Friday, September 27, 2013

Drake – Nothing Was the Same (2013) – Review

Review: Drake is back with his third major label release Nothing Was the Same, following up the very good album Take Care and the hit-and-miss Thank Me Later.

One thing that stands out about Nothing Was the Same immediately: Drake is not interested in sounding like every other MC out there right now. Instead, he is crafting and refining his own unique sound, and Nothing Was the Same benefits greatly as a result. Hip hop has become agonizingly sonically monotonous. A lot of it is just plain boring. Meanwhile, Aubrey Graham has developed a wonderful musical chemistry with producer and writer Noah “40” Shebib giving his albums fluidity, which is definitely the case here. The whole album feels like a cohesive project, rather than a random amalgamation of tracks. It also helps that this album primarily features Drake alone. The only other verse on the album comes from Jay-Z (and really, it was unneeded). Graham has the confidence to stand alone and not rely on a plethora of pointless/useless collaborations with other MCs.

Other producers also give Nothing Was the Same some strong musical moments as well. Mike Zombie, DJ Dahi, Nineteen85, Majid Jordan, Hudson Mohawke, Boi-1da (another frequent collaborator of Drake’s), and Key Wane (who produces the great bonus track All Me) all provide good beats, which Graham and Shebib form to fit the album’s musical aesthetic. The beats overall have a very minimalistic, muted sound.

Drake’s music succeeds, however, more so on his ability to let the listener in (something that he takes heat for as well – being too sensitive) than the album’s musicality (which is also good, but not groundbreaking or amazing). Graham is accessible with intimate and real lyrics about his relatable insecurities – in addition to the typical boasts of wealth, women, and skills. The listener, much like with Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar’s work, feels like they are being invited into Graham’s inner most thoughts, which is compelling when most hip hop is just fake.

Nothing Was the Same feels and sounds like a Drake album, which is a good thing, as he is a very talented artists who is unafraid to be himself. While it does not ascend to the same ambitious or artistic heights as Kanye West’s Yeezus, it is still one of 2013’s best hip hop releases and well worth checking out. 4/5

Essential Tracks:
1)      Started from the Bottom – Produced by Mike Zombie
2)      Hold On, We’re Going Home – Produced by Nineteen85 and Majid Jordan, featuring Majid Jordan
3)      Worst Behavior – Produced by DJ Dahi

Available on: Digital Download

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