Drake‘s Nothing Was The Same could end up being the biggest rap release of the year, and only Drake could release such a sprawling event album that’s so insular and, well, quiet. Noah “40″ Shebib‘s beats fold in on themselves, making it sound more like a James Blake album. But Drake’s rhymes are all hip-hop: when he’s not celebrating his rise to the throne, he’s lashing out against himself, or his exes, or his family. It’s gray stuff, but it’s mostly compelling.
In our 3.5/5 review, Bianca Gracie pointed out that “the album is almost devoid of catchy hooks or choruses, which are traded for therapeutic ramblings.” She added that Drizzy and 40, meanwhile, “are trying to create a producer-artist relationship that can match the greats…the duo has successfully found their musical niche.”
The rest of the Web likewise had a pretty warm reaction to the chilly album. Head below for a roundup of reviews.
:: Pitchfork awarded it Best New Music, saying, “As Drake albums go, this is the Drakiest” which, really, needs no explanation. Sonically, “Nothing Was the Same is Drake and 40′s most audacious experiment yet in how far inward they can push their sound; a lot of the album sounds like a black hole of all 40′s previous productions being sucked into the center.”
:: Rolling Stone gave it 4 stars out of 5, and pretty much summed up the Drake experience in the process: “A more accurate title for this album might have been Everything Was Pretty Much the Same: It’s a brilliant summation of all the things you already love about Drake – unless you find him totally annoying, in which case it probably won’t change your mind”
:: EW handed out an A grade, saying the album “bristles with epiphanies, absurdities, and plenty of bluster, but it’s all fodder for a hyperrealistic portrait of Aubrey Drake Graham, not some coronation ceremony.”
:: SPIN was a little stingier, rating NWTS a 7/10. “There is a downside to the shedding of humility, as well as the fear that accompanies it, and it’s what bogs down an album that was shaping up to be his best. With Nothing Was the Same, Drake and 40 invest too much in their own hype.”
:: Vibe posits that “Drake has yet to conceive a classic album. While Nothing Was The Same doesn’t end that drought, its accomplishments may end up more pivotal. Hip-hop music hasn’t been blurred and stretched this wide since Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak.”
:: The Los Angeles Times reviewer hilariously points out that “Through 13 tracks over the course of an hour, the platinum rapper mentions himself nearly 500 times” before slamming the album thusly: “Just because this voice is well soundtracked doesn’t necessarily make it engaging.”
:: HipHopDX scored it a 4/5, citing Drake’s growth as an artist. “[NWTS] showcases new skills—trimming the unnecessary songs, and focusing on narrative details the way he does on ‘From Time’—that will strengthen Drake’s arsenal and help him continue to cement his status.”
:: The AV Club gave the album a B+, lauding Drake for straying “even further from genre tropes to further mine the late-night vibe of Take Care’s softest stretches,” but qualifying that statement by saying he and 40 “sometimes seem content to revisit that album’s sonic landscapes instead of carving out new ones.”