What sets Drake apart from other mainstream rappers is that the man attempts poetry on topics other than the tired. This does not mean he doesn’t slip into the occasional safe rap topics, like money, cars, and butts, but on every album there is a serious amount of lyrical skill between the fluffier parts. The first time hearing Nothing Was The Same’s “Started from the Bottom” is misleading to what’s going on in Drake’s newest studio album but it’s simultaneously a summery of the entire album. Fame and money were part of the equation as far back as 2007’s album-strength mixtape Comeback Season, catching him on topics of coming up as a backpack rapper, giving everything he’s got to get rich and famous. But now that he’s got what he asked for the strongest songs are those that catch him alone, stepping back away from his buddies, and talking Real Talk about what all three of those things–money, cars, ass–mean to his life now, if anything.
“Too Much (feat. Sampha)” has Drake contemplating if his life is any better now with all his old dreams realized. The real terror seems to come when he can’t find what direction to move in anymore, and the possibility that getting rich will make him lazy (“Stuck in the house, need to get out more/ I’ve been stacking up like I’m fundraising/ Most people in my position get complacent”).
Sampha’s vocals are a nice change from Rhianna–who makes a small nation’s wage only singing rap choruses–and sets tone, alongside solo clapping and his looping trills, echoing a loneliness that’s not seen with rappers known by their cliques. Drake sounds rushed in in delivery, angst ridden almost, like he’s held in his mother’s isolation too long (“Hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment,telling herself/ That she’s too sick to get dressed up and go do shit, like that’s true shit”), sharing it finally in the only way he knows how: by rapping. It’s a rap game mobius strip he’s walking, one that might not have a solution; being rich doesn’t mean being happy.