After being unfairly criticized for his previous two studio albums, Tory Lanez hits the sweet spot to please both general fans and his core audience.  

In the sports world, we love to give nicknames to individuals who “memify” themselves on social media. We glamorize our sports icons ranging from China Klay, Flat earth Kyrie and my personal favourite- Hoodie Melo. In Hip Hop, I feel like it’s only a matter of time until we start labeling artists work with a  time period that helped globalize themselves. For me, Mixtape Tory is a very real thing. After recording his first smash hit with ‘LUV’, it seemed as if Tory was at a crossroads in his career.  With an ever-evolving sound, Tory seemed glued to his R&B formula that brought him much of his fame and fortune.  With his debut studio album I Told You,  our beloved Mixtape Tory morphed into Mainstream Tory.

After taking a small hiatus from pumping out music, the One Umbrella head honcho delivered his most content-heavy album with March’s Memories Don’t Die. In a different era, with a different ear, Memories Don’t Die would have held over fans for much longer than it originally did.  Although to me it provided his most versatile project, blending notes of his R&B sound and his Rap sound together, the majority of fans didn’t gravitate towards it as I did. Nevertheless, it did more than just put a chip on his shoulder, it set him on fire.

Tory went on a tear throughout the summer, reintroducing Fargo Friday’s all the while ensuring he stayed in the spotlight and appearing on his contemporaries projects, Tory did no wrong while building anticipation for his project.

Almost immediately after listening to the album once, one thing was clearer than the other- Tory started from scratch. Tory threw away his R&B/ Reggae sound that was so prominent in I Told You, Tory dumped his content heavy lyrics into the trash that was the star in Memories Don’t Die, and Tory laid a foundation that seems eerily similar to the one he created in his mixtape repertoire The New Toronto.

Every song on Love Me Now? is shot with adrenaline, creating a  high-octane atmosphere which is only heightened by featuring heavy-hitting instrumental that aims to knock pictures off the walls and blow out the speakers in your moms car.  Tory’s ‘re-brand’ altered his lyrics to more laid back and braggadocios, something that seems to be the norm in our current state of Hip Hop. Don’t get me wrong, there are glimpses of Tory’s lyrical prowess that were supercharged by the hard-knocking beats, but with the way Tory delivered his verses on each song, there is no way you will notice them.

‘Love Me Now?’,  the album, which is really a mixtape dressed up as a album in which Tory based the foundation of his album around a vibe.  The atmosphere that Love Me Now creates with the main single of the album, ‘Talk To Me’.“As the main single of the project, and the first song truly promoted from the label,  I completely understand why it was chosen as “the one”from the label: It’s catchy, changes the atmosphere when you play it, and most importantly, features a flawless melody that can be echoed in clubs by Tory that his fans will love. As for Rich The Kid, featured on the second verse of this track, he gives us something that is solid enough to compliment Tory, albeit not taking Tory’s shine away from him.

To be quite honest, every song on Tory’s third studio album sounds like a single. Tory seems to be gearing this project more towards his fans than his critics, featuring some of the biggest names in the Hip Hop world that people have been waiting to see him collaborate with for years.“Duck My Ex” features someone who Tory gets consistently  compared to, Chris Brown, who matches Tory’s boundless energy decibel to decibel.  2 Chainz brings a surprise feature and delivers what 2 Chainz does-adding a well-needed 3rd dimension from all the vocals on the project.

To step away  from all the high octane music that is dripped all over the album, there seems to be one outlier. To give context, we very rarely see two titans in the same genre working together. There’s a reason we don’t see Drake and Kendrick working with another at the pinnacle of their careers, nor did we see Jay Z and 50 Cent in the heights of their career simply due to the fact its a dog eat dog world (and undoubtedly some ego-driven decisions behind the scenes).

Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez uniting with one another for a track is similar to Shaq and Kobe winning their first ring together.The long anticipated collaboration between Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez has finally come, and it does more than deliver, it exceeds and stands out. With the instrumental to the song so similar to Bryson’s catalog, Tory provides the perfect hand-off for him to shine bright, rapping/singing with a sense of urgency that matches his emotional lyrical content. Don’t let it fool you, though, Tory still does his thing on the second verse (with a nice shoutout to the 401), riding the beat really well and dropping lyrical gems here and there. Whenever an R&B hits you with the highway that he took to see his side chick, you know it’s special. But when it’s all said and done, this song is all about Bryson Tiller.

It seemed that this was supposed to be Tory Lanez’s career defining moment, an album filled with the who’s who’s of Hip Hop culture and creates a “collaborative mixtape” as he calls it rather than an album. Tory seems to have no problem parlaying most of the heavy lifting to his partners such as “If it ain’t right” A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie upstages Tory by spitting a soft, melodic verse  while On “Drip Drip Drip” Meek Mill channels a  newfound melody to star in the track.

Tory Lanez clearly feels like he has something to prove, and on Love Me Now, he reminds the Hip Hop community how talented he is. Tory still has one of the better ears in music, picking features that fit the song to perfection. Comfortable in his own skin, Tory provides a throwback to his mixtape day with his new project, leaving both old and new fans satisfied and excited for the future.

Grade:7/10

Best Tracks: Talk To Me, Keep In Touch, S.W.I.N.G, Kmj, If It Ain’t Right.

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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