The history of HipHop is the story of a rise, from the very bottom to the very top. The success story of this cultural movement materialized from the thousands and thousands of anecdotes of the rise of hip hop figures over the last 40 years – real and fictional. From the curb of the South Bronx to the skyline of the world. Nothing became everything. Hip hop is the social crescendo. The fact that this success story no longer has a fixed starting point was set in stone almost exactly six months ago. Aubrey Graham, a 26-year-old ex-child actor from the Canadian middle class, rapped over and over again the one sentence: “Started from the bottom, now we here.” This “here” needed no further explanation: Drake is one of the most successful musicians of our time. But this “bottom”? Which bottom was Drake talking about?
The biography of Aubrey Drake Graham is not unique. A host of Disney kids wander along the same paths in the pop-culturalised reality. Everybody knows the singing and dancing actor-entertainers Justin and Britney, Selena and Miley – sometimes the creation of the egg-legendary wool-milk-pop sow succeeds, sometimes the experiment ends with baldness or twerking in front of Robin Dicke’s crotch. With Drake all this has worked out quite well so far. All the more astonishing, because he has managed the change from a harmless daily soap high schooler from Canada to a respected global rap star (no Oli P. of course). Drake’s career is proof that the demand for realism no longer has to follow the strict rules of the hip hop genre. You don’t have to have been carrying, dealing, shooting or suffering at some point to be respected in rap. Sure, Drake is also ridiculed, yes, hated – because of his white wine spritzer music, the moaning about his ex-girlfriends, the lack of clothing style, the singing, the poses. But if a Common calls you “soft” or a Papoose makes you jointly responsible for the “feminisation of HipHop”, what does that mean? You no longer have to talk about how hard it was or how hard it made you. You can find your own themes. You get to love Little Brother and Aaliyah and be cash money, you get to combine rap and singing, you get to wear Dada suits and black Timberland boots, you get to dream about success and rant about success, you get to call a song “All Me” and share it with 2 Chainz and Big Sean, and you get to set yourself the goal at 23 years old to make $25 million by two years from now. On his blog, Drake once wrote, “I didn’t buy my way into my current position and it was far from easy to get into that position.” That’s exactly what Drake’s “bottom” is.
“Nothing Was The Same”, the title alone. I wonder what it could mean. Is it a thick-headed announcement of a paradigm shift, like you just know from rap album announcements? Is it the vulnerable statement that this incredible path to success is hardly comprehensible for Drake either? Or is it the explanation of the status quo, where the conditions in today’s world of rap (and therefore pop) are simply different and will make it possible for Drake to be the first rapper after Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” – five years later – to sell one million albums in the first week? We don’t know. Drake likes to keep the public in the dark. Despite his music, in which he maybe lets down his pants more than all the rest. Admittedly, he has never himself admitted this desire to cover up. It was The Weeknd who brought it to the point in the cover interview with “Complex” – by the way, the only one there is of him. The rumour that Drake and he had broken up after the close collaboration on “Take Care” in a fight, he smiles sublimely from the table: Of course, they are still cool with each other, but they don’t want to serve the audience everything on a silver platter. Because: “It’s all about the mystery, and people like it.” One of the best songs of “Nothing Was The Same”, the grandiose collaboration “Too Much” with the British producer/singer-songwriter Sampha, delivers another slogan: “Don’t think about it too much, too much, too much, too much, too much/There is no need for us to rush it through”.
Musically, “Nothing Was The Same” is far more one-dimensional than its predecessor “Take Care”. There are hardly any runaways from the Drake/40 formula, the post-soully emo-rap, the emotionally charged cuddle fog, the Toronto blues. Drake’s cross has become wider, but his sounds are quieter. Drake translates his approach of post-“808s & Heartbreak”-HipHop even more concentrated on “Nothing Was The Same”. Anyway, Kanye. “Me And Hov would’ve never made ‘Watch The Throne’ if this nigga wouldn’t have put pressure on us like that,” Kanye said at his surprise appearance at Drake’s OVO festival in Toronto. On that k