Drake's latest album is far and away his best.
Late Sunday night, a kid from Easton, Pennsylvania, began leaking tracks on Twitter from Drake’s much-anticipated third studio album. How did a teen from the rustbelt get an advance copy of 2013’s hottest rap release? Who knows. The internet is weird that way.
Regardless, it meant that Nothing Was the Same hit the street nine days before it was supposed to, and that’s a good thing. It’s just in time to be named the best rap release of the summer.
Drake is easy to make fun of. We’ve occasionally done it on this site. And there’s still a fair bit of material on this album that could make for a good punchline. He’s named a love song after a Wu-Tang Clan album, has a very skewed idea of what “the Bottom” means, and still wears his feelings on his sleeve. In reality, those first two are pretty forgivable errors, and the last one is what makes Drake, Drake.
Nothing Was the Same has Drake entering his art period. Sure, there are still some heartfelt love songs, but there’s more brooding and introspection. “Tuscan Leather” doesn’t have a chorus. “The Language” is an experiment in rap as an art form. He slides effortlessly from concept to concept without sounding unfocused. His rhyme schemes are complex and multi-layered, and when he sings, it doesn’t sound forced or tacked on. “From Time” has Drake doing some deep self-analysis, hashing out his long-term ambition and his relationship with his father. It’s all done over a beautifully sparse finger-snap-and-piano beat, which was co-produced by Chilly Gonzales. The chorus, which is sung by post-soul wiz Jhené Aiko, is less a chorus and more an additional verse. “The Motion” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” almost echo ’80s R&B with their snappy drums and soft synths. (You can listen to “Hold On” by clicking the link above.)
NWTS is a remarkable, breathtaking record. It’s the smart, emotionally raw music we’ve been wanting Drake to make.