Upon its release, Canadian rapper Drake’s Nothing Was the Same came as somewhat of a shock compared to his hugely successful 2011 effort, Take Care. Littered with high-profile guest spots, it bore an air of immediacy, and celebrated the success of an artist reaching the peak of his powers. Comparatively, Nothing Was the Same is a stripped back affair, as we find Drake confronting his success and its effect on his relationships.
Unlike his previous, Nothing Was the Same refrains from a lengthy features list. An unwelcome ramble by rap oligarch Jay Z on ‘Pound Cake’ is the only high-profile appearance to make the cut. The result leaves Drake and his long-term producer, Noah ‘40’ Shebib, free from clutter and allows the rapper more room to ruminate.
This isn’t an underdog story, however. On ‘Started from the Bottom’, the rapper celebrates his rise to the top. Elsewhere, on triumphant opener ‘Tuscan Leather’ – a 6-minute chorus-less beast – Drake boasts “my life’s a completed checklist”.
Famously a sensitive soul, Nothing Was the Same could be described as Drake’ most personal yet. He confronts his diminishing friendships on ‘Tuscan Leather’, “not even talking to Nicki, communication is breaking”, whilst on the Sampha-sampling ‘Too Much’ he proves no one is safe from his lyrical scrutiny. He laments the effect his success has had on his family “money got my whole family going backwards”, and blasts his mother reportedly for not coming to his shows “I hate the fact that my mom cooped up in her apartment.”
Album highlights include the aforementioned ‘Too Much,’ but its best is opener ‘Tuscan Leather’. Drake poses on the latter that “we’ll see who’s still around a decade from now” – from this showing one name is surely already pencilled in.