Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Nothing Was the Same - Drake - ALBUM REVIEW

It's been about a week or so since Nothing Was the Same leaked which basically means the internet has blown up since. Drake seems to have taken the Hip-Hop genre by storm since 2009 by creating a lane that seems to be only occupied by him and no one else. He creates a fusion of Hip-Hop and R&B, choosing mellow beets, and both rapping and singing on his tracks. He isn't afraid of talking about his feelings or sharing his experiences with women. For those reasons I have always respected Drake. He has managed to create a huge fan base and even garner critical praise for his albums, taking the Grammy for Best Rap Album last year (although I felt The Roots or even Nas deserved that one, but you know how the Grammys are). With all that being said, with all the respect I have for Drake and all of the praise he receives from other people in the industry and general public, I will say that I personally can't stand his music. I find his flow very disjointed and his singing voice very annoying. He barely releases verses that overly impress me (only ones I can think of are Lord Knows or Underground Kings) and the way he approaches his subject matter bores me. I mean I think its fine to rap about the things he raps about, as I've praised Childish Gambino for doing so, but Drake's execution doesn't appeal to me. However, a lot of people have told me that his new effort Nothing Was the Same was a very interesting and impressive project, many friends even saying its his best effort since So Far Gone. After many people's recommendations, I decided to give it a chance and give it a listen. I didn't have high expectations but I wanted to get into this project with an open mind.

Nothing Was the Same to me is a very similar project to Take Care for me, which isn't really a good thing to me because I wasn't a huge fan of that album. They way it differs is that its not as consistent as Take Care, but it has less filler. (Take Care was 80 mins, that's too much Drake for me :P) Despite having a couple of highlights, Drake didn't step out of his boundaries to create something original or new, but merely stayed in his box and filled it more. He even creates songs that mimic derivative tracks that already exist on the radio. 

The album starts out with Tuscan Leather, a really nice track with very smooth and soulful production. The synths and the vocal distortions in the beginning really set the mood of the track and gave it a tender feel. The beat switches up a minute or so in but still sounds good. Drake's rapping was great and the  production carried it perfectly. He raps about this fame and how he's on the level of some of the greats (commercially), and can you really deny that? The guys is one of a few to still go platinum (even though album sales don't mean much to me). The album then rolls into Furthest Thing which is a mellow track reminiscent of Take Care, but it was a good track. Drake does the hook as well but what I liked about this track is the beat switch-up near the end and Drake raps great on it as well. Then the albums gets to Started From the Bottom and its all downhill from there...

I don't feel the need to bash Started From the Bottom to the ground (even though it should be) because it's been done ever since it was released in February by lots of people. This track is terrible, and this covers the beat, flow, lyrics and hook. The beat is very annoying to listen to and Drake's flow is absolutely horrible. With this track, its obvious Drake wanted to go for that radio sound that Lil Wayne has been so successful at. He wanted to dumb down his flow (which gets even worse than usual) and raps in the most disjointed way I've ever heard him rap. Its painful. And I'm not even gonna get into the lyrics or argue if he did start from the bottom or not because it doesn't really matter. If the track doesn't sound good, then its not worth dissecting.

After Started From the Bottom comes the track Wu-Tang Forever, a song that has nothing to do with the Wu-Tang Clan or their music (to a certain degree). It's basically a love song with a catchy smooth beat but lackluster verses about a love interest and how his fame has separated him from close friends. Own It was a very forgettable track with very elementary rhyme scheme that even for Drake sounds bad but the track right after was pretty memorable, sort of. Worst Behavior was a very aweful song to listen to, which features Drake yelling at certain points which is very annoying (I see the Yeezus wagon getting more popular unfortunately). He's basically rapping about how far he's advanced in the game and to be honest we have enough Drake songs like this already. From that point till the second last track, there was nothing that truly held my attention or impressed me in any way. Jhene Aiko had some nice vocals and you could tell Drake has been practicing with his singing voice on the track Hold On We're Going Home (not that it was a great song, but it wasn't that bad). I also felt Drake had good bars on From Time, but that's about it. Tracks like Connect and The Language seemed very uninspired. I was surprised to see many people liking The Language, but I guess it just didn't appeal to me. Drake kept the same flow throughout the album, which could be a good or a bad thing for certain people, but I just felt I needed more variety. The album doesn't catch my interest in an impressive way until the last track. 

On the last track titled Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2, my interest resurfaced with the album because it sounded like Drake was hungry on that track. I guess the obvious reason was because he had Jay Z on that track, a living Hip-Hop legend (whether you like his music or not, you can't disagree with that statement). The production was very atmospheric and the background vocals sounded very chilling, and the C.R.E.A.M. loop didn't bother me much. (Speaking of which, am I the only one that noticed a huge amount of Wu-Tang references? - Raekwon, Capadonna, Inspectah Deck references) Drake laid pretty impressive verses but surprisingly Jay Z stole the show with his verse, flowing very nicely which is something that seems very easy for Jay Z (maybe not recently but you can't deny his previous work). It was a solid end to the album, but not a lot of people seem to agree with me on that track, but whatever, opinions are opinions.

In conclusion, Drake's latest effort Nothing Was the Same was a very flat and sombre album to listen to. I wouldn't say that you should take my word for it completely as I'm not the biggest Drake fan, but I did give it a shot and gave Drake credit where credit is due on 3 of the 13 songs (not counting the bonus tracks). I guess Drake's music is something that won't appeal to me, but its totally cool if it does to you. I don't think I walked away from the album thinking it was terrible. I just didn't get much from it. For those reasons, I won't give a rating for this album as it isn't an accurate representation of how good it is, but I appreciate the effort, even though its clearly not meant for me. However, a Drake fan would absolutely love this, so don't let my opinion sway you, check it out for yourself and formulate your own opinion.

Favorite Track(s): Tuscan Leather - Furthest Thing - Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 (Feat. Jay Z)

Least Favorite Track(s): Started From the Bottom - Worst Behavior - Connect - The Language - 305 to My City (Feat. Detail)

* For reviews of J. Cole's Born Sinner, Kanye West's Yeezus, and Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail, click here *

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