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In a post Kanye-West-interview-with-Zane-Lowe world, Drake is looking like an average Joe. He’s a heavyweight big-name, big-bucks star, yet he registers nowhere on the insanity scale of fame. Good for you, Aubrey.
It’s been two years since Drake truly established his widespread appeal with Take Care and, helpfully, this is exactly where Nothing Was The Same picks up from. In a “last time on…” style reminder, Drake lets us know on opener ‘Tuscan Leather’ that he made “20 million” off his last record and he doesn’t plan on changing his winning atmospheric sound or his well-played conflicted sense of character any time soon. Yet it’s not money that Drake sees as his biggest boasting point.
Yes, he may have recently come in at No. 11 on Forbes’ highest-earning hip-hop list, but mainstream success and recognition is what Drake seems to want to show-off and have his contemporaries bow down to. “Degenerates, but even Ellen loves our shit,” Drake quite appropriately points out. He’s right – how many other rappers can comfortably appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show? And when he semi brags, “I’m just as famous as my mentor” it feels like Drake is displaying that rare beast of modesty in hip-hop as, let’s face it, Drake is making better records and accruing more fans than Lil Wayne right now.
Drake’s growing fame is down to the fact that he is a different calibre of rap star to that of Weezy. Although he has mastered his dichotomy of braggadocio rapper and sensitive singer well, we all prefer the latter mode. Girls love the Drake who says the stuff they want to hear. You know, like liking your hair when it’s wet, noticing that you’ve been eating right, working out and getting an education… Swoon. Again, how many rappers could get away with professing, “Next time we fuck, I don’t wanna fuck, I wanna make love” (‘Own It’) or plainly talking through a deep sense of regret and loss over an ex (‘From Time’)?
More than this, it’s Drake’s ability to get introspective and show off his vulnerability (all the while propped up by a gorgeously minimalist yet sprawling R&B backdrop) that sets him apart and makes his brand of hip hop so prevalently esteemed.
The straight down the line R&B heartthrob is his strongest suit and he should stick to it more often. As showcased on ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ – aka the best song of the year, no question – he can do insanely catchy hooks and auto-tune-free vocals. And as the accompanying video proves, Drake can and will save you from a hostage situation and put his jacket over your shoulders once his heroic mission has been completed. This is the Drake we want, know and love; if he can curb the seemingly requisite ego trips, Drake could produce an entire album as perfect as ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’.
Written for PLANET NOTION