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P-zus - Drake--"Nothing Was The Same" Album Review (p-zus) lyrics

In merely the first thirty seconds of Nothing Was The Same you feel your whole life flash before you in a kind of cinematic epiphany - some sumptuously reversed synth coupled with a few drum hits and a helium pitched sample of Whitney Houston's ‘I Have Nothing' dragged backwards through an elaborate sun-kissed hedge all the way into 2013 make for a grand opening. The imagery of the introductory pa**age correlates fittingly with the albums title - it shows growth, excitement and also a nostalgia. And Drake being Drake, the record wouldn't be complete without his customary effeminate musings, existentialisms and vulnerable tales of sadness and loss.

The follow up to Take Care was always going to be difficult to gauge in terms of artistic direction. The Grammy winning 2011 release was a very special moment for Drake, it was like a Disintegration of the 21st century for emotional hip-hop heads. It was potentially quite a risky move releasing such a decidedly sombre record, but the fact it received the Grammy for Best Rap Album was hard evidence of the fact that Drake had made it in the hip-hop world, despite his overwhelming lack of traditional hip-hop values. His somewhat feminine leaning post-808s & Heartbreak approach to music has benefited him to no end though, and his smooth yet emotional amalgamation of singing and rapping serves him well once again on Nothing Was The Same.

On this outing, Drake refines the palette used on Take Care and makes it into something slightly more coherent and manageable in one go. Take Care lasted over 80 minutes altogether whereas on NWTS he draws it to a close at just under the hour mark. And it's a relieving moment when it turns out that Drake himself draws it to a close; there is a very worrying instant where you think that Jay Z may get the last verse in such a well crafted album whilst harping on about cake for far too long. (It is notable how infuriating it is when the old-timer says the word ‘cake' over and over). But it is the Canadian who has the last say after Jay Z's drivel merges into the albums coda in which the sonic landscape gives the feel of a lucid dream and Drake talks about how his life has changed and how nothing was the same – it's vivid, honest, self-involved, self-a**ured and at the same time all feels a bit hazy and unreal – just like Drake's career.

Everything in between the impressive intro and the dreamy outro show growth in Drake. Not ma**ively so though, it's more an air of confidence and conviction within himself that he learns to articulate on his own – the songs here aren't necessarily better than on Take Care, but the man at the front of it all sounds more a**ured and ready to take on new adventures. The notable lack of features on the record show how he can run things by himself for pretty much a whole CD now too, which is refreshing to hear in an age that is over-run by publicity driven collaborations and features to help promote lesser artists. And it's genuinely refreshing to hear a Young Money album without Lil Wayne's cynical cackle or Nicki Minaj's verbal a**ault - it's not that they're unwelcome, it's just nice sometimes not having that stamp of such strong characters and this record certainly didn't need such braggadocio.
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Barring the undefendable ‘Started from the Bottom' and a few other moments dotted around the album, the collection of songs on the most part is the down-beat Drake we have come to know and love as opposed to the one reinforcing his monetary status as so many rappers tend to do (although he does do that a bit sometimes). Drake's most poignant moments come when he is being introspective and contemplating his own relationships as well as when he gives his own analysis on the relationship between masculinity and femininity. With regards to his more personal interactions with females, on the second verse of ‘Furthest Thing' he perfects his singing-rapping hybrid “Now you hate me / Stop pretendin', stop that frontin' / I can't take it / Girl don't treat me like a stranger / Girl you know I've seen you naked” in a very bare account of his sorrow and vulnerability. And on the late night drive of ‘Connect' he delivers one of his most harrowing lines to date: “Wish you would learn to love people and use things / and not the other way around”.

He is still the soppy chap that made that drunken dial on ‘Marvin's Room' and he's not afraid to hide that, and through his emotional antics he has become a microcosm of gender evolution in the 21st century. He opens the reflective ‘From Time' saying “I needed to hear that sh**, I hate when you're submissive” which is quite a jarring line coming from a male within a genre so renowned for masculine bravado – regardless of the context within the song, it is somewhat bold for him to say something so anti-hip-hop. By simply typing the word ‘submissive' into Google you find yourself locked in an argument so current, so important, so relational to peoples principals and emotions, so Drake. Many of these almost female empowering lines can be seen spread over the album, most notably and most explicitly the reference to ‘p**y power', but then he contradicts his effeminateness with mildly misogynistic tweet-ready-raps such as: “Isn't it amazing how you talk all this sh** and we still lack communication”. That too is one of Drake's pros: he's never boring.

The production of the album on the most part is what we've come to expect from Drake and his groupies – most notably co-founder of OVO Sound and long-term executive producer Noah “40” Shebib. On the whole though, compared to their preceding works, the record is slightly broodier and a touch darker. The haunting sparsity of ‘Wu-Tang Forever' and its prog-hop merge into ‘Own It', the swirling ba** and bustling electronica of ‘Worst Behaviour', the trippy swells on ‘305 to My City', the overtly direct staccato on ‘The Language'. For all of Drake's niceties and softness in his music, these darker elements are sometimes prevalent on NWTS and it is a welcome addition to the sound. In contrast, the album also offers one of his prettiest pop packages to date with the lush, Prince-esque balladry of ‘Hold On We're Going Home' as well as his most Drake sounding song yet ‘Furthest Thing' - one of his finest cuts which morphs into an outro section bursting with vibrancy and hedonism and Drake claiming “This the sh** I wanna go out to!”.

With Nothing Was The Same it is clear that Drake is becoming an even more comfortable version of himself. Having said that, the latest record never quite reaches the melancholy highs of Take Care nor does it have any of the high-octane swagger of ‘HYFR' or ‘Lord Knows' that the 2011 album produced (not over a whole song anyway – the ending of ‘Furthest Thing' comes close). In that sense then, yes – it is a more coherent and focused body of work that is easier to digest than its predecessor and the fact it is quite a bit shorter gives it a further amount of concision. But is it as good? No – but surpa**ing Take Care so soon was a huge ask and that's not what this record was meant to be. NWTS nonetheless is a very worthwhile collection to Drake's discography and it is further proof that he is more than capable of keeping up with the heavyweights of hip-hop, often even surpa**ing them, despite the fact he's the least heavy hitting. But today, that is what the radios are playing and the people are buying – perhaps it's not hip-hop, more hip-pop. And with reference to his mark on the rap scene, maybe Drake knows it too – nothing was the same.

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