Where were you for the Great Internet Music Event of yesterday? Were you breathlessly following along as early adopters live-tweeted the leak of "Nothing Was the Same", the album that perhaps promised to be Drake’s Magnum Opus?
Of course, it’s late 2013 and though we have “release dates” for albums still, they’re getting close to meaningless. Nearly everything starts streaming a week early via Pitchfork Advance or NPR – and then of course there’s the leak date.
As such, Drake’s hotly anticipated third official studio album hit the dark corners of the Interwebs in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning – so sure, it’s time to weigh in. Naturally the chatter is all about just how sad Drake is these days – and how hard he’s clinging to the Sampha/SBTRKT/Young Turks production sound.
So, since it’s gloomy and gray at Fusion HQ, and my face is leaking with a cold as I type this, it seems like a perfect time to dissect some initial impressions of this musical offering. Shall we?
On this track designed as an Official Opening Salvo, Drake says at one point, “I could go an hour on this beat, n*****.” At 6:26 for this cut, it sure sounds like he’s trying, too. This ticks a number of nice little needed boxes for the beginning of the album – decent rap chops and zeitgeist-y ‘90s nostalgia references.
Teardrop rating: 1, but only because of the melancholy beat
Here’s Classic Singing-Mode Drake, bemoaning fair-weather friends and a tormented relationship. There are also some super emo lines here: “I hate that you think I don’t belong to you” he intones at one point; “furthest thing from perfect, like everyone I know” repeats in each chorus.
Teardrop rating: 3 – This would have been four, but at 2:45 the beat changes to some classic neck-snapping, New York-style hip-hop and Drake turns determined-sounding rather than depressed.
“Started From the Bottom”
You already know this one. This is the biggest downside to album releases by major singles artists – they’re often full of songs we’re already sick of by release date.
Teardrop rating: 0. This is triumphant Drake.
Actual members of Wu-Tang Clan already dissed this song for not actually relating to the group, so don’t come to this track hoping for some kind of tribute. (Well, beyond a sample of the actual 1997 Wu-Tang song "It’s Yourz.")
Lyrically it is a tribute of sorts, but to a long-standing, on-and-off relationship Drake’s had with a lady since the days of Wu-Tang. That’s nice, but the most attractive thing about this track is the minimalist boom-bap beat, especially the melancholy piano part samples from Zodiac’s "Loss Config".
Teardrop rating: 3. He doesn’t sound that tormented.
Finally, we have some total Drake emo-ness overload from the get-go, when he intones, “You’re still the one that I adore.” Then – wait for it! – “Next time we fuck, I don’t wanna fuck, I wanna make love.” Once you’re done drying up your own tearz (of laughter) enjoy the beat. I liked the shout-out to journalists at the end. Hi, bb!
Teardrop rating: 5 – plus some. Have a tissue.
Here, Drake’s lyrics again take a backseat, serving as punctuation to the production (reportedly by DJ Dahi and 40). About 2:40 in, Drake does his thing of referencing an old song by lifting lyrics and changing them a bit. This time it’s Biggie’s "Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems." One can only hope that Drake’s youngest fans will figure this out (wrings old-people hanky in nervousness).
Teardrop rating: 2. This is mostly defiant Drake, except for the part about, “mu’f***a never loved us.”