The difference between one “mainstream” artist and one that isn’t necessarily labeled in the same light is usually a formula involving familiarity and sales. Once you can mention an artist to a casual fan of a certain genre (or even another genre) and find a significant level of recognition, it speaks for itself. We know this to be true with Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham… but you know that already.
We’re familiar with Drake‘s success. It’s inescapable if you’re familiar with the world of Hip-Hop. From his ability to create infectious melodies laced with emotion to building his brand, Drake is a powerhouse. Establishing OVO Fest as one of the most anticipated concert experiences with each presentation, and competing with artists he calls legends. A force to be reckoned with at 26, you have to question who is in competition with Drake at this point in his career. Simply put, if nothing else… there are his own objectives. Drake aspires to be more than just the best in the genre, he desires to be a greater entertainer. To be better than those he idolized and beyond. With that said, at the Grammys (where he checked another goal off of his list), Drake revealed the project’s title and from there, the questions began to make themselves relevant. Is Drake capable of creating the legacy he so desperately wants to build? Or will he finally reach a truly humbling moment in his career? These questions meet evidence in favor of his soaring aspirations with his third album, Nothing Was The Same.
The album kicks off with the distorted yet soulful trio known as Tuscan Leather. The track breaks itself down into 3 similar yet easily different tracks, in which Drake takes stabs at each. Breaking down his view from the top, there’s a couple risks taken here that aren’t necessarily utilized often. The various forms of delivery and the beat breaking down combine to create easily one of the noteworthy pieces of the project. Its importance proves to be relevant considering it represents the theme of the entire project: risk versus reward.
Emotional vulnerability is sacrificed here in lieu of experience, delivered through undeniable reality. The concept is one that is dangerous at the very least, being more of a step away from what Drake is privy to, based on his previous work. It’s a step towards the actions of legends he more than likely wants to surpass (e.g. Jay Z), expressing more facts than opinion and it certainly pays off, hitting more often than not. Speaking of Jay Z, his assistance on “Pound Cake” was fitting, Hov bringing his MCHG mentality to Drake’s project for a lively appearance.
Tracks like the controversial “Wu-Tang Forever”, “Worst Behavior” and a couple others sound off in favor of the previous outlook but that doesn’t prevent Drake from utilizing his niche to putting you in your emotions. Aubrey is still pulling at your heartstrings with his go-to producer 40 by his side. We can applaud them this time around however, for the variety. When Drake released “Started from the Bottom” to the masses as his lead single it didn’t sound like anything else at the time, and this project doesn’t sound similar to anything circulating currently, to its benefit. Drake’s previous albums felt like Drake doing music better than most (if not all) who may be considered his competition at the time of release. This feels like Graham being himself better than those who imitate, minus the few dramatic track switches that isn’t an astonishing new concept as of late. Regardless, OVO’s Orchestrator has managed to do it better than most, if not all. It’s refreshing and refrains from feeling awkward.
As good as Drake’s junior album sounds so far, it does have its setbacks. The album syntax has yet to grow from his debut. Drake’s construction of his work sounds eerily similar, to the degree where you can almost anticipate what kind of track will hit next and when. It’s only slightly harder to detect here due to his increase in chancy attempts, whether it be content or delivery.
Drake’s taken the concept of embracing how susceptible he is and found a fair balance. He’s standing taller and prouder on this project than he ever has, and it shows. He’s still working creatively and he’s remaining selective about what he brings into his world, pacing with his talent and access so that he doesn’t exhaust himself. There’s no rush for that either, as he has very clearly proven that he’s capable of delivering something fantastic without much assistance. There’s nothing like Nothing Was The Same right now. Unfortunately, Drake’s lack of competition really means that he’s the best of our generation currently… by default.
Pros: Creatively strong, Risks taken pay off often, Less emotional than the predecessor, MASE delivery? Approved and Appreciated.
Cons: Album Arrangement too similar, Lacking serious lyrical exercise
Timeless Tracks: Tuscan Leather, Worst Behavior, Too Much, Connect