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.