The intensely detailed storytelling of Drake's Take Care album has quickly elevated him to the Premier League of the rap game since its release in late 2011. As such, he hasn't messed around too much with its winning formula for his third opus Nothing Was The Same, which once again finds Drake delving into the past and searching for ways to cope with his superstar status.
That said, there are flashes of a significant growth in confidence compared to its predecessor; not least on the six-minute intro 'Tuscan Leather', which hears him boast: "How much time is this n***a spending on the intro?" over a reversed Whitney Houston sample courtesy of long-time collaborator Noah '40' Shebib. It's a piece of atmospheric self-reflection that sets up his current mindset: an artist with plenty of ambition but with a constant nagging fear about losing his way.
It's an issue he contends with throughout and is displayed most plainly on the double-headed closer 'Pound Cake/Morton Music 2, the former a self-congratulatory ode to his success aided by Jay Z, while the latter is an emotional introspection where he thanks those - including Lil Wayne with whom his relationship is often contentious - who helped him get to this point. Even lead single 'Started From The Bottom' takes on a different meaning within the context of the album; more an appreciation of his rise to fame as opposed to a senseless braggathon.
There are still times when Drake feels the need to pointlessly swing his manhood around (see: 'Worst Behavior' and 'Furthest Thing'), but the flashes of brilliance on the wistful single 'Hold On, We're Going Home' - his poppiest offering to date that somehow blends in with ease - and the subdued but gut-wrenchingly heartfelt tales of family life on 'From Time' and Sampha-assisted standout 'Too Much' more than make up for it. The result is a bold and compelling listen from a hip-hop king-in-waiting.
Download: 'Hold On, We're Going Home', 'Too Much', 'From Time', 'Tuscan Leather'
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Listen to Drake's 'Hold On, We're Going Home' below: