For UK fans, regardless of whether we have heard his music or not, we love Drake. Drake is awesome.
I can’t claim to have listened to much of Drake’s music. Before this week I had heard “HYFR” (NSFW Language, on any of the videos, really) and “Started from the Bottom,” the first single from this latest album. I’m not exactly a rap savant either. My friends and I went through a West Coast phase in high school and for about a year I listened to nothing but 2Pac, Dre, Snoop Dogg and Warren G. But that’s the extent of my rap knowledge (I went through another phase in high school, but we’re not going to talk about that. Ever).
This is my way of saying that I was coming into this review knowing very little about Drake or what he was about musically. That being said as Kentucky fans, we probably know more about Drake’s personal life and history than most people. He grew up in Toronto and starred on a Canadian TV show about teenagers called “Degrassi.”
Capitalizing on this fame and connections he made, Drake has now recorded three studio albums and released a slew of hits. Aside from his music and even for someone who doesn’t read too many tabloids, it was impossible to miss his well publicized love triangle with Chris Brown and Rihanna that led to a famous bar brawl in NYC where they almost killed Tony Parker. We also know all about how he became friends with Coach Cal and, along the way, became the best recruiter UK basketball could ask for (you know, other than Cal). We’ve seen him coach our favorite alumni, get a kick-ass National Championship ring, and receive a grab-bag of awesome from Cal at his high-school graduation.
All of this is really to say that I was going to like Drake regardless of whether or not I liked this album. With that mind set going in, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality, relative lyrical depth, and chill mood to Drake’s new album, Nothing Was the Same.
From the beginning this album sets a different tone than what I was expecting. I mean it has your requisite lyrical content, and the obligatory cameos from 2 Chainz and Jay Z (barely remembered to delete that Hyphen), but the delivery is what makes this album a joy to listen to. The opening track, “Tuscan Leather” samples Whitney Houston and it gives a real R&B flavor to the music, something that holds throughout the whole album. It also sets the lyrical basis, which is celebrating success. This track even lasts 6 minutes, but it doesn’t feel like it because of how the tone of the song changes several times.
The next two songs feel like (and already are in one case) the album’s hits. “Furthest Thing” and “Started From the Bottom” are the best tracks on the whole thing. The former starts out as a slow jam, but ends up as a anthemic celebration. Drake also comes off, lyrically, as a relatively nice guy enjoying his wealth. I mean what other rapper can you think of who brags like this:
Donate millions to some children
That’s just how I’m livin’
Drizzy seems pretty comfortable living a party lifestyle, but still throws in a lot of personal and emotional stuff that I wasn’t expecting. It gives him depth that I feel is lacking in other pop music sometimes. Drake definitely loves him some women, but bravado wise the meanest thing he seems to do is wear his chains in the house (which actually, seems nice when I think about it. I feel like leaving 2 many chainz around the house might get messy).
“Started From the Bottom” is a great song. And I feel that way mainly because of the video. It’s definitely one of those songs, for me, that sounds ok when you first listen to it and THEN you see the video and it’s otherworldly. This video has everything. Drake’s life working in a pharmacy, where his bearded white buddies vie for the attention of a gorgeous woman.
Dancing on a giant frikkin’ billboard in Toronto wearing a… SARS mask?
Dancing with a white Bentley in the snow.
And dancing with two gold bars. No big deal, I know this guy at Ft. Knox, we cool.
The video is epic and it makes the song that much better for me. It’s also another song where Drake gets to celebrate finally achieving everything he’s been working hard for. If this album is anything, it’s a guy satisfied with how his hard work is paying off.
Other highlights on the album include “Wu-Tang Forever”, where Drake samples the Wu-Tang Clan song “It’s Yourz”, and “Too Much” which is a really great R&B song with a great hook sung by British singer Sampha. The rest of the album is decent as well but, as with most albums I’ve found, the first 6 tracks or so hold my attention and then the rest ends up running together. This isn’t to say that they’re bad, but none of the songs stood out lyrically or musically.
Drake’s new album seems and sounds like a personal step forward for him. As he says in the song “Connect”
You can be whoever you want, even yourself.
and I think that’s what he’s done here. The whole thing feels like an ode to how he’s comfortable with who he is and it makes Drake seem more personable and more legit. This is definitely a party album, but more of a chill party and less of a ‘WOOO’ party.
I haven’t heard any more than one track from either of Drake’s previous albums. I’m also neither an audio expert nor a musical PhD candidate. What I can tell you is that going into listening to this CD, with no idea of what I was going to get, I enjoyed it. It’s not sliced bread or anything, but I never wanted to skip a song, or turn it off. Some of the songs were great and the ones that weren’t earth shattering were still pretty good to listen to in the background.
I think that you should definitely take a listen to this CD when it’s released next Tuesday. It’ll probably pop up on Spotify or you can go buy the CD at a record store (both of those things still exist right?). If you like hip-hop and R&B, you’ll like this album. If you’re new to both genres but you just think Drake’s a cool guy, give it a shot and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the songs. And until then? Just enjoy the hell out of this video, because it’s awesome.