“On past albums when I’ve been trying to tell the story, I’ve got there but maybe not got there all the way, this is my most clear, concise thoughts from now, and my best recollection of then.” – Aubrey Drake Graham
The third studio album Nothing Was The Same from the childhood actor-turned worldwide chart topper is here.
Tuscan Leather acts as a proclamation of the artist’s return as it comes zipping into the ear of the listener through auto-tuned screeching and a familiar lyrical brashness to announce itself on the scene as an album worthy of recognition in a year where competition is rife.
In the final throes of this opening salvo, the bass is pumped up and the scene is set for Drake to announce that he is “on a mission, trying to shift a culture”. How successful he is in this mission is debatable but a shift in Drake’s own sound is clear.
This album is certainly his most coherent both in terms of lyrics and track ordering. This is evident from the very first cuts; Furthest Thing feels like the melancholic come-down from the hype of Tuscan Leather, a more reflective mood created with a gentle piano sound whilst Drake muses that he is “somewhere between I’m sober and I’m lifted” and “The furthest thing from perfect, like everyone I know”.
Nothing Was The Same is perhaps the greatest example to date of something many feel is Drake’s most endearing quality; the ability to combine self-importance with self-reflection, insolence alongside introspection and melancholy with bravado. This is at its most evident at the mid-point of the album with From Time and Hold on, We’re going Home combining to shift the mood of the album in a more haunting, reflective and emotional direction. An excellent performance from Jhene Aiko could allow From Time to reach similar levels as the excellent albeit sampled Take Care , (courtesy of Jamie xx) achieved in Drake’s previous album.
For some, this persona of a dissatisfied, frustrated, fame-shy superstar becomes a more difficult sell with each multi-million dollar record deal and is wearing thin as a result. This album could yet change these opinions however because Drake’s self-reflection concentrates on himself rather than endless vague stories of past lovers and broken relationships which he often been guilty of over-using as the subject of his songs. The words “I find peace knowing that it’s harder in the streets, I know. Luckily I didn’t have to grow there” featured in Wu-Tang Forever represent an honest acknowledgement that the artist didn’t come from the harsh, unforgiving background that many of his contemporaries lay claim to. For one of this genre’s biggest artists to so openly admit this holds great significance, especially when one’s success and respect is often amplified by the obstacles you have had to overcome.
The over-riding message that emanates from this third album is one of a more mature, relaxed, precise and thoughtful Drake. As usual, his insecurities are laid bare for anyone who cares to listen. This may be due to a greater sense of self-confidence. Drake has proved himself in a ruthless industry, perhaps this has allowed him to relax and take this album to places nobody else has attempted. Whilst it does not drift too far from previous cuts, there is a definite shift in mood throughout this album. In one of the final tracks on this latest installment Too Much, Drake leaves us with the line “When I stop having fun with it, I’ll be done with it”. We hope he doesn’t get bored any time soon, “Nothing was the same” is Drake at the top of his game.
by Thomas Hallam