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Tory Lanez Discusses Upcoming "Talk To Me" Remix With Lil Wayne And Staying True To Self

The singer breaks down the inspiration behind Love Me Now, and his not-so-secret collabo with Lil Wayne.

Love Me Now? debuted No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rap Album charts with no promotion, and it’s not hard to see why. Charged up off the success of his sophomore effort, Memories Don’t Die, Tory Lanez came all gas no breaks for his second release of 2018.

Highly regarded as safe for its feature-filled tracklist, Lanez took a brand new approach with the making of Love Me Now?. Unlike his first two studio albums, the 26-year-old artist hones into the mixtape mentality that first accredited him as an artist to watch back in 2014 when he dropped Lost Cause. With the word, “album” comes an unwavering pressure that’s difficult to shake, reveals Lanez. Rather than manufacturing his bars and inserting his verses into the mold of what could be considered a classic album, the Toronto-native has opted to return back to his intuitive ways.

“I just wanted to be free with the music,” Lanez tells VIBE. “I didn't wanna have to worry about which song needed a rap verse or which song needed me to sing on the hook.” In freeing his creativity, Lanez was able to craft the album that he has always pictured. From the cover art to the typography of the tracklist, Love Me Now? proves to be the rapper’s most thought out project to date.

Sitting with VIBE to discuss the making of his new album, Lanez evades the puppetry of the industry. With a solid effort to sustain the qualities that make him unique, Lanez talks sharing his sauce with other artists, the upcoming "Talk To Me" remix with Lil Wayne and the inspiration behind Love Me Now?.

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VIBE: The first thing that stood out to me on Love Me Now? was the album cover. It's like an intersection between The Brady Bunch and The Muppets. What inspired that?

Tory Lanez: Yeah [laughs]. The little puppet that we have his name is Lil' Tory.

Do you still have it?

Yeah, I still got it. He does all my interviews with me and stuff. But nah, pretty much I wanted to create something that felt a little bit retro but also still felt innovative. I didn’t really wanna be on the cover as much, so I figured it would be better to just kind of use a puppet version of myself, you know?

When you first announced the album, you said something along the lines of "Don't become their puppet." Can you expand on that?

When you first come into the game and you're in the industry, I feel like there are a lot of opinions and a lot of things that people on the labels and in the comments and blogs say about you that end up taking a hold on you. It puts the strings in the hands of the audience and when you allow that to happen, you start changing the things about yourself that were the original qualities and made you unique in the first place. So I say don't be their puppet or don't let them make you their puppet because you don’t let people take away your creativity and you can never let people take away your originality.

 "At this point it's like why not get out there and give people like a taste of what I do, you know?" -Tory Lanez

This is your second project this year and this one definitely sounds a lot different than Memories Don't Die, but not in a bad way.

Thank you! I appreciate it.

You said that you treated this one like a mixtape because that’s where you host your best music. Can you take me back to that original thought process?

Yeah definitely. My mixtapes have always been all original music, but at the same time, my mixtapes are really dope because I don't really put too much thought into them. When the word album comes around, I kind of feel like ‘Damn, it's a lot of pressure’–like I gotta make sure that everything is here and all the right pieces of a classic album are in here and I don't really feel like that no more. Now I just kind of feel like when you make music, you make music and whatever comes out comes out.

Word. I think the best music comes organically.

I would say my best music lives in the mixtapes because those are also the places where the Chixtapes are and where my R&B is and all those different little projects that people have an emotional attachment too.

Did you strive to do that with this album?

I just wanted to be free with the music. I didn't wanna have to worry about which song needed a rap verse or which song needed me to sing on the hook. I just wanted to do something where whatever happened, happened.

Love Me Now? (stylized LoVE me NOw)  is packed with features. How did those go down? Were you just kicking it with people or were they more planned out?

No. Really what it was with me was like–there was a point in time where I was like you know what? I gotta create something that is catered to my audience and to my fans. I knew that there's music that they wanted me to collab on with other people.

I hear you.

There are songs that they've been wanting me to do and I just never did or people that they wanted me to collaborate with that I never did and I feel like at this point it's like why not get out there and give people like a taste of what I do, you know? I've been writing for a lot of these people for years, I've been giving a lot of people my sauce for a long time, so it's like why not just do this?

Did you get to work in the studio with anyone? I know a lot of music is made through disconnected media files.

I lot of stuff I did in my house though.

You have a studio in your house?

Well,l I got a little set up in my house, but that's where I record most of my stuff. I've recorded a lot of the Chixtapes there. It's just the same setup it's like a two like metal things, I don't know it's kind of hard to explain it, like these two metal things, a laptop, two speakers and a mic.

Casual tings. This is in Toronto?

Miami.

Oh, so you’re right there. There wasn't like a session with anyone that came by?

It’s not that there wasn't a session. There were some people that came to the crib and were like "Aight, imma record this right now in here." Trey Songz came and he recorded himself [laughs] He just went on the laptop and recorded his verse himself and stuff.

Did you have like a lot of fun with a specific track? Like what would you say you're most proud or if those two are two separate tracks?

I don't know if it's what I’m most proud of, but I enjoyed making "The Run Off," I enjoyed making "Ferris Wheel"–that was a fun one with me and Trippie. Just a vibe. He came in the studio with that record actually. Originally he came into the studio and had that record and then I think he played it for me one time and I was like "Yo, I need this record." Then he played it again and I was like "Nah I'm taking this record” [laughs] and then I just jumped on it and it was cool.

"Ferris Wheel" sparked a small dance challenge.

Yeah [laughs].

What were your thoughts when you first say that? With the rising popularity of dance challenges, do you think you need a challenge to get a number one song?

 

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I think it exposes the song but no no no no, not at all. I do think music is music at the end of the day. If it's good, it's good. But I do think when something is apart of something, it makes it bigger because it makes more people aware of the song and that people are doing whatever to this song specifically for some reason. Everybody likes to dance in a weird way and even if they dance in a weird way to themselves when no one is around or they dance can't dance in front of people, everyone likes to move in a way. At least that's how I feel.

I agree.

You know? Everyone kind of likes to dance so I feel like it just happens.

You're an artist that has a lot of music coming out at once. I know before this album rollout started you released your track with Ozuna, which led to El Agua. How is that album going?

It's going good. I'm just getting a couple of more features on it. I wanted to have like all of the people I wanted to work with on it like J Balvin and Maluma and other people that I feel like I was rushing a little bit of it at one point, but now I have certain moving pieces that make it dope, I just wanna make sure I have everybody.

Do you speak Spanish?

I can sing in Spanish. I can speak it a little bit, but I'm not good at it, I'm not fluent. I can't fluently speak a bunch of Spanish, but I can write music in Spanish. I can read it and I can read it but I can't like fluently speak it.

How'd you learn?

DuoLingo.

Really? That's funny.

Yeah. It actually really works though, it's taught me a lot.

So when you make music, do you just make it all and then kind of compartmentalize it and decide what projects it's going on?

Exactly. Like right now I'm working on Chixtape 5, El Agua, and another project with Benny Blanco. Those are the three things that are on my mind right now.

Aren't you also working on something with Meek Mill?

We have a collaborative little thing. My collaborative projects, I don't really count those.

Why not?

It's not all me. It's somebody else doing what they gotta do too, you know? Me and Meek and me and Chris Brown have had times where we just have so much music that it's like what are we gonna do with this? Why not put it out? [Laughs]

Do you guys know when you're gonna drop that?
I would imagine just next year. I've dropped a lot of stuff this year, so I would imagine that a lot of this is gonna drop next year.

Your video with Meek just came out. Are there any that you're shooting or planning to put out?

Everything. I'm gonna shoot a video for everything. Every. Single. Thing.

That's gonna be dope.

Yeah, I'm gonna go hard.

Yeah, it seems like you have a lot of fun with your visuals. 6ix9ine was in the video for “Talk To Me,” how did that happen?


6ix9ine was around for a little minute and I was like one of the first dudes who kind of was just like you know what? I'm gonna accept this guy just to the public [laughs] but yeah we shot that in L.A. I was shooting and he was like "What are you doing?" and I'm like "Yo I'm in LA" he's like "Yo I'm in here" and I was like "Aight well pull up to the shoot," and he pulled up.

You’ve been moving steadfastly in the industry since 2014. What song or collaboration would you say is your favorite song you ever put out–or haven't put out?

I don't know. I don't know about the best song ever or anything like that.

You don't have one song you vibe with the most?

I mean as of now it's the "Talk To Me" remix I got with Lil Wayne but nobody knows that I have the song [Laughs].

Are you gonna put it out? You can't say that and not put it out.

I'm gonna put it out this week, but I've been holding it for mad long so it's been like what I've been vibing to.

Aside from the remix, now that you’ve completed your releases for 2018, what would you say is your favorite project you’ve released so far?

Lost Cause is probably my favorite project.

Why?

I think it's just the most raw, rough but real project that I have. It's just a different time in my life that I'll never really forget.

What makes it so unforgettable?

What I was going through, you know? My living conditions and what I was put through at that time ended up making it very meaningful for me.

Last question because the people wanna know. Why is your album tracklist typed out the way it is?

You know how when people get collage art and then they like take a "C" from a magazine, a quote for a newspaper and a cursive "L"? It’s really inspired from that [laughs] but everyone thinks it's the Spongebob meme.

No [laughs] I just thought the capital letters were gonna spell something out.

I was gonna do that but then I was like “Nah I'm just doing too much.” My music is art to me and in my head, I picture all my songs on a college board that I’m piecing together and making as I go. That's why I wrote it like that.

Stream Love Me Now? above.

READ MORE: Premiere: Tone Tone And Tory Lanez “Give It To Ya” On New Radio Banger

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J.Cole, Teyana Taylor And Other Snubs Of The 2019 Grammy Nominations

It's that time of year again when inner circles and strangers on the Internet debate who's up for a gramophone.

On Friday (Dec. 7), the nominees for 2019's Grammy Awards (Feb. 10) were announced to a span of hot takes, early but informed predictions, and a wall of confusion as to why certain artists were overlooked. While some entertainers excitedly received the good news (Cardi B discovered her nods while leaving a courthouse), others were left scratching their heads.

Here's a look at why those who were snubbed by the Recording Academy deserved to be nominated.

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Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

Some of music's biggest stars attended Billboard's annual Women in Music event on Thursday night (Dec. 6).

Pop star Ariana Grande was awarded with the night's highest honor, "Woman Of The Year," while SZA, Janelle Monae, Cyndi Lauper, Hayley Kiyoko, and Kacey Musgraves were awarded with subsequent prestigious honors.

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The 23-year-old MC and first-time Grammy nominee confirmed with VIBE she's working on "something really special" with fellow Philadelphian and friend Meek Mill. She also stated that while the accolades for her work have been exciting, she's more excited for society to stop gendering dope artists, especially in the hip-hop game.

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Watch our recap video above.

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Pusha-T Pushes The Culture Forward Through Mentorship With New Discovery Platform

“I actually told [my manager] Shiv, I’m not doing any more interviews,” Pusha-T ironically admits to VIBE in an exclusive sit-down.

It seems about right since the rapper has endured a relentless news cycle this year, both for promoting his highly-acclaimed album DAYTONA and his feud with Drake.

He’s perched upright in a swivel chair in the studio of Lower Manhattan’s Electric Lady Sound Studios, a venue that easily has one of the richest musical histories – built by Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and recorded legends like Stevie Wonder and David Bowie.

Interestingly enough, Pusha has forfeited his previous promise on a particularly muggy day in November, to talk not about his multiple wins, but his latest project with 1800 Tequila. The G.O.O.D. Music show-runner has partnered with the brand to launch “1800 Seconds,” a new artist discovery platform that highlights unsigned artists from around the country. For its inaugural project, Pusha served as a mentor to 10 artists on the rise – Sam Austins (Detroit), T Got Bank (Brooklyn), Cartel Count Up (Hampton, VA), Hass Irv (Harlem), Nita Jonez (Houston), Trevor Lainer (Wilmington, NC) Mona Lyse (Detroit), Don Zio P (Middletown, CT), Tyler Thomas (Los Angeles), and Ant White (Philadelphia) – to curate a compilation album comprised of 10 new tracks.

Pusha personally selected each artist and challenged them to write and record a new track that showcases why they are the premier talent to watch. He sat down with each artist for more than one hour over the span of a week, observing little quirks, analyzing their sound and assessing their strengths. As he runs us through the album’s tracklist, he smiles, prefacing each single with an anecdote about the artist. Tyler Thomas is a notable favorite amongst the group and matches Pusha’s discipline in writing; Harlem’s Hass Irv is a verified sneaker dealer who boasts some of the most sought-after Jordans in his collection; Detroit’s Mona Lyse is a bonafide 90’s rap connoisseur. Push notes that she can pump out facts on artists like Notorious B.I.G. with such precision that even he has to take notes.

While this opportunity probably comes as a chance in a lifetime for the handful of artists, whose backgrounds, ages, and identities range tremendously, it seems to be just as monumental for Pusha-T.

This project should be seen as a win for hip-hop as it merges the gap between veterans and rookies, which in the past, has been broadened by various riffs between the two parties. Some of the seasoned titans may not understand the new wave, but Pusha-T alludes to mentorship and collaborations as a thing of the future and likely the next phase of his career. “This is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business,” he says. “I think I have my hand on the pulse on what’s going on musically out here… People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, ‘aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.’ And really, I do. I enjoy it.”

In celebration of the album’s release, all 10 of the selected artists will perform their recorded tracks, followed by a performance by Pusha himself in New York City's Sony Hall on Dec. 5. The compilation album will officially debut on Dec. 7.

In VIBE’s exclusive interview with Pusha-T, we discuss 1800 Tequila’s brave courageous new school of young rappers, the importance of paying it forward, and retirement.

The first 1800 Seconds compilation album is available now. Listen to it and check out our interview with Pusha-T below. 

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VIBE: Can you give us a rundown on how you selected these artists?

Pusha-T: It was a vetting process between us and 1800. I would look for guys that were a strong lyricist, guys who're into melody. Just, you know, small followings, but I thought they were dope.

That’s interesting because in this era of music people focus on the people with the massive followings on social media.

You know, you got to think, if it’s too big then it’s not really special to see it in this process.

Very true. Your music has pretty much always stayed true to your sound and brand. So did you find it challenging to work with this pool of new artists that follow so many of the new trends in hip-hop?

Nah, I think that this is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business. Man, I’m performing in front of 18 to 45 [years old] every night, and it trips me out to see the people get hype over “Grinding” and the people that just know me since 2013. But you know, with that being said, I think I have my hand on the pulse, on what’s going on musically out here. I’ve learned how to enjoy it. I enjoy all types of rap. People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, “aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.” And really, I do. I enjoy it. I mean, how could you not? To be in it like this, how could I not find appreciation in everything that’s going on?

The way you answered my last question seems like you’re considering retirement or at least exploring what that looks like. But you’re right in the thick of it all, so that’s very interesting.

Yeah, man. I don’t think lyric-driven hip-hop goes out of style. I think that stays around forever, and then I feel like you retire when you’re out of the mix of it and out of the culture and lifestyle of it. When you start not caring about hip-hop aesthetics and just being first and competing, then you supposed to be like, alright cool, I’m out. But until then, I still know what’s fresh to put on and so on and so forth.

One of the biggest differences between vets and new artists is the communities they live in and the things they witness as youth. Did you see some of those differences reflected in their music while working with them?

Yeah. As a veteran artist, I was speaking about what was going on outside at that very moment. I think the newer artists are more introspective. They’re more about themselves and trying to convey messages from their heart. They’re trying to sell you on them, whether they want to party [or] they’re heartbroken. It’s not so much looking out the project window and saying what’s going on. It’s like, I don’t even want to go outside. I’m in my room, and y'all don’t even know I’m writing and I’m going to show y’all one day. It’s all about that.

That seems kind of overwhelming or can come on too strong at times, no?

Nah. As a writer, you dial in on things… You know when somebody says something in a song like, “oh you meant that.” Or you were so intricate with the description of that, you had to get that off. So that’s a score as a writer, me listening to somebody like that. That’s a good thing.

What’s the greatest lesson that you have given this new generation?

I think the greatest lesson for me and the position I’m in right now is opening up these corporate opportunities. They do everything themselves. They’re shooting their own videos, recording themselves. They’re writing, producing, and recording themselves. They’re damn near engineering. One of the girls, [Nita Jonez], she was like, “Yeah, I just be knocking little stuff out while I’m at the crib.” I’m like, I don’t even do that. I don’t even know how to finesse all that. But they’re so self-sufficient. Only thing I could try to do is just package it for them the best way possible. They all got dreams of being huge. A lot of that has to do with the art and what they’re doing, but how it’s presented [as well]. And that’s what I try to show 'em and teach and help 'em with.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from them?

Man, there are just absolutely no rules. No rules at all. They’re such free spirits. They don’t even record how I do. I come in a with a new notepad, pen, and I write like that. I have to see it. It helps me memorize it. They come in and run straight to the mic and just be who they are. And they find themselves through it all. Not everybody; there were some other writers in there, like, Hass and Tyler. Tyler [is] so good at it. It comes out just that precise or damn near close. And then he’ll go and chop it up, make it right a little bit. But they just have that unorthodox attack in the studio. I’m more like, I want to sit down, chill… I don’t even like being in the studio that long. I probably write at home, then I’ll come here and figure out the rest. It’s a very formatted type of thing. And some of the spontaneity and some of the energy probably gets lost in my way because they come in and vibe immediately. Things that may just happen on the spur of the moment, they catch it. When I come in, it’s just all there. Either I’ve written it already or I’m writing it and that’s just what it is. I may lose an adlib. I may lose something that’s quirky in a song that just happens that probably won’t happen for me, but they’ll catch every time.

Do you think there’s a way to balance that incorporates both of those worlds – yours and theirs – to make that ideal way to create?

Well, I think it would have to come from practice. Certain people learn a certain way. Honestly, there’s no difference in what they do than what Jay-Z does. He just practices so much that way that his mind works and processes things really fast. And you know, he’s just really confident in not seeing anything and catching the vibe and going at it. Theirs is just unorthodox. It’s the same thing though. And then as they do it more and better, it’ll get more concise.

In any field, with mentorship there’s only so much you’re willing to take from your mentor before you’re ready to do it yourself. Who were your mentors, and what were some of the things you did and didn’t take from them?

From afar, it would have to be Teddy Riley. Him moving to the area, Virginia Beach, where I’m from – him alone was like wait a minute, music is a real thing. Oh man, there’s a Ferrari down my street. I can’t believe this. I’m seeing Jay-Z’s here. Michael Jackson’s in Virginia Beach for what? You know, shooting a video, all of these things that happened, let me know that this is a real thing and not just for the people on TV. Now in arm’s reach, you got Pharrell and Chad. You got my brother [Malice] who taught me how to write. He actually taught me that MC Hammer wasn’t a rapper when I thought he was. Pharrell literally taught me how to count bars. It’s just been so many lessons between those guys; they taught me everything. They taught me to look at a song, try to see it the whole way through and not just get up and write for the sake of writing. Pharrell always told me, “you may not have something to say today.” Like if I get stuck, “It’s fine. You’ll get to it. We’ll find it another day.” Never force it though.

There’s a huge divide in the genre as far as rookies vs. vets go. This project is so good because it’s paying it forward. Do you think that’s both a necessary and important part of the culture that needs to be restored?

Yes. Well, no. You know what? It’s not for everyone. It’s not for everybody to do. Some people are so stuck in their heyday that they can’t even see what’s going on outside. Everybody that I’ve ever liked in rap music, I probably have had a longer career than all of them. Like whoever I thought was the greatest in my time, I be like, bro, wait a minute they only have five years, five albums? What? When I really think about it, it’s because they all got stuck in their heyday. And that was a hell of a time. The greatest of all great raps, but you know, they couldn’t see any further than that. And when something new came up, they was like, “Yeah, but y’all don’t like us because we…” They just start getting washed and their jeans start fitting differently and they pick the wrong size. They just get stuck in that time period and before you know it, it’s skinny jean time and they got on fucking size 42s and they weigh a buck 50 and they look crazy. And it’s wrong because you get stuck because you don’t embrace and try to help and learn from what’s coming in next. And you should. This is music. You can never stop learning. You have to continuously learn with this forever. It’s just what it is until you just say I’m done. It’s not for everybody man. If you’re not trying to push hip-hop forward, then no, you’re going to be washed and you should be. You should be. I think it’s corny. This is the youngest genre of music. The youngest, most powerful, most influential. We should not be at a point where the elders are knocking the rookies. It’s corny. That’s an effort to stunt the growth of the genre. And that is just totally wrong, 100 percent.

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