Drake’s career is at a crossroads. He stands to be remembered as rap’s golden child, ushering in an era of low-key songs with lyrical content marked by poignant and honest lyrics about the emotional and personal tradeoffs associated with a meteoric rise to fame. Conversely, his continual slew of introspection and songs yearning for something long gone may have softened the edge he needs to maintain his status as one of the best rappers in music today.
With a title like “Nothing Was The Same,” Drake set high expectations of game-changing material for his third studio album. However, the majority of the album is a mixed bag of overflowing braggadocio, lucid honesty and depressive confessionals.
The first half of “Furthest Thing” finds the rapper half-singing against a haunting backmasked melody, spiraling through commitment, wanton sex, drinking, getting high, career drive, complicity and impatience. Exiting on a hook consisting of drinking, mobbing, fucking, smoking, and scheming “on the low,” the song crescendos into a choir-laced and piano-backed melody, reminiscent of the track, “Lord Knows,”
The album’s first single “Started from the Bottom,” signals Drake’s retrospective thoughts are in always-on mode throughout his junior effort, even while his verses spill over with hubris. Rapping about coming up from the bottom — a seemingly absurd notion given that he grew up in the affluent Toronto neighborhood of Forest Hill — the concept is at best half-baked in its execution.
Continuing the trend of title missteps, “Wu-Tang Forever,” a track sampling Wu-Tang Clan’s “It’s Yourz,” has been publicly rebuked by Inspectah Deck. And for good reason: Drake attempts to come off as hard with a sprinkling of profanity throughout his verses, while in reality he instead executes a lazy attempt to rekindle a lost love.
Indeed, some tracks could serve as veritable B-sides to past Drake cuts. For example, despite the ethereal hook by South London artist Sampha and Drake’s aggressive and raw delivery of grievances against his family, “Too Much” resembles a darker rehash of “Look What You’ve Done,” berating the very same people he appreciated on “Take Care.”
Despite doing enough recycling to make even the most ardent environmentalist proud, Drake’s brilliance does shine through on select tracks. “Worst Behavior,” is a refreshing departure from Drake’s usual cadre of producers, with the rapper directly addressing his detractors with an excessive no-fucks-given attitude that results in a clever bit of wordplay leveraging his Jewish background.
Nothing was the same for Drake, indeed. A slight misstep from the strides he made with “Thank Me Later” and “Take Care,” this album represents a period of stagnation for the Toronto rapper. However, Drake had best take care to come correct on his future verses or else the “Everything Was The Same” jokes might stick.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You’re a Drake fan that doesn’t mind listening to more of the same.