DAR Hip Hop: Drake's Nothing Was The Same

By @_N8te

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

It feels like just yesterday when the DAR organization did a roundtable in review of the year 2013. It’s strange to many fans to hear someone like the year 2013 in hip hop. It was average at best, and our usual big names dropped some projects. A$AP’s “Long Live A$AP”, Kanye West's “Yeezus”, J. Cole (Born Sinner), and Tyler The Creator (Wolf) were all average projects at best. However, when it’s OVO Season, everyone swivels their head to Drake. After 2011’s critically acclaimed "Take Care” was birthed into existence, a lot of people questioned how could Drake follow up with an album that seemed early on to be his zenith? The Canadian rapper/singer then created "Nothing Was The Same" in 2013. The endless debate of which album is Drake’s magnum opus continues to this very day, and the two albums that are always top two would be Take Care and Nothing Was the Same. Which one do I personally think is his magnum opus? I prefer Nothing Was the Same, but let me explain why as we go track-track on the Album of the Year contender in 2013.

Before we get into the album, let’s discuss about the artwork. As minimalistic as it seems, this is Drake’s best cover art in his discography, no questions asked. The comparisons of this project’s artwork has been compared to Nas' s Illmatic, B.I.G's Ready to Die, and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III. The two sides of Drake as both covers are oil-painted profiles of his childhood and adult self. His childhood side with the baby-face and afro, while his adult self is his present-day in this year with the gold chain laid peacefully at his neck. The background is also not eye-popping with nothing but just a blissful blue sky. Now, let’s progress track by track now that we have covered the abstract.

“Tuscan Leather” is intensifying, point blank. Out of all the opening tracks Drake has on his projects, Tuscan Leather is my all-time favorite from the OVO Captain. A cinematic opening of a Whitney Houston sample flipped three times from his producer 40. I compliment 40 for such a dope beat, because the flips in the beat throughout the track is excellent. Drake opens up with sheer confidence. His lyricism is compressed into one rhyme scheme throughout the track and he never wanders away. Drake’s wordplay discusses that he’s aware of his greatness and he throws it at you because he spends six minutes on this track, which can be an eternity to some. We get the point of his confidence and transition into the smooth “Furthest Thing”. In this second track, we see the two sides of the rapper/singer Drake. Drake goes into his inner demons and reveals his unfaithful self. In his wordplay, he discusses about his issues with drinking, smoking, and other real world issues in his life. He wants to satisfy his woman, but he’s the furthest thing from being perfect. Due to his young and reckless self, he feels like he’s losing the woman he loves so much, because she’s fading away out of his life. Every time he tries to make it up, she goes back to him, but Drake needs to realize that everyone has a breaking point. Once you cross that line, you can kiss her goodbye.

“Started From The Bottom” is the mainstream checker on this album. We flip back into the boastful track about how he started from the bottom, and everyone that supported him and stuck with him at the bottom is now at the top with him. He delivers some subtle checks at his doubters with the lines:

“Nigga, we just want the credit when it’s due/ 
Imma worry about me give a fuck about you/” 

“Say I never struggled, wasn’t hungry, yeah I doubt it” 

Of course the chorus is what everyone else sings out loud, but instead of saying it for fun, Drake actually meant what he said. When we want to achieve our dreams, and we put it into action, we will have people who put us down and don’t give credit even when you already made it. It’s okay, because Drake is influencing us to still be ourselves and ignore the naysayers. “Wu-Tang Forever” connects Drake with his love for the game and his girl as well. Personally, I never got into this track when it dropped and I still don’t to this day. It feels elongated and just bland overall. The track discusses lust and what you truly love is yours, because nobody else can have it. In this case, this is the rap game and Drake looks back from when he first started, and he knew from the very beginning that the game was his throne, and he needed to do whatever it takes to sit on top of the game.

“Own It” connects with “Wu-Tang Forever”. I personally enjoy the latter half of this “one track”. Drake now transitions from his passion in the rap game to his girl. PartyNextDoor joins in on the chorus repeatedly emphasizing to “own it”. Drake gets intimate about wanting to make love, that he adores his girl, and that they aren’t a secret to everyone else. A R&B/Trap Soul type of beat adds to the intensity of his burning desire of love with his girl. The never ending ping pong match of the soft-spoken Drake and his flamboyant self continue with “Worst Behavior” and contains the best of Drake from the rap spectrum. His arrogance comes through as a storm as he claims these motherfuckers never loved us. This song is for all the fake people who never truly loved us, but we loved them. Screw the fake people that we have been dealing for years, and who told us that we’d never make it. However, jokes on them because now we are on our Worst Behavior to be great, and Drake will do anything to get his. Drake absolutely sounds comfortable on this track. His ode to the haters is extended in segments throughout this album. Drake’s flow is wavy, with pinpoint execution that has you bumping to him regardless if you're a fan or not. “From Time” involves Drake teaming up with the lovely Jhene Aiko. I really didn’t like this track as it’s just too slow for me to grasp.

“Hold On, We’re Going Home” is another fan favorite on this album. That mesmerizing chorus by Drake excites everyone. This song is perfect for those road trips with your girl. If it’s a girls' night out, you know for sure this will be on their Snapchat story as you watch from your smartphone. Reiteration of the chorus and pre-chorus is 95% of the song until Majid comes in on the interlude that breaks it down just a tad bit. As we continue, we move onto “Connect”, and Drake reveals the rollercoaster of his on and off relationship with this girl. As he waltzes through the relationship, he's “swanging” for the fences to keep the relationship intact. No matter how bad the relationship progresses, Drake is always there to pick up the million pieces (his heart) to make it work out again. Drake also puts up with the woman he loves even when she’s “running over his feelings like she’s drinking and driving in an 18 wheeler”. This has a great chorus, but some of the lines are a bit bland. At some point, the wordplay can be a nod in the positive direction, but back to back repetition causes some bland sections of various lines in this track, and even in the whole album. A love song that describes the low parts of a relationship, and is interesting.

After we connect through the relationship going on, we move towards “The Language”. Drake brings out the braggadocio rap in himself and preaches it out for everyone to hear him. Drake’s wordplay involves his bank account and it looks like he is set for life, to his records going platinum, to killing the hype of these up and coming rappers. Drake even brags about your girl being with him for three days straight and he demands you to come get her. This track overall is average/mediocre as I felt “Started From the Bottom” proved his point. Moving on to “305 To My City”, this is the worst song on the album. I can’t seem to grasp the overall meaning of this track to this day. I don’t know if he’s congratulating a stripper or what, because that’s what I grabbed out of this track. It’s as if he’s trying to grab a bit of Cudi’s style but infuse it into his style. Whatever is the meaning of this track, it’s probably one of Drake’s worst songs in my opinion. After listening to two disastrous tracks, we move onto “Too Much” which is one of my favorites on this album. The beat is banging, and Drake goes personal into this track. Drake summarizes the anxiety that he had to overcome to being the best in the game, and his fans and family that he has to deal with. Sampha on the chorus probably illustrates Drake’s subconscious as he overthinks his life, and Sampha is there as his subconscious to just relax and don’t rush things through. Drake goes back into what he does best, sung vocals in a rhyme scheme that flows efficiently with the track and the emotion that Drake puts into this track is one of his best moments on this album as well.

After that beautiful track, we progress down the final third of this album. We stop and digest “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” where he features Jay Z on this track. What better chorus can you have than a sample of “C.R.E.A.M” from the Wu-Tang for this song? Drake steps up to the plate and delivers a reality check. Drake delivers a great verse that incorporates that he’s taken out the wack rappers in the game, and that he has the cards that’ll guide him to success. Jay Z comes in on two verses, and I’ll take the first verse he spits over the second one. The second one, come on Jay, really?

“Niggas is frontin’ that’s an upside-down cake/
Get ‘em a red nose, they clown cakes/
They should’ve never let you ‘round cake/
Look at my neck, I got a karat cake/” 

What is this? I can’t even give this a pass, this is a lame series of bars and his second verse is not even on par. Drake closes out with an average verse as the beat switches. “Come Thru” is my favorite song on the album hands down. Drake reminisces about this girl in the 6 and all the great times they had when they were together. 40 delivers one of the best beats on the album in my opinion as well. Drake delivers a solid verse, but what drives everyone crazy on this track is that suave outro with the thumping sub bass, and faint ad-libs

"Why has it been so long? Why has it been so long?
Why has it been? (Why has it been so long?) Why has it been?
Who you been crying to? (Why has it been so long?) Who you been flying to?
Who's bed are you sleeping in? (Why has it been so long?) Someone's been hiding you
(Why has it been so long?) Where have you been?
(Why has it been so long?) You deserve rounds tonight, come thru girl you deserve rounds tonight
(Why has it been so long?) Come thru girl you deserve rounds tonight
(Why has it been so long?) Come thru girl you deserve rounds tonight
(Why has it been so long?) Rounds tonight oh, come thru girl you deserve rounds tonight
(Why has it been so long?) Come thru girl you deserve rounds tonight
(Why has it been so long?) Come thru girl you deserve rounds tonight"

We close out NWTS with “All Me” with 2 Chainz and Big Sean, and the three artists just poke fun on this track. 2 Chainz comes to the plate comparing how he bought a T-shirt that is the same price as a Benz car note. Drake arrives with the second verse boasting about his fame, glitz, and glamorous life. At this point in the track, Drake clearly wins until Sean interrupts with
“Hoe Shut the Fuck Up” which I heard was just fun and games in the studio until it sparked a verse. Big Sean uses his trademark dragged out lyricism and interesting metaphors and similes as his foundation. His verse is in fact surprising and was a great verse altogether.

Nothing Was The Same was a great follow up after a groundbreaking Take Care that propelled Drake to where he is today. Just when people were counting Drake out before Take Care, he delivered a phenomenal album in Take Care and won again with NWTS by going in the right direction. This is Drake’s most cohesive work to date and is my favorite album from the Canadian artist's discography. It  can be an underrated classic to many fans as they prefer Take Care to be his magnum opus, however, my view stays fixated on NWTS. Fantastic project all around, there are some rough moments in the middle of the album, but the album opened and closed the way we all expected. Some features were solid and some disappointed. Background beats were excellent, lyricism was sporadic, but when the whole picture comes together, it’s a great project. Well done Drake.



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