Drake’s intent with his music has always stayed true to the formula of writing from a personal perspective, be it past, present, or future. On Nothing Was the Same (released exactly five years ago today), he precisely hit a new, pristine mark of this practice. Drake’s meticulous regard to lyrics capture the essence of this record; he knew his place among a sea of artists and how to anchor his calculated weight for stability in such a crowded field.
The shift in Drake’s energy really began to formulate here. His “nice guy” persona exited as his confident presence entered and transitioned into an implacable, confident tone, continuing right on to the artist we view today. Assured with his own ability, this album asserted his dominance over his peers both financially and lyrically, triumphantly positioning himself at the pinnacle of his generation. As confident as Drake appears today, it’s striking to see the extent to which he survived off modesty and steered clear of beef. He’s nearly a decade away from, “diss me and you’ll never hear a reply for it,” a tenet that now feels entirely uncharacteristic for Drizzy.
With Nothing Was the Same being out into the world for a half-decade, we’ve turned back the clock and gathered up what we believe to be 10 of the most telling lyrics from the album that signify this crucial shift in Drake’s character. Check out our picks below:
10. “Tuscan Leather”
“I’m tired of hearin’ bout who you checkin’ for now
Just give it time, we’ll see who’s around a decade from now
Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse controlled the culture during the summer of 2013, making it known that he’s King Kendrick and he’s to be respected as such. However, Drake had his own plans. In a timely move, Drake put his humble aura to the side and made it known that he’ll be around for quite some time. He went so far as to state in an interview with Elliott Wilson that he was only in competition with Kanye West.
9. “Wu-Tang Forever”
“I just gave the city life
It ain’t about who did it first, it’s ‘bout who did it right,
Niggas looking like ‘preach'”
In 2016, Drake received the key to the city of Toronto. He’s the most famous person from the 6, without question. Using his star power, he shed light on the talent in the city; perhaps most notably, Toronto-native The Weeknd reaped the benefits of his assistance for an equally enormous career. Sure, others have come before Drake, but not one magnified the scope of the city like he did; an expansion of horizons never before imagined.
8. “Tuscan Leather”
“I’m just as famous as my mentor
But that’s still the boss, don’t get sent for”
No matter how big Drake gets, he’ll never talk down on Lil Wayne. Like Drake has done for other artists, Lil Wayne has done the same for him, helping Drake get to place of success in music that allowed him the running start many artists could only dream of.
7. “The Language”
“I don’t know why they been lyin’
But your shit is not that inspirin’
Bank account statements just look like
I’m ready for early retirement”
“The Language” was a chance for Drake to challenge himself with new flows. Drake flexes his well-off finances and bluntly takes aim at another artist’s output. The cadence takes a page from Migos’ track “Versace,” another group which Drake can be attributed to bringing the attention of the mainstream.
6. “All Me”
“I get paid a lot, you get paid a bit
And my latest shit is like a greatest hits”
“All Me” is about as egotistic as Drake could get, and he gobbled up all the credit for being in a powerful position. Drake and right hand man, producer Noah “40” Shebib, put in a lot of time to create a “concise” body of work that “flows from top to bottom.” Drake didn’t hide the fact that he released chart-topping singles, and speaking it into existence is a way of ensuring fans will continue to obsess over each of his releases.
5. “The Motion”
“Seem like everybody calling ‘cause they want me on their song
It’s like every time I touch it, I can never do no wrong”
“The Motion” was a bonus track from Nothing Was the Same, only available if you purchased the album from Best Buy. But even this add-on, afterthought of a track is further proof that Drake is, undeniably, a hit-making machine. Even looking back at just the 2012-2013 output, we have Kendrick’s “Poetic Justice,” DJ Khaled’s “No New Friends” and YG’s “Who Do You Love?,” just to name a few guest spots, and this album’s mega single “Started from the Bottom” and the critically-adored “Worst Behavior.” Can he really do any wrong?
4. “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2”
“Debates growin’ ‘bout who they think is the best now
Took a while, got the jokers out of the deck now
I’m holdin’ all the cards and niggas wanna play chess now”
Drake aligned the value of a joker in a deck of cards to the useless energy of an artist in music. Nothing Was the Same’s energy lived off Drake’s competitive spirit, and he felt the game being changed up by other rappers, in response to his success. Like they had a chance.
3. “Worst Behavior”
Niggas still playing my old shit
But your shit is like the police askin’ us questions
Nigga, we don’t know sh*=it”
“Worst Behavior” birthed Drake’s vehemently-toned music, offering a somewhat vindictive tone to the idea that his mixtape So Far Gone was four years prior to this release and people still play the project like a new release. As for the other artists’ music that Drake refers to in this line? Unheard of, if we’re to believe Drizzy. It’s more than a far cry to the Drake of Take Care, but one we would only continue to grow accustomed to.
2. “Worst Behavior”
“Who else making rap albums, doing numbers
Like it’s pop? Same old pimp, Drake, you know
Ain’t nothin’ changed
With these funny style niggas we done put on in the game”
Drake’s opening week numbers for Nothing Was the Same turned out pretty good, to say the least. Drake can’t seem to get away from talking about artists he doesn’t approve of, in the same breath as boasting about himself.
1. “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2”
“Fuck all that ‘happy to be here’ shit that y’all want me on
I’m the big homie, they still be tryna lil bro me, dawg
Like I should fall in line, like I should alert niggas when
I’m ‘bout to drop somethin’ crazy and not say
I’m the greatest of my generation”
Drake completely goes from boy to man on “Paris Morton Music 2,” the record’s triumphant finale. This portion of the song is Drake standing up at the dinner table full of elite rappers, those that came before him and telling them he’s ready. Ready for what? Ready for the legacy he wants to leave behind, whether that’s a decade from 2013 or more. It is here, definitively, that the humble approach reaches its end. Nothing was the same after Nothing Was the Same.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out 25 of the best Drake songs.
- Words: Craig T Lee