Drake's 'Nothing Was the Same': What the Critics Are Saying

12:51 PM PST 09/24/2013 by Kyle Jaeger

The Canadian hip-hop artist builds on "unconventional foundation" in his third studio album.

After his sophomore effort, Take Care, won Best Rap Album at the 55th Grammy Awards, Drake announced the title of his third studio album: Nothing Was the Same.

With the release of hit singles "Started From the Bottom" and "Hold On, We're Going Home," the album has garnered mostly positive reviews. It takes listeners deeper into the complications of Drake's personality while trying for something universal.

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Nothing Was the Same, out Sept. 24, balances bravado and retrospection, lending itself to differences of interpretation among critics.

Complete with "flashbacks, acceptance of wrongdoing, and unshakeable pride," the album's "progression is palpable." Billboard's Erika Ramirez describes how each song "is a lucid story of its own, in which Drake reveals more of himself, from who he was once to who he's becoming."

Simon Vozick-Levinson of Rolling Stone admits that "it's easy to poke holes in [Drake's] tortured-player persona," citing the difficulty of differentiating between lyrical "confessions" and "sneaky boats." But, as Vozick-Levinson suggests, "maybe he wants you to see that contradiction. After all, hiding his flaws has never been Drake's style -- they're the whole point."

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The autobiographical center of the album derives its potency from concision, a point that the artist emphasized in interviews prior to the album's release. "Drake has long harnessed self-involvement and internal monologue as tools for tugging hearts and bumping body parts," writes Randall Roberts of the L.A. Times. "He examines his plight and intentions while chasing booty, bragging one minute, then scolding the next."

"For all its moments of pure celebration, it's still freighted with overshared sadness and an unbearable tug of loneliness," The Washington Post's Allison Stewart notes. In "tweet-sized doses," Drake manages to "make the VIP room in a strip club seem like a pit of existential despair."

Nothing Was the Same is also the product of a collaborative effort in which Drake worked with "fellow Canadians such as Noah '40' Shebib and Gonzalez," who helped him "build on the unconventional foundation of his previous two albums," says Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune. "Drake's increasing mastery of not just rhyme, but tone and inflection is readily apparent. He chooses his words carefully, and their meanings multiply with each listen."

 

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