Five Year Anniversary

Words By Charles Holmes

Release Date: September 24, 2013
Label: OVO Sound, Young Money Entertainment,
Cash Money Records and Republic Records

The mark of seismic influence is rarely measured by how an artist changes with the world, but rather in how the artist bends the world to their will. Defiant, triumphant, and excessive, 2013’s NOTHING WAS THE SAME was the moment the Drake era calcified. During that same year, Kanye West’s Yeezus destroyed the musical parameters of the present in search of the future and Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail featured Hov embarking on a quest for a hip-hop chapter on how to age with one’s dignity intact. However, with Drake’s closest competitors and influences looking beyond, Graham could focus on shaping the now.

NOTHING WAS THE SAME was engineered to be a classic. The subliminal messaging weaved a narrative that Drake’s third album was his crowning achievement. It wasn’t a coincidence, Aubrey’s cherubic baby face looking wistfully to the clouds is similar in appearance to Nas’s Illmatic or The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. What could denote quality better than Whitney Houston and Wu-Tang samples? As Drake told GQ so succinctly, “I'm trying to get back to that kid in the basement. To say what he has to say. And I'm trying to make it last.” What ended up lasting was an album that perfectly reflected the growing anxiety, ambivalence, and detachment of an entire generation filtered through the brand of Toronto’s most successful musical export.


Hot 100 Songs of the Year

1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, “Thrift Shop”
2. Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
3. Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
4. Baauer, “Harlem Shake”
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray
Dalton,“Can’t Hold Us”
6. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
7. P!nk feat. Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me A Reason”
8. Bruno Mars, “When I Was Your Man”
9. Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly, “Cruise”
10. Katy Perry, “Roar”

Other Major Hip-Hop Albums
Released In 2013

Kanye West, Yeezus
A$AP Rocky, Long. Live. ASAP.
Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being II
Tyler, the Creator, Wolf
Tyga, Hotel California
Kid Cudi, Indicud
Snoop Lion, Reincarnated
French Montana, Excuse My French
J. Cole, Born Sinner
Mac Miller, Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Wale, The Gifted
JAY-Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail
Rich Gang, Rich Gang
A$AP Ferg, Trap Lord
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris
Big Sean, Hall of Fame
2 Chainz, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time
Pusha T, My Name Is My Name
DJ Khaled, Suffering From Success
Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2


In 2010, Drake rapped, “Am I the only 23-year-old wine connoisseur?” and three years later on February 10, 2013, he’d show off those skills on the GRAMMYS red carpet. As he basked in the joy of winning Best Rap Album for Take Care, Graham proudly revealed the next chapter in his career.

“I think that on Take Care I really found myself, found my stride and I’m excited to continue on with the new album,” Drake told Ryan Seacrest for E! News. “The album’s titled NOTHING WAS THE SAME.”


The owl is the perfect symbol for Aubrey Graham. Nocturnal, unassuming, but a born predator, Drake is used to shifting the culture, while his rivals and idols rest. Some of the most memorable highlights of the NWTS-era came from unexpected SoundCloud releases delivered at absurd hours. “5AM In Toronto” dropped on an early March morning and featured Drizzy bearing his fangs with a sense of honed defiance. Then on one late and prolific June night he upped the ante, by releasing four songs that helped set the tone for his upcoming album: a remix of the surging Migos anthem “Versace,” the swaggering “Jodeci Freestyle” featuring J. Cole, the eerily beautiful “The Motion” with Sampha, and “Over Here” that positioned PARTYNEXTDOOR as OVO’s first ascendant son. All of the tracks built upon the same goal, proving rap’s prince was ready to not only wage war, but also to win each battle decisively.

Standout Line: “Give these niggas the look, the verse, and even the hook / That's why every song sound like Drake featurin' Drake”

Fun Fact: “5AM In Toronto” was the second installment of what would evolve into the “AM/PM series.” In 2010, Drake dropped the inaugural state of the OVO Union, “9AM In Dallas,” ahead of his debut album, Thank Me Later.

Standout Line: “This year I'm eatin' your food / And my table got so many plates on it”

Fun Fact: In a 2015 Billboard interview, Quavo briefly discussed how the Atlanta group felt about Drake’s remix. “C'mon, Drizzy know he bit the flow. Drizzy got on 'Versace,' right? Then when I came on there I did 'Versace / Versace / Medusa head on me like I'm illuminati.' My boy Drizzy Drake got them bars from me. We together though. We ain't trippin' on boss.”

Standout Line: “The girl that I wanna save is like a danger to my health / Try being with somebody that wanna be somebody else”

Fun Fact: “The Motion” introduced Drake’s fans to the soulful stylings of Sampha who would later be sampled on “Too Much.”

Standout Line: “It's like every time I plot a return I seem to shift the game / See I can still talk keys without pitchin' cane”

Fun Fact: One of the most controversial lyrics on “Jodeci Freestyle” came during Cole’s verse when he rapped, “I'm artistic, you niggas is autistic, retarded.” The Fayetteville MC and Drake later apologized for the tone-deaf lyric.

Standout Line: “All my young boys ‘round me saying, ‘Get money and fuck these hoes’ / Where we learn these values? I do not know what to tell you”

Fun Fact: On June 13, Rihanna posted a curious photo on Instagram of a man in a speedo with the name “Beyoncé” written across his buttocks. The caption read, “Boys love,” which some took as a not so subtle jab.