Drake’s latest album finds him his hip-hop ‘lane’

drake-nothing-was-the-same-artwork-2DRAKE has finally found his ‘lane’ in hip-hop. Previous releases by the Canadian ex-actor – Take Care and Thank Me Later – suffered immensely from a lack of personality and an inconsistent tone  as Drake went from a ‘gangsta’ “catching bodies” to some insincere 808s-era Kanye West clone moaning about how women don’t love him. However, in his newest album Nothing Was The Same, Drake has been far more consistent in tone as it seems he has finally started to enjoy rapping and the incredible success/critical acclaim, which is reflected in the very triumphant tone that inhabits every song.

The first track is ‘Tuscan Leather’ and it serves as the perfect introduction to the album. It’s six minutes long and has no chorus. Drake raps about his rather sudden success as a rapper and how he is enjoying it immensely: “Prince Akeem, they throw flowers at my feet,” he roars. It’s overblown and a brilliant song. With this success, Drake has started to challenge his growing fanbase. Almost every song on this album is not your typical radio-friendly track or club banger that one would expect from a Nicki Minaj or a Lil’ Wayne. Drake just destroys every song with a hunger and vengeance that is very gratifying to hear, if somewhat exhausting. He raps like he has something to prove, which he actually makes reference to on the song ‘Pound Cake’: “I’m the big homie, they still be tryna lil bro me, dog”.

If there is something Drake has always been good at, it has been his choice of producers and beats. You would be hard pressed to find a bad beat on this entire album. The majority is done by his childhood friend and also ex-actor “40” and they seem to share elements from previous beats, like the Wu Tang Clan sampling Wu Tang Forever, that is then chopped, screwed and melted into something else quite bizarre and experimental – one does not expect this style of production from such a mainstream rapper like Drake. The strangest part of each song is that the beats in general don’t seem to go anywhere and yet there is one part of each song that burrows forward, through the haze and vagueness that hangs around it like a loose mist. It’s very minimalist, but not in the Yeezus sense; it’s a more cloudy, ethereal minimalism popularised by Clams Casino. Yet this style of production highlights Drake himself as verse after verse tumbles from his mouth.

There are some problems however. Despite my previous praise for Drake in lowering the amount of tonal inconsistencies in his music, it is still rather prevalent in songs such as ‘On It’ and especially ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, although Drake doesn’t stray too far. Drake also swears FAR too much on this album – a stupid thing to critique a rapper for but he swears so much that it comes across as a crutch to fill out his verses. For example, on the song ‘Worst Behaviour’ he says the word “fuck” and variations thereof at least 30 times in a four minute song, which is just gratuitous. My final criticism is his choice of  Jay Z as a feature rapper; he drops a horribly mediocre verse. Although luckily there is no Lil’ Wayne so one hopes that Drake has finally stopped being Lil’ Wayne’s protege. Ultimately, however, this is a very strong album that sidesteps (if not fully eliminating) all the problems I have had with Drake’s music in the past.