Tory Lanez Owns His Flaws on ‘The New Toronto 3’ (News or Reviews)

As originally published by Kyle Mullin on Exclaim!

On the cover, he’s cradling his kid, chains gleaming on their otherwise bare skin. And some of the lyrics on Tory Lanez’s new album therein, The New Toronto 3, capture the essence of its stark cover art.

“P.A.I.N,” for instance, finds Lanez rapping and singing in a yearning wail about the pride he takes in providing for his kin, as string samples soar and hand-tapped drum samples resound, somehow sounding both minimalistic and dramatic. On “Dope Boy’s Diary,” the Canadian MC peppers generic gangster lines with more revealing lyrics about wanting to shower his son with luxuries. Better still: Lanez vows later on that song to stave off death, in order to avoid disappointing his child for the umpteenth time, while searing key riffs and heartbeat mimicking percussion provide a fittingly epic backdrop. 

“Broke In a Minute” is another example of this LP’s tongue and groove vocals and instrumentals. Yes, it sadly lacks the heart wrenching vulnerability and candour of “Dope Boy’s Diary,” but it instead finds Lanez at his chest thumping finest. And when he compares the chains on his neck to majestic chameleons, after lewdly boasting about his virility, Lanez’s vocal vigour matches the song’s python-tight horn sample to such a tee that you’ll helplessly root for this villain, and revel in the guilty pleasures he dispenses. 

Lanez bridges those polarized aspects of his persona on “Adidas.” As synths and 808s distort the instrumental’s more soulful elements, Lanez details how his good intentions were similarly submerged by street temptations. The track features mile-a-minute spitting from the rapper as he rhymes off one pact with Satan after another, all in the name of dodging poverty, giving “Adidas” abundant replay value. “Who Needs Love” is equally compelling, albeit far less nuanced. The song amounts to little more than a kiss-off thematically — he even tells his clearly unforgettable ex to pucker up and plant one on his blinged-out necklace on the hook. Yet, Lanez sing-raps the track with such bottomless despair and sizzling scorn, listeners will be hard-pressed not to recall their own bitter rock bottoms. It’s reminiscent of a standout line on “Dope Boy’s Diary,” where Lanez spits about longing to be unfaithful, but admits he couldn’t stomach the receiving end of such infidelity.

By ensuring his every possible wart and scar is exposed, Lanez invites listeners to become intimately acquainted with the man behind the music. From the diamonds on the chains he hedonistically spits about while prospering to the shameless confessions he unveils at the nadir of despair, the way Lanez embraces his flaws makes his music stand out.

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