I enjoyed tracks like “Furthest Thing,” “Started from the Bottom,” and “Wu-Tang Forever,” the album doesn’t kick back into high gear again until we hit track 7, “From Time,” featuring Jhene Aiko. Aiko lends her vocals in a way that might remind us of her 2010 collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, “Growing Apart,” from his “O.verly D.edicated” project. Her vocal contributions, in both cases, completely take over the song, and are the most enjoyable thing about each, in my opinion. Her vocals add a very lush and subtle backdrop to Drizzy’s storytelling concerning his relationship with his parents, delivering lines like “We’ve been talking ’bout the future and time that we wasted. When he put that bottle down, girl that n—-‘s amazing,” and “My mother is 66 and her favorite line to hit me with is ‘Who the f— wants to be 70 and alone?’” Here you get Drake at his best as he gives a very in-depth look at his current family portrait.
Unfortunately, this is one of the few times on the album that we get close to what might really be on Drake’s mind. He then begins to name drop a few women of his past such as “Bria from Macy’s,” (shout out to SayBrea of Cosign Mag lol), and “Kourtney from Hooters,” though most of them have since moved on.
Next up, we get the second single from the album, “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” The song has been described by Drake as an attempt at a “Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones level collaboration,” with him and his right hand man/producer, Noah “40” Shebib, at the wheel. This is clearly a different take on music making for the pair. The result of this approach is a 70’s-inspired, disco-infused, experimental song that tugs at the heart strings.
We then get into a slow patch that makes me think back to “Take Care.” Once again, we have a few songs in a row that were very slow tempo and pretty much took me out of the album, even though they were all incredible songs. “Connect,” “The Language,” & “305 To My City” all follow one another in a very similar fashion that tends to be a bit boring (even though “305 To My City” was a standout track for me). To make matters worse, I felt as though these tracks could have easily been replaced by songs such as “Jodeci Freestyle” or “Girls Love Beyonce” which would have complimented the album more.
I’d have to say that my favorite track on this album is “Too Much,” featuring British vocalist Sampha. Sampha seems more and more likely to sign to Drake’s new OVO label soon, especially after his recent appearances on “The Motion” and on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, accompanying Drake live with this song. On this track, Drake is his most vulnerable (similar to past album cut collaboration featuring Alicia Keys, “Fireworks”), where he reveals that his uncle and mother are giving up on themselves and pretty much life in general. The song’s most jaw-dropping moment comes in the form of Drake angrily expressing to his family that he’s still the same person they grew to love as an adolescent.
Last, we get “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2,” where Drake and Jay Z himself share verses about their current places in the game. What’s expected of this matchup commences immediately, and Hov steals the show as if he had a chip on his shoulder. It’s almost as if he was trying to make up for taking that L from Kendrick on their “B—-, Don’t Kill My Vibe” remix. Drake then finishes off the track with the sequel to his take on Rick Ross’s “Aston Martin Music.” On “Paris Morton Music 2,” we get him catching us up on his relationship with the model, as well as reflecting on the idea of growing up & moving on in life. He also makes it plain to see that the nice guy who humbly wanted to be heard is now well aware of his abilities and knows that he is very much ahead of his class.
In my honest opinion, “Nothing Was the Same” is a very good album, but after multiple listens I have to say that this is nowhere near a classic. To add fuel to the fire, I’d say “Take Care” was a better album overall. We always seem to forget how momentous of an occasion he set forth with that album. He basically created a brand new sound that pushed boundaries and forced us all to look past relying on the radio. With jewels like “Free Spirit,” “Dreams Money Can Buy,” and “Club Paradise” (which didn’t even make the album), we get music that puts us in a different state of mind. It’s like we’re in a smoked out room with Drake himself, walking us through his current thoughts.
Though “Nothing Was the Same” is a smoother, better flowing album, where “Take Care” shines with its stand out tracks and originality. Also missing from this album is his constant approach of giving us every inch of his ups, downs, inner thoughts. and fears. With this album, you feel a sense of disconnect (with the exception of a few songs). I do appreciate the fact that he’s rapping a little more on this album, but certain songs on the newest album he ends up sounding like his contemporaries. You get Kendrick here and there, as well as Future, Rick Ross, French Montana & A$AP Rocky, which is ironic for a guy who claims on “5 AM in Toronto” that “every song sounds like Drake featuring Drake.” For him to truly be considered one of the greats, he must realize that the legends before him never had to sound like anyone else to succeed. That’s what separates these rappers from the greatest of all time.
On a lighter note, this album is definitely better than his debut “Thank Me Later.” That project was decent at best, but it felt as if it was nothing more than a disk full of singles. With that being said, I will say that Drake’s place as the head of the new generation is still intact. Kendrick Lamar is a close second, but to a certain degree it can be said that he will always be Nas to Drake’s Jigga. Kendrick, like Nas, will never compromise his content to satisfy the masses. In the long run, this could prevent him from breaking barriers Drake has already broken through these barriers with flying colors.
Personally, I only see Drake getting better from here. He’s very good at bringing light to current life situations, in a way that allows us to go through these situations with him. I also noticed how this album didn’t sound like any YMCMB influence had a hand in the making. In my opinion, that’s exactly what needed to happen. Drake is a star in his own right, so being under someone else’s brand is counterproductive. It can also be debated the Drake has surpassed Lil’ Wayne in talent, as well as status. We are getting a glimpse into what seems to be the future for the Canada- born MC. He just needs to find a way to bring us back into his world, because on this album he tends to take us out of it. Let’s hope that his next album can bring that back.
4 out of 5 stars