Every so often, an album emerges from the vast landscape of music that acts as a definitive marker in an artist’s career and hip-hop culture as a whole. Nothing Was the Same, the 2013 release from Toronto superstar Drake, holds this distinction.
Aubrey Drake Graham had already made a name for himself with his So Far Gone mixtape as well as albums like Thank Me Later and Take Care. However, Nothing Was the Same marked a clear departure in Drake’s creative trajectory. The album was tighter, more polished, more autobiographical and introspective yet more aggressive than his other releases.
On this record, Drake pushed boundaries and blurred genre lines, cementing an OVO sound that was distinctly his own. From the biting aggression in “Worst Behavior” to the melancholic introspection of “Too Much,” the album delivered a comprehensive display of Drizzy’s artistry and solidified him as one of the leading rappers of the 2010s.
15. “305 to My City” (feat. Detail)
Kicking off with “305 to My City”, we see Drake embracing his adopted city of Miami, with Detail’s auto-tuned crooning adding a certain melodramatic flair to the track. It’s a slow burner, with the OVO rapper’s signature introspection simmering just beneath the surface.
14. “Wu-Tang Forever”
Coming in at 14, we have “Wu-Tang Forever,” an ode to one of hip-hop’s most legendary groups. Despite the title, the track veers away from the raw grit of Wu-Tang’s sound and instead favors a delicate, R&B-infused beat, underpinning Drake’s exploration of love and fame. It’s a subtle nod to the golden rap era, but with a distinctively Drake twist.
In the thirteenth spot, we find “Connect,” an introspective look at the emotional toll of relationships. The Houston influence is apparent, with its hypnotic beat and atmospheric shimmers underscoring Drake’s vulnerable lyrics.
12. “From Time” (feat. Jhené Aiko)
Just shy of the top 10, “From Time” holds the 12th position. Drake shares the track with the ethereal Jhené Aiko. Their chemistry is potent, creating a serene, introspective duet. Jhené’s honeyed vocals perfectly complement Drake’s candid verses, painting a vivid picture of love’s complexities.
11. “Own It”
Next up is “Own It,” Drake’s trademark introspection woven into a mesmerizing beat. The track is drenched in vulnerability, with Drake’s assertion “You’re still the one” driving home a message of romantic perseverance. The mood swings between contemplative and assertive, mirroring the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship.
10. “Come Thru”
Here, we reach the 10th spot with “Come Thru”. Here Drake deftly interlaces melodic rap with soulful R&B elements, blurring the lines between genres. The shift in tone midway creates a sonic surprise, echoing the nostalgic reflections that the Toronto rapper is famous for. The track is a testament to Drizzy’s ability to seamlessly marry introspection and charisma, making Nothing Was the Same a holistic expression of his musical identity.
9. “All Me” (feat. 2 Chainz and Big Sean)
Now, onto track number 9, “All Me.” This high-energy cut enlists the talents of 2 Chainz and Big Sean. An anthem to self-reliance, the track mixes braggadocious lines with a soul-searching undercurrent. A quintessential Drake song, where the stellar features bolster the theme of individual accomplishment.
8. “The Language”
Then, we move onto “The Language,” sitting at the 8th spot. This track showcases Drake’s knack for creating infectious hooks and melodies. Amid the staccato delivery and layered beats, he confronts critics, defends his status, and navigates the murky waters of fame and fortune, further cementing the Cold War between him and Kendrick.
7. “Started from the Bottom”
Ranking at number 7, we have “Started from the Bottom.” This iconic track became an emblematic anthem for Drake’s journey. It perfectly encapsulates the essence of his rise from obscurity to prominence. The repetitive, catchy hook, coupled with the raw honesty of Drake’s verses and Mike Zombie’s hypnotic beat, makes it a standout moment on the Nothing Was the Same.
6. “Worst Behavior”
Placing at number 6 is “Worst Behavior,” an aggressive and unapologetic anthem where Drake flaunts his success and ruffles feathers. Delivering a memorable hook and unabashed bravado that conveys a ‘me against the world’ sentiment that’s all too relatable, “Worst Behavior” is confrontational Drake at his best and the start of his paranoia.
5. “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2” (feat. Jay-Z)
Next, at the 5th spot, we’ve got two-parter — “Pound Cake” and “Paris Morton Music 2.” While both tracks are great, it’s “Pound Cake” featuring the one and only Hov that takes the cake. The Ellie Goulding-sampling beat provides the perfect canvas for two generations of rap royalty to paint their stories of success and struggle.
4. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (feat. Majid Jordan)
Moving to the fourth position, we arrive at “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Featuring Majid Jordan, this track is a soulful detour from the album’s predominantly hip-hop leanings. It’s a sonic masterpiece that sees Drake exploring themes of love and vulnerability with an ’80s-inspired synth groove, creating a timeless classic that continues to resonate with listeners.
3. “Furthest Thing”
Occupying the third spot is “Furthest Thing,” where Drake puts on display his characteristic blend of introspective bars and crooning choruses, meditating on fame’s paradoxical nature. The track is a journey, starting with a laid-back vibe before culminating in a powerful second half, embodying the internal conflict of a star caught between humble beginnings and dizzying success.
2. “Too Much” (feat. Sampha)
Coming in at number two, “Too Much” is a profound and emotional exploration of personal struggle. The song is bolstered by a mesmerizing hook from Sampha, which provides a haunting backdrop for Drake’s reflections on strained family relationships and the burdens of success. It’s an introspective anthem that speaks volumes about the human condition beneath the glitz and glamour.
1. “Tuscan Leather”
And finally, in the throne position, we have “Tuscan Leather.” The 6-minute tour-de-force showcases the rapper’s lyrical prowess and ability to hold a listener’s attention through extended running times. Opening with a reversed Whitney Houston sample, the track features three distinct beats, with Drizzy delivering top-tier bars that traverse a variety of subjects. It’s a remarkable show of ambition and execution that signals Drake’s evolution as an artist and lyricist, making it the best and boldest track on Nothing Was the Same.