Nothing Was the Same
When last we heard from Drake, on 2011's Take Care, the influential Canadian rapper was probing the depths of carnal pleasure while occasionally hinting that such fleshly excess wasn't very satisfying.
So what's satisfying him on his third effort, Nothing Was the Same? Is it the same old bling, or some new sex fling?
"Own It" finds Drake longing for a deeper connection with a woman ("Next time we talk, I don't wanna just talk, I wanna trust"), as does "Connect." The latter song includes this nugget: "Wish you would learn to love people and use things." Likewise, on "Too Much," Drake chastises his relatives for believing money will solve their problems ("Money got my whole family going backwards"). Elsewhere on that track, he encourages an aging uncle to pursue his dreams. "Worst Behavior" describes Drake asking "for some blessings at my grandmother's grave."
Albeit crudely, "From Time" indicates that the singer wants more out of life than just sex and money. The role of a female partner is sung by Jhene Aikio, who asks, "So what are you? What are you, what are you so afraid of?/Darling you, you give, but you cannot take love." On "Tuscan Leather," Drake urges (again, crudely), "Wanted to tell you, 'Accept yourself'/You don't have to prove s‑‑‑ to no one except yourself."
Drake has a song titled "The Language" on this album, and there's plenty of the foul variety here. Twelve of 13 tracks include the f-word, and 11 of 13 the s-word. One of those songs, the aptly titled "Worst Behavior," pairs an abbreviated "mother" with the f-word at least 10 times. Other profanities ("a‑‑," "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑ch") and frequent uses of "n-gga" permeate the remaining lyrical lines.
Album opener "Tuscan Leather" is the first of many braggadocio-drenched songs, as Drake informs us he's "rich enough that I don't have to tell 'em that I'm rich"—never mind that the rest of the song does exactly that. "I'm getting $20 million off the record," he brags. "N-gga, that's a record." It concludes with a spoken word outro: "If there's hell below, I'll see you when I get there."
"Furthest Thing" offers a concise summary of Drake's dank and dirty deeds: "Drinkin', smokin', f‑‑‑in', plottin' schemin'/Plottin', schemin', gettin' money." He says that's how he wants to be remembered: "This the s‑‑‑ I wanna go out to/Play this s‑‑‑ at my funeral if they catch me slippin'/Naked women swimmin', that's just how I'm livin'/ … A n-gga fillin' up arenas." And then he has the temerity to drag God into his mess: "Yes, Lord, this the s‑‑‑ I wanna go out to." Sex and drugs combine again on "Own It," with, "Who could get the p‑‑‑y quicker these days?/Still straight with the weed and the liquor these days/'Cause the new drugs got the kids trippin' these days."
The album's second single, "Hold On, We're Going Home," is the only one without explicit profanity. Unfortunately, it showcases Drake and a very attractive woman heading toward sex. On "Connect," a woman repeatedly brags about her "p‑‑‑y power." "Wu-Tang Forever" repeatedly and crudely employs the f-word to talk about having spiteful sex with another man's partner. And there's still more bravado here too: "Stadium packed, just glad to see the city on the map/I just gave the city life." "The Language" unleashes yet more bragging, profanity, sex and drugs: "F‑‑‑ going platinum, I looked at my wrist and it's already platinum/ … She just want to smoke and f‑‑‑/I said, "Girl, that's all that we do."
Drake offers a moment or two of clarity on Nothing Was the Same, such as when he rightly suggests on "Connect" that we need to focus more on relationships, less on money and things. But such counsel is nearly impossible to hear (he certainly hasn't heard it) amid so many other profanity-laced, bling-fueled lyrics about enjoying the hedonistic perks of being rap royalty.
That's all that we do is exactly right. Frequent, vulgar injections of drugs, materialism, brash bravado and sexual prowess make Drake sound so much like so many others in his genre that he really should have changed his title to Everything Is the Same.