More than just the Adele of the rap game, Drake‘s ability to convey both sensitive and egotism with an ear for solid bars with catchy hooks have made him one of the highest selling artists in the industry. In just 4 years, the actor turned unlikely rapper/singer has achieved more with just 3 albums than most artists accomplish in a lifetime in the industry- sold out shows, millions of records, Grammys, and topping the pop-charts. Now that Kanye West chooses to explore more of the indie sound with his latest release Yeezus, Drake has arguably become the game’s new unchallenged crossover star. With his latest release Nothing Was the Same, he returns to the style of spitting about relationships of the past and braggadocious rhymes but a little less formulated for radio acceptance.
Minus the obvious hits, ‘Started From the Bottom’, ‘All Me’, and ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, Nothing Was the Same is a more in-depth Drake album that further explores the upsides and downsides of fame on his personal relationships. On the opening ‘Tuscan Leather’, Aubrey takes a minute from crooning over hooks and choruses to deliver a straight rap that includes boasting and a mention of his short-live fallout with fellow labelmate Nicki Minaj. ‘Too Much’ ft Sampha of SBTRKT delves into the more personal and somber as Drake spits about the growth the fame affects family ties.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the same Aubrey without the signature songs about dysphoric reflections on past lovers over a slow jam beat. ‘Connect’ finds Aubrey speaking about a lover that is no good for the health but hard to turn away from (Rihanna?). ‘Furthest Thing’ is a apologetic track about neglecting an ex that finishes with a soulful Jake One sample. Drake steps into a type of musical roleplay on ‘From Time’ as he begins to seek out answers to why he hasn’t been able to sustain a lasting relationship, while the soulful Jhene Aiko croons as the emphatic voice of the ex.
Although nicknamed ‘Heartbreak Drake’, NWTS is not without the real rap tracks. After listening to his bars on the summer hit ‘Versace”, there is no denying that Drake can hold his own lyrically. ‘The Language’ follows the same quick flow from the designer-praising anthem. He may not be the best lyricist in the game, but he had enough bravado to go back and forth with legendary rapper Jay-Z on ‘Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2’. A cut that doesn’t have either emcee at the their best lyrical delivery about stunting but still is a solid effort. However, the ‘real rap’ is short lived on ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ as he tries to change the mood with slightly seductive vocals and suggestive rhymes.
For an artist that reached the top in such a short span of time, Nothing Was the Same seems to show signs of him slowing that momentum. This time around, Drake develops a signature sound and decides to trim down on the features for a more cohesive 13 track effort that incorporates more thought and self-reflection. There are the generic radio hits, like ‘Started from the Bottom’ and ‘Hold on We’re Going Home’, but the stand-out listens are the ones that are more narrative. He is not the best rapper, but he is not the worst. He is not the best singer, but he also can carry a note and make a catchy hook. Thanks to great production from Noah ’40’ Shebib, Drake definitely has his pop-rap niche down and can channel listeners into a certain mood with every hook and verse. His latest is an album that most would have to hear over-and-over again to let it fully grow on you, there is no denying the talent.