Drake. His name is everywhere these days and the Toronto native finds himself smack dab in the center of pop culture lexicon-sandwiched somewhere between Miley Cyrus and the Geico “Hump Day” camel. For all the headlines, videos, interviews and general content that has been produced around Drake, it is interesting that we know so little about someone who shares so much. With a barrage of music released over the past five years or so, Drizzy still remains one of the biggest enigmas in music today.
To be sure, Drake’s discography read like entries in a diary. So Far Gone showed us Drake before the fame, working out his inner feelings, wondering what would come next and who was really true while looking inwards for answers. He posed a lot of questions that may have been answered by now. On Thank Me Later he contradicted himself often, telling listeners to thank him now and generally reminiscing over the onset of fame. Take Care was his masterpiece to date, the album that it all came together in harmony, garnering him critical praise from those in and out of hip-hop.
With his latest project, Nothing Was The Same Drake keeps with the melodramatic soul searching that has become his calling card, while also pushing things forward. Currently, the album sits one spot behind New Zealand native Lorde’s debut album Pure Heroine on the iTunes charts. The lead singles from the project, “Started From The Bottom” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” are vastly different, demonstrating the rapper/actor/singer’s ability to move seamlessly through his Rolodex of titles with ease.
“Hold On, We’re Going Home” itself is a bit departure of style for the former Degrassi: Next Generation star. Without any bars on the record, it is one of the few tracks that Drake exclusively sings on, one that is likely to be played at weddings for a long time. The video for the song also plays into the Drizzy “renaissance” man aesthetic, a cinematic, gun-crazy feature of a visual that gave viewers a look at Drake from many angles at once.
He was criticized for “Wu Tang Forever,” as “die hard” rap fans condemned the reference to the iconic group. Talking to U-God in an interview awhile back he spoke of Wu-Babies, descendants of theirs that came up on Wu Tang. Drake, at 26, was certainly the product of listening to RZA, GZA and the like, but the song falls short of doing them justice. It is J. Cole’s “Let Nas Down” without the understanding and worldview that made Cole’s song an instant classic.
Careful features, like that of Sampha, of electronic duo SBTRKT on “Too Much”, as well as 2 Chainz, Birdman and Big Sean are paired with lesser-known features such as Jhene Aiko, Majid Jordan and Detail and continue to demonstrate Drake’s innate ability to recognize solid work from a variety of avenues. Drake alleges to have “Started From the Bottom” but even at the top, isn’t afraid to shine a wide light on exceptional talent.
Aubrey Graham is a complicated guy who makes uncomplicated music. It is easily digestible, readily relatable and consistent enough for listeners to know what to expect in most regards. For this reason, it’s almost impossible to turn on the radio or walk into a party without his voice present. Nothing Was The Same is a continuation of the narrative that Drake has developed since emerging on the scene in 2009. The biggest compliment to an album is it’s ability to be listened through as an entirety. The latest offering from the Toronto crooner is no Take Care, but shows development and talent that can’t be ignored.