Your local hip-hop historians (a.k.a. old heads, if you are under 25 years old) hold memories of hands-balled-into-fists banging on lunchroom tables replicating the rhythms of "Shook Ones pt 2" while mimicking the Hancock sample with their mouth. Or perhaps they recall their fingers eagerly ripping open the packaging of the Only Built for Cuban Linx purple tape that they copped from brick and mortar shops such as Tower Records. If these folks still listen to current rap music at all, more than likely they are quick to point out that Drake is not a rapper they admire. He is a soft R&B singing Canadian emo actor, that is the very epitome of everything that is wrong with modern day hip-pop. In today's parlance, #softcreampuff.
The funny thing is that none of those insults are factually incorrect. Drake is from North of Michigan. He was on a sappy teen drama. His name, Aubrey Graham, is more likely to be a Mattel playmate of Teddy Ruxpin. He also sings. A lot.
While all this may be true, Nothing Was the Same again proves Drake is also a very good rapper. On the opening track "Tuscan Leather" he borrows from the H.N.I.C Infamous P, rhyming:
im living like im out here on my last adventure
past the present when you have to mention
this is nothin for the radio, but they'll still play it though
cause its that new drizzy drake, thats just the way it go
heavy airplay all day with no chorus/we keep it thoro, nigga
over the smooth, flittery off-beat tempo of his right hand man Noah "40" Shebib, complete with a sped up sample of Whitney Houston. If Mobb Deep, combined with Cissy’s daughter, over relaxed, muted sounds is not the perfect start for a Drake album, nothing is.
Not content to just keep the slick lines there, he goes further on "Pound Cake." Atmospheric, minimalistic sounds, light drums, and whispering angelic cries play the the back beat for ridiculously melodic braggadocio rhymes that would make Ma$e nod his head in appreciation:
Overly focused, it's far from the time to rest now
debates growing 'bout who they think is the best now?
took a while, got the jokers out the deck now
i'm holding all the cards and niggas wanna play chess now
And just like Ghostface roach picking out the cereal box at , a serious emcee cannot make an album without showing a reflective side. The shining star of OVO certainly fulfills this admirably on the standout track, "Too Much." Traversing the airy introspective tones of Sampha, Mr. Graham’s watery rhymes pour out of the faucet overflowing the emotional cup he is serving:
hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment, telling herself
that she's too sick to get dressed up and go do shit, like that's the true shit
all my family from the M-Town that i've been 'round, started treating me like im "him" now
Like we don't know each other, we ain't grow together, we just friends now
The frankness of "Too Much" is really what separates Drake from all the other new rappers that are trying to gain Control of the current generation of spitters. Whether utilizing machine gun raps or crooning about the sweetest taboo, Nothing Was the Same seamlessly demonstrates a meticulously self-aware artist at the peak of his powers. While not hood or street, Drake is true to himself, which makes him one of the realest rappers making music right now.