Transparency in hip-hop is a must. That sentiment isn’t ringing true as strongly as it once did, but hip-hop heads know if an artist is spitting lyrics about things they’ve never experienced, it takes the legitimacy out of their music and ultimately can devalue their artistic merit. That’s not to say they can’t create works of fiction to tell a story – hip-hop is all about that – but it’s easier for fans to appreciate the music of a person who’s lived the life they’re projecting. That’s where Tory Lanez stands out.
Ask some random rap music fan on the internet, and they’ll disregard everything Lanez has done in his career to date. They’ll say he’s a copy of a currently trending rapper, or he isn’t ‘bout that life or some other absurd claim internet fans throw at artists they don’t like. An artist like Tory Lanez (whose upbringing could easily play out like a movie) isn’t tough to understand if you actually listen to what he’s saying, and not just in his tracks; but in interviews as well.
Stopping by The Breakfast Club to chop it up with Charlamagne The God and Angela Yee, the Brampton artist spoke about his authenticity and why it’s important for his catalogue of music to represent who he is as a person. For him, music isn’t just some hustle he’s good at; he genuinely loves the art form and can’t fathom not writing his own music.
“Me, I take a standpoint on I am not singing another nigga’s song, that’s like wearing another nigga’s drawers, I’m not doing it,” said Lanez.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still had records where people have contributed to it, a certain part or whatever the case is and like, as a vibe and as we’re building of course, I’m always down for suggestions and things like that. I’m always down for trying to tap into peoples’ world as well, but when it come down to just letting somebody do the work for me, no there’s no fun in that. I love music like I’m not doing that, like I love this shit too much. I’ll die for this shit when it comes to this and God like those are the only two things I’d die for, that’s it.”
Coming up in the Toronto music scene around the likes of Drake and The Weeknd (both artists whose music has a more noir, melancholy type feel to it) the 25 year old rapper wanted to keep his own sound unique so he didn’t get lumped into what would be considered the ‘traditional Tdot sound.’ While he claims some responsibility for outsiders thinking all Toronto music sounded similar, his love of music kept him fresh enough to form his own musical lane.
“I feel like a lot of the times people have like, succumbed to this sound of like ‘yo, we gotta be these R&B niggas because everybody else was these dark R&B soundin niggas that came out before us’ and I’m not gonna lie, I have a piece in the part to do with that too,” he said.
“But at the same time it’s like, I like to make other music. I’m not sitting here singing to nobody all day, that’s just not who I am in real life you know what I’m sayin? It’s just not. I love being passionate at times but I also have a rough side to me, I also have edges.”
He displays that versatility quite often in his music. He’ll sing his heart out on one song, spit an eight minute freestyle right after, jump on a reggae/dancehall riddim and showcase his West Indian roots after that, and then delve deep into his inner most thoughts and lay it out for the audience over a mellow beat. This drive isn’t some practice makes perfect kind of deal – Lanez explains it stems from his deceased mother drilling it into his head that he should expect nothing less than greatness from himself.
“I’ll never settle for a second place or some sort of mediocrity like never like that’s just not me,” said the man born Daystar Peterson. “That’s because it was instilled by my mother and even though she died when I was 11 years old, and I’m the youngest out of six kids so you know me and my mom we had a specific relationship. So even though she died at that point, she left those morals with me and that’s what I kind of carry with me every single day.”
The full interview can be viewed below (runs about 55 minutes) and throughout, he speaks on a myriad of topics including: his paranoia about death, the meaning behind his latest album title, taking responsibility for the Drake beef, 50 Cent starring in a movie based on his albums, his struggles being broke before blowing up and more.