When Canada sprinted into the music scene higher than ever, led by OVO’s leading act Drake, we have personally witnessed some of the best artists to touch music in the last 10 years, PARTYNEXTDOOR, The Weeknd, & of course, Tory Lanez. The landscape of music coming from the North doesn’t exactly seem competitive from a listeners point of view. Instead of shutting each other down, there has been a pattern of artists putting each other on and spreading the wealth as Drake has over the past few years with his label, OVO. However, one artist we were blessed to receive, without Drake, has been none other than Tory Lanez.
One can never predict what’s next with Tory. We can never tell if his next released song will be influenced by dancehall, an old hit, or if he’s going to hit us with pure cypher bars – rapping wise. His proficiency and cleverness made us fall in love all over again with the songs we grew up listening to like “SMN”, featured on Chixtape 3, sampling Destiny Child’s “Say My Name”, “T.L.C”, featured on Chixtape 2, sampling TLC’s “No Scrubs”, and his infamous sample of the Proud Family theme song featured on Chixtape 4, “Proud Family”.
Lanez’s ability to rebirth classic jams makes you feel like a proud parent at your child’s graduation, causing you to reverently reflect on the journey from one point to the other.. He holds his own, on both rapping and singing lanes, leaving us with no idea as to what his next move will be. So when he drops, we know it’s going to be rewarding in some way.
Considering the evolution in new era of R&B, led by Brent Faiyaz, Daniel Caesar, and H.E.R., the competition is spicier than ever because there are so many quality artists on the surface now or rising to it. With a hiatus after Chixtape 5, The New Toronto 2, and his debut album, I Told You, Tory Lanez finally delivered his anticipated sophomore album Memories Don’t Die. With such a high momentum of eagerness, it also means that people are going to be quick to judge.
So in both negative and positive outlooks, here’s what we thought.. This album, for Tory Lanez, subtly had the job of showing fans that Tory has been, and will continue to be a part of this journey. These are the pros and cons of Memories Don’t Die:
Production On 100,000: I think we can all agree that the peak of Tory Lanez’s music comes from his execution on the Chixtape series. Yes, vocally, and lyrically, he gave us a taste of flavor no new school R&B artist has ever done. To be completely honest, there hasn’t been an artist in the past 10 years that’s killed samples like this other than the legendary Lil Wayne. The real MVP in this project is the executive producer of the album, Play Picasso. He seamlessly has been able to take us on an auditory trip of bliss and pain in a 12 second beat loop. Memories Don’t Die is filled with beats so strong that you could listen through without lyrics.
In addition to Picasso, production appearances come from the also notable Cashmere Cat, C-Sick, and OG Parker. There are no bad notes on the production of this album, period. Music heads truly may have been satisfied with an instrumental tape because the beats alone take you on a journey themselves.
Too Much Rapping, Maybe…: Truth be told, the beauty in Tory Lanez’s music lies within his singing. Nostalgia feels like cold water on a hot day. In each Chixtape, Tory took us back to where we never thought we left. Although he can rap, his prime comes in the hands of him singing. In Memories Don’t Die, it felt like we weren’t getting that version of Tory. Yes, he sung, less than he rapped, but Tory wasn’t in his bag as expected to be. For some reason it just wasn’t heavy enough. It held weight, yet something was still lacking. Nothing felt like “Friends With Benefits” or “Guns And Roses” featured on I Told You. But, I get it…
This is a clear combat and reflection of confidence in himself as an artist that he doesn’t have to put out music that all sounds the same, but selfishlessly, all we want is to hear him rip samples because those will always blow our mind more than ever. If he wasn’t going to be ripping samples, the least he could have done was sing to us, creating songs that made us want to cry of satisfaction. We didn’t really get that on Memories Don’t Die. The select songs that did provide melodic satisfaction were “4 Me”, and his first single from the album, “Skrt Skrt”. Although both of those songs exemplify heavy caribbean influences, we could hear the dramatization and vulnerability in his vocals, something we don’t typically get in his rap; we needed that.
Thanks For Putting Us On: I’m here to fight all Drake comparisons, however, one point I cannot go without acknowledging is the way Drake takes risks when it comes to putting other artists on. In each album, even more so evident in More Life, there is an artist featured that majority of us have never heard before. What this does is puts us on through the credibility of the project and the artist who is putting us on; Tory hit the nail on the head with this one. I have no idea who Mansa is but his feature in “48 Floors” made me do a double take. The beat switch was so notably different that Tory could’ve just put this man on a track of his own and called it an interlude.
Regardless of how it came, after hearing that verse, we needed more of that. Granted. Mansa makes another appearance just 5 songs later on in “Hillside”, with production credits on both tracks featured as well. As many can relate, google will now be your best friend once again, because we must find out who this guy is, for the purpose of saving all quality sounds…
Can He Get His Own Lane?: (biting flows) I have gripes with everybody… Music is subjective but what we will not continue to do is compare Drake to Tory Lanez. They sound nothing alike and never have. Listen, all music is interestingly a regurgitation and/or influence of someone who has come from the past. Just because we all know Drake very well, does not mean he owns every flow he bestows… so stop it. The debate becomes ignorant when you sit back and compare flows, you would only be tracing back hundreds of years. The only influence of Drake came within the sample of “Pound Cake” on “Hate To Say”.
Not only do I disagree with the fact that Tory bites off of Drake’s flow, but I also disagree with the fact that Tory sounds like anybody. His impact and rise to fame has been guided from the simple fact that he is original. In I Told You, the only thing he completely bit was his skits which were similar to those of Kendricks, Good Kidd M.A.A.D. City. But even in that case, I’m sure his intention on the sample was purposeful as he didn’t need to touch that album by any means. Let’s praise the fact that on Memories Don’t Die, he didn’t bite a damn thing.
It Seems Like He Doesn’t Miss: One conclusion I’ve come to over the past 4-5 years is the fact that Tory Lanez does not make bad music. Of course, he has certain projects and songs that don’t hit as hard, but they sure do hit in one way or the other. Not only must we start acknowledging this, but we have to realize that he recognizes this as well, which is why I’m sure he feels comfortable dropping two mixtapes at once without the fear that he might be overwhelming us. Whether he’s hopping on someone’s track as a feature, turning someone else’s song into his own as he did with “Controlla” or “Wild Thoughts”, or dropping yet another long awaited album, he’s so musically talented that what we will not do, is act like he misses often.
Whether it’s only 3 songs or 13, when Tory Lanez drops, we’re guaranteed to get some fire in there somewhere. “Don’t @ Me”, just listen, and if you disagree, you will see. He’s holding the light of Canada high right now, holding the number 1 spot on Canada. And one thing he has over the other phenomenal artists of the country, is that he will not be boxed into a specific lane. We have little doubt at this point that he can do it all.
It’s only been a week, so we must give it time to digest. In due respect, Tory shook up the industry once again whether it was due to negative or positive feedback. If you haven’t had the chance to stream the album yet, do so here. With 18 hefty songs and plenty of star studded appearances from the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Future, 50 Cent, and Fabulous, Memories Don’t Die gives us more than enough content to analyze. His first album, I Told You, comfortably peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard 200. Memories Don’t Die did him one better on the US charts, coming in at number 3. Question is, does it deserve number 1?
Check the album out here, and let us know what you think! I will say this though, the time has come where we should appreciate what did work, in addition to what didn’t work. If Memories Don’t Die wasn’t a classic, with Tory Lanez, we know one is sure to come soon…