When Drake first mentioned he’d be releasing an album in September of 2013, fans and critics had no idea what to expect from the Canadian rapper. Both of his previous albums, Thank Me Later (2010) and Take Care (2011), were huge successes. Take Care even snagged the rapper with a Grammy for Best Rap Album. With a mixture of slow, serenading songs and killer beat sounds featured on his previous albums, whether if Drake would choose to go the same route was a complete mystery. That’s possibly why Nothing Was the Same is even more proof that Drake is an artist ahead of the pack.
The Grammy winning artist, Aubrey Drake Graham, first got a star away from the music scene when he played the role of Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Later in 2009, Drake’s role as Brooks was a thing of a past with a new passion on the frontline: music making.
Before even releasing a studio album, Drake garnered success with his EP So Far Gone (2009). The hit songs, “Best I Ever Had” and “Houstalantavegas”, were an outcome of that production. Later that year Drake signed with Cash Money/Young Money Records and released his first album Thank Me Later (2010). Thank Me Later reached the top spot on the Billboard 200 with the single “Over” earning the rapper a Grammy nomination.
Next on the list was Take Care which featured the singles “Marvins Room”, “Headlines”, “Make Me Proud”, “Take Care”, and the song that earned the saying, “YOLO”, “The Motto”. All singles went platinum with “Make Me Proud” peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.
It was two years later after being featured on numerous songs besides one specifically his own when Drake gave his audience just what they needed. Nothing Was the Same is Drake’s third studio album and one that combines melodies and a smooth rap flow to help his discussion of women, competitors, and living life with fame sound authentic yet catchy. He’s been a busy man this year, appearing on Saturday Night Live as host and musical guest, but this year the rapper is nominated for Best New Album and Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song with “Started from the Bottom”. Tune in to this year’s 56th Annual Grammys to see if he will win the gold again.
Photo Courtesy of Billboard.com
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10. Own It
With 16 songs featured on this album it’s kind of difficult to narrow it down to just ten that hold the top spots. But in this case it had to be done. Starting off at number ten is “Own It”. Drake made sure to contribute an equal amount of songs featuring his singing and rapping voice, but there’s just something special about the smooth intro to this track.
The beginning finishes off its predecessor, “Wu-Tang Forever”, but soon there’s a soft beat in the background almost imitating an off-track heart beat with Drake speaking of how “you’re still the one that he adores.” Shortly after the soft beat in the background picks up as the title of the song is repeated and he sings along with it.
Around halfway through the song Drake stops the singing to deliver a quick verse where he references what’s been happening in his life and how a certain girl hasn’t been living up to her word. Soon enough the beat kicks back in and Drake goes back to singing and the entire quick combinations just makes the song work.
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9. 305 to My City
Drake is known for releasing the slow songs that both women and (secretly, but not so secretly) men love as well. But every once in a while he includes a song that would make anyone doubt the man singing about finding love and rapping over hard-core beats are the same person. This song is exactly like that.
The best part about “305 to My City” may be the beat that finally kicks in after about 40 seconds. After singing for the first 30 the song can go in any direction, but after the beat hits the song goes in another direction and suddenly you’re nodding and singing along to Drake’s “I get it, I get it.”
It’s no surprise that Drake is successful and rich. But whether if you’re on the same level or just earned your first paycheck, this song can easily become a motto for success.
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8. Furthest Thing
One of the best things about this album is that Drake goes farther than talking about relationship issues and living a rich life, but addresses what life is like for someone that is still normal but may be expected not to be because of success.
“Furthest Thing” addresses how, no matter what level of fame or success he may reach, he’ll never be perfect. He lives the life of someone that earned it, but not in the camera’s eye. During the break between albums he was “schemin” and “plottin”, but as the song finally reaches a new direction halfway through, he pinpoints how the life he is living is the one he was born for. This may be one of the realest glimpses into his life that Drake has ever given his listeners.
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7. Started From the Bottom
In the car, in the mall, even in video game commercials, you’ve been bound to hear this track everywhere you go. Short and sweet, the message from this song is obvious: he started at the bottom and now he’s finally made it. Drake may be the king of creating mottos to live by on the road to success.
The greatest part about this song is how Drake tells a compare and contrast story with his lyrics. He starts off by stating the different things he had to go through as just a young man on the way to reaching success, and ends the verse with the mind-blowing outcome of it all. He went from borrowing a car to earning more than people’s yearly income for one show. It’s a life story told in a short three minutes.
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6. Hold On, We’re Going Home
It wouldn’t be a Drake album if there wasn’t a song to make you want a significant other as soon as it comes on. Drake takes a break from the rapping to completely sing this one. Addressing how being in a relationship with someone you love brings out the real side to you, Drake makes sure to mention that he’s the one that’s there for you. Throw in some Majid Jordan and a beat that sounds like a song from the 80s, and Drake somehow manages to make you question whether if you’re even listening to the same album anymore.
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5. From Time
Drake collaborated with Jhene Aiko on this track to make a love song with a mixture of singing and rapping. The song begins with piano notes and an off-pattern bass beat that continues throughout the entirety of the song. It flows like a conversation between Aiko who knows that she has enough love and courage to be with Drake and Drake that is mentioning what he needs in both love and life. It’s soft where it needs to be and just plain down-to-earth when Drake speaks.
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4. Worst Behavior
The return of angry Drake is sometimes the best Drake. Living a lavish, successful life, Drake calls out the people that claim they were there from the start. The first line to this song is the artist spitting out the word “Worst” with the beat dropping immediately after. If there’s any song on this album that makes you feel as if you need to reach the top with you, yourself, and the few that always supported you in tow, it’s “Worst Behavior”.
Drake mentions that he has grown up, and along with growing up came a time to rethink who’s with him for all the right reasons. If you owe him anything, you better be ready. He’s taking break from the love songs to remind his listeners to not mistake him for someone that is soft around the edges.
This song pieces the album together, demonstrating how Drake is never one-dimensional with the work he decides to put out for his fans. It highlights how Drake is able to play a guessing game with listeners, making it hard to expect what the artist will say next.
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3. All Me
It’s been said that no one does one great thing alone. Though this may be true, there’s something that each artist brings to their verse in “All Me” that collectively makes it a work of self-congratulatory greatness. Add in a little Aziz Ansari for an intro, and you’re making gold for listeners.
It begins with Drake singing of his earned success and how he made it to the top through the grace of himself and always staying true to what he wanted to do. It’s kind of a good message when you think about it. But thank the rap gods for 2 Chainz who not only throws in a few comical lines, but begins to boast about the ultimate success that he has reached. It must be the small ad-libbed phrases in the background that makes his verse all kinds of right.
Drake steps unto to the plate to deliver a verse that not only screams that he’s made it to the top, but he knows that he’s the man without anyone’s help to remind him. It’s the ego in this song that just makes it all type of right instead of wrong.
Ending the trio is Big Sean who isn’t afraid to mention his fiancé that “probably makes more money” than him and trust issues that have allowed him to push out the people that matter least. He even starts his verse off aggressively, making the end of the song feel like another beginning to a rant that he just has to get off his chest.
A few seconds after it seems like the song has ended, the sound that would accompany someone falling fast in a cartoon is heard and Drake reenters the ring to deliver a final verse of his living style, even mentioning his favorite area, the 305, once again. Someone give this man a trophy.
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2. Too Much
Living in the limelight can’t be an easy job. While the lavish lifestyle that is supposed to accompany it, it comes as no surprise when stars begin to mention how the ones they never knew before suddenly appear. It was difficult choosing which song summed up Drake as a growing artist perfectly, but “Too Much” may be just it.
The song opens with the sultry voice of Sampha accompanied with a piano to remind Drake and listeners to never overthink things, to simply let them happen as they may. A few seconds later an unexpected beat drops that makes the song one of the best on the album. It’s impossible not to feel it.
Drake begins to spew it all out on this track. From family issues that he can’t understand, to growing more within himself, Drake tells it all in such a short amount of time. It’s more than a glimpse into his life because he goes into detail of what his life is becoming. I guess this track could be described as “deep,” but it’s more than that. It’s real.
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1. Pound Cake/ Paris Morton Music 2
Combining with Jay Z on this track was pure genius from Drake, rounding this song off as the top on the album. The opener is a speech from Jimmy Smith, reminding listeners that real music will forever last while music that sticks with fads are bound to leave. And just like “Too Much”, this beat suddenly kicks in that just uplifts the track, making everything Drake has to say next even better somehow.
The lyrics in this song may be what makes it the best. Drake is a strong lyricist, no doubt about it. But the lyrics in this song paired with the beat are just something that can’t be described. He goes deeper than describing his life now and then. It may be his flow, or it may be his confidence in his work and who he’s becoming which is shown in a slower song than in his usual upbeat ones, but Pound Cake just sums up how creatively talented Drake is.
Jay Z’s appearance is the star on top of the already lit Christmas tree. As a veteran to the game, he focuses on how the lavish life is just a part of him and how he has made his success others as well.
The second part of the song brings in a different rhythm but the same Drake able to recognize that he knows for fact that he is the man without a doubt to disprove it. All in all, it shows that Drake is proud of who he’s becoming and can take refuge in the fact that he made it to the top just being who he wanted to be and not what others expected of him.