‘Started from the bottom,’ not quite there

Call me a hipster, but I really love albums. If you have ever read a review of mine, you’ve probably figured this out already. I just love the journey that an album can take you on, the range of emotions across a perfectly organized set of songs and the masterfully conceived artwork and packaging designs.

Fine, call me a hipster. I’ll allow it just this once.

Drake drops an emotionally and sonically darker album. (AP Photo)

As a so-called hipster, I run into a lot of problems reviewing new albums. More specifically, they generally break all of the criteria mentioned above, as well as having songs that, individually, are either written or produced in a terrible fashion.

Which makes it even more painful when a set of songs is well written and produced overall, while the actual concept of compiling them into an album format fails.

Individually, the songs on “Drizzy Drake’s” newest release,  and “Nothing Was the Same,” are, individually, pretty good. As a whole album, though, it’s pretty boring. The 13 songs and two bonus tracks of Drake’s third studio album can be described overall as slow, dark and gloomy.

But while Kanye West achieved these elements using minimalist production techniques and extremely unconventional (and slightly disturbing) samples on “Yeezus,” Drake just uses a lot of dark, atmospheric sounds. And unfortunately, this causes all of the songs to meld together into a mush of dark and slow.

But there are standouts. The album’s opener, “Tuscan Leather,” is a thrilling six-minute tune full of reversed samples, interesting and “bounceable” beats, and false-endings that keep you wanting more.

I also personally enjoyed the track “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” mainly because it reminded me of Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience.” So lovers of thatalbum should at least check out this smoothly pop track.

These songs may be good individually, but they suffer from “rich-rapper syndrome.” This is a condition in which rich rappers rap about how they’ve overcome racial barriers (with heavy usage of the “n-word”), all the drugs and alcohol they use and all the women they have pointless sex with. In other words, themes that got old about 20 years ago.

Overall, this album is a very good collection of songs. But that’s all it is: a collection of songs. The most this album could accomplish would be as a soundtrack of dark background music, and these songs are better suited to pop up in your iPod shuffle. That said, it’s still a very good effort from the Canadian-born rapper.