‘Nothing Was The Same’ Memento Theory: Deluxe Version of Album Intended to be Tracklist Reversed
By: Ian Gunn
It’s been a little over three years since the release of Drake’s best work to date: Nothing Was The Same. (This isn’t my opinion, after I finish explaining this theory you too will understand that it is by far his best work to date).
Recently, while deep in the interwebs, I came across this theory that the Deluxe Version of ‘Nothing Was The Same’ was supposed to be the same album with a reversed tracklist. Meaning that the album is supposed to flow smoothly both frontwards and backwards. So you’d start the album with “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2”, then “Too Much”, then “305”….until you end with “Tuscan Leather.”
Drake has been on record saying this theory is true: “It’s such a journey that it’s over quickly, but you forget where you started so you have to listen again. By the time you get to ‘305 To My City’ you don’t remember how you got there from ‘Wu Tang Forever.’ It’s all connected . The initial idea was to release two versions of the album. The deluxe version was going to flip the whole track list, so it would go ‘Pound Cake’ then ‘Too Much’—it would go in reverse . It was a cool, different listening experience. We never brought it into fruition; I think it was some iTunes [issue] or something like that.”
Drake seems very nonchalant about this like it was just a unique way to sell more records, like it wasn’t a big deal at all.
I believe this was thought out very, very thoroughly and the evidence is staggering. Let’s start with the Deluxe Version album cover, it’s Drake looking to the left, or backwards, small hint right off the bat.
Then we get deeper; when you start the album with Pound Cake / PMM2 the opening lines are a sample from Drake’s dad: “Years ago…” he then talks about the creation process of albums back in the day and it fits themes that would match an album intro, plus Pound Cake and PMM2 fit the theme of dope fucking intro songs that Drake has always done so well.
We then see the album’s end as Tuscan Leather and a Curtis Mayfield sample at the end of the song makes a lot of sense: “If we may…we’d like to close out with something inspirational.” This obviously makes way more sense being an outro song.
“But Ian, what about the line ‘How long this nigga taking on the intro’ in ‘Tuscan Leather’?”
I never thought you’d ask! This is the mind blowing part: In Tuscan Leather right after Drake says ‘How long this nigga taking on the intro’ he then says “Got me feeling like Guy Pearce in Memento”.
Memento is a Christopher Nolan movie starring Guy Pearce, where the protagonist has short term memory loss and the whole film is shot and edited to be told like you the viewer have short term memory loss. The movie literally shows you the ending at the beginning of the film. So now, Drake’s dope Memento line now becomes one of the greatest lines in hip hop history, he’s literally giving away trick. In the original version of the album world, Tuscan Leather is the intro song. Drake’s giving you the ending right at the beginning just like in Memento.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!
Let me take you track by track of the true Deluxe version (so, we’re going to listen to it backwards) and I’ll explain more evidence:
Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2
“Like I didn’t study the game to the letter
And understand that I’m not doin’ it the same
Man, I’m doing it better
Like I didn’t make that clearer this year
Like I should feel, I don’t know, guilty for saying that
They should put a couple more mirrors in here
So I can stare at myself”
He plays with the idea of mirrors, being able to backwards reflect the album tracklist, and the idea of the baby face on the original album cover mirroring his adult face album cover on the deluxe version.
“Done sayin’ I’m done playin’ last time was on the outro”
This line refers to the block of lyrics I highlight in Pound Cake, which was the outro on the original version.
“Money got my whole family going backwards”
305 To My City
“We so far from finished, brought you right back so we could relive it”
Holy shit this is just getting weird now, he literally brought us back to the end for the beginning and now we’re reliving this album in a new light.
It is now the 3rd track on the album when reversed and he’s dropping lines; “we so far from finished!”
Hold On, We’re Going Home
Nothing really stands out for these 3 tracks; they just continue to push the new narrative of the album.
This is the culmination of it all, the defining track of the album, it’s dead center of both versions of the album, track number 7 if you listen frontwards or backwards.
In the first verse Drake is talking about and looking towards the future, in the second verse Drake is looking back in the past.
The harmonizing during the 2nd verse is played in reverse, similar to the Whitney Houston samples in Tuscan Leather.
From Time is the song version of both the covers put together 0_0.
Ever notice what the noise in the intro of this song is? Try a tape recorder rewinding… This begins the second half of the album, we’re beginning Drake’s growth from a child a man (Just like the album covers, funny how that works).
“Always hated the boy, but now the boy is the man, Mothafucka, I done grown up”
Again referencing the album covers…also this song is a noted favorite of Kevin Durant, who just attributed leaving OKC for Golden State to becoming a man.
Not much for these 2 tracks either, just still pushing the underlying narratives present is both versions of the album (girls, feelings, growing, maturity, being the man, etc etc).
Started From the Bottom
Started. From. The. Bottom. LITERALLY. The original version of the album we start at the bottom with Tuscan Leather which is now the last track on the album as we’ve found out.
Drake got so much shit for this song because he didn’t truly start from the bottom or the streets when it first came out but now looking at this song in this way that he means he literally started the original verson of the album from the bottom with Tuscan Leather. That makes it that much better, it’s fucking genius to be honest.
Furthest Thing’s beat change and final verse are genius, “this the shit I wanna go out to!” as the beat fades away we think it could be the end of the newly discovered album then…
Tuscan Leather’s incredible (top 3 all time) beat fades in perfectly where Furthest Thing left off.
This is the culmination of it all: the beat is created by a Whitney Houston sample that is reversed three different times. Below is a recording that shows what the original Whitney sample sounds like in the song unedited.
And then the track contains a different beat for each of the 3 verses, all containing the same Whitney Houston reversed sample. Then we start hearing the lyrics.
“Past and present when you have to mention..”
“Started from the bottom now we here nigga, we made it!”
We finally made it to the end!
“How much time is this nigga spendin’ on the intro? Lately I’ve been feelin’ like Guy Pearce in Memento”
This line just now becomes Drake’s best line of all time…
Then we finish this incredible album with the Curtis Mayfield sample that makes SO MUCH sense now…
“If there’s hell below. I’ll see you when you get there. Are you enjoyin’ yourselves? If we may we’d just like to close off with somethin’ a bit inspirational. Hopefully something a bit relevant as to us all are having the same fears, shedding similar tears, and of course dying in so many years. It don’t mean that we can’t have a good life. So we’d like to just maybe close out with something, some food for thought, for all of us”.
Nothing Was the Same was always my favorite Drake album but I never knew this Memento Theory until recently, and it’s brought a whole new listening experience to the album, it makes it brand new and exciting to investigate again. If you don’t believe me just listen to the album backwards and you’ll see how smoothly all the tracks flow into each other, just as well, if not better, than the original version. I put together a Spotify playlist on the album backwards below: