Drake's Nothing Was The Same seemed to slightly underwhelm the fans who loved Take Care, at least in its first few days. Given the massive popularity of his last release, this in itself is no small accomplishment. The most evocative moments from Drake's latest endeavor—"Too Much," "Connect"—suggest a maturity and honesty that is anathema to the fanbase roped in by the neurotic interpersonal drama of Drake's most popular work. (Also, it just has fewer "bangers.") Not that the old Drake has left, exactly. Songs like "305 to My City" and "Own It" are full of that mix of oblique aphorisms and stripper-saving you'd expect from the rapper who's transformed being a "nice guy" into a larger-than-life rapper archetype.
Sonically, Nothing Was The Same tightens the focus, as Drake and 40 strip the production to sparse piano lines, giving the entire record a colder ambiance. Appropriately, Drake seems more distant than ever before. Despite the implication that he's a more "personal," open, and emotional rapper than his contemporaries, this is a guarded record. Drake jumped on a Lil Reese track in 2012, but its hook could easily describe Drake's 2013, as he sits at the lonely apex of his career: "At the top, it's just us." —David Drake