Former friends, student debt, rapper Loyle Carner leaves no stone unturned in “Ain’t Nothing Changed,” a single from his new album Yesterday’s Gone. The track begins with a smooth, low-fi saxophone, which eventually takes the backseat to Carner’s rhymes and a traditional hip-hop boom-clap. The jazzy beat made me imagine Carner in a smoky bar, sitting isolated on a stool spitting these verses in between drags of a cigarette, but this is 2017, and dude probably doesn’t smoke. Despite the low-fi sample, listening to this song, and pretty much the entire album, allow you to hear every crack in Carner’s voice, which almost gives the same effect as an ASMR video would (especially with headphones).
The subject matter of the track is pretty straightforward: dealing with rising fame and fortune, and discovering which friends were real and who was fair-weather. A common trope for this album has been Carner’s candor, and this can be heard in the lines, “Walking like I’ve been talking the talk but can’t afford a phone / trust, I’m all alone panicking to play it safe.” Honesty and self-awareness has become a sort of shtick for Carner, but that should never be an issue for a rapper. His tendency for story telling reminds me of someone like J. Cole, simply trying to tell his listeners what he has seen, heard, and experienced. The problem that can arise with this type of rap is that it can become repetitive, and Carner seems to be responding to my sort of criticism by saying “they ask why every fucking song the fucking same / and I tell them it’s cause ain’t nothing changed.” While that is a fine, decorous explanation, I really hope Carner continues to grow and expand as an artist, and for his sake, that things start changing.