If it wasn’t clear already, Drake isn’t your typical rapper. He’s goofy but balling, dorky but sexy; he rocks his fro like he hasn’t changed his barber since he was 13 and always looks like he’s playing dress-up in a richer man’s clothes. If you like sensitive rap, great, he’s your guy. But if you like angry rap then, great, he’s your guy too. Drake is your friendly neighbourhood rapper, showing up on your radio and TV with his gleaming grin and absolutely dominating the charts with his killer flow.
By the time 2013 rolled around, Drake had more than proven he deserved a seat at the table. He was now buying the whole damn table and inviting you to join him. His third album Nothing Was The Same sees the rapper at his most content state. In just three years, Drake had gone from being a rapper wannabe to being the rapper. In the opening track ‘Tuscan Leather’ he spits, “I’m just as famous as my mentor,” and that’s a pretty good summary of how Drake was living. He was a little older, a little wiser, and a whole lot more famous. And he was now at the place where he was okay with all of that.
Unlike his previous efforts, Nothing Was The Same has a certain style and tempo that makes the album his ‘Drakiest’. Sure, Take Care takes the throne for his pensive side, but Drake has a knack for making the perfect beats to sing/rap over and his third album shows that perfectly. Take ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ for example. Its nostalgic bar-mitzvah groove sees the rapper channeling his R&B heroes and singing only, his OVO (Drake’s own label he started in 2012) signees Majid Jordan providing the iconic beat.
Most of the album sees Drake reflecting on how he made it to where he is now. He turns his life story into a killer anthem on hit ‘Started From the Bottom,’ brags how he’s got everything because he did it all himself on the Big Sean and 2 Chainz track ‘All Me’ and simply asserts himself as rap’s elite in ‘The Language.’ There’s heartbreak peppered in there (because it wouldn’t be a Drake record without it) but he’s handling it a little bit better this time around. ‘Furthest Thing’ sees the star owning up to his mistakes and he has a mature hypothetical conversation with an ex-flame on ‘From Time ft. Jhené Aiko.’ But on ‘Come Thru,’ ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ and ‘The Motion’ he’s back to his trademark melancholy, getting soft about the older days with the girls he thought really were the one.
On what just might be his angriest song ever ‘Worst Behaviour,’ Drake’s reminiscing on what it was like growing up without a father. But he can’t be too mad, because his dad literally appears in the music video. But perhaps he was saving all his emotion for the incredibly personal ‘Too Much ft. Sampha.’ Over a looped beat, Drake discusses his anxiety on becoming the greatest rapper alive and dips into personal family issues he’s been struggling with. The soft trap mix woven into the deep lyrics makes it one of the most powerful songs Drake had written, and it might be one of the most powerful he’s ever done still.
It’s not hard to see why Nothing Was The Same is regarded as one of Drake’s best albums. It truly shows his growth and maturity. After kicking down the door and screaming to be heard, then wallowing in his own self-pity and rethinking every decision he had ever made, Drake was finally at peace with who he was. And you can see why this sense of clarity was so important for him to move on and create his next line of hits. Because, yeah, Drake was kind of a big deal now. And he was finally letting himself celebrate that.