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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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When you try and hit the #FerrisWheelChallenge but it ain't for you @theshiggyshow 😂💯🕺🏾 (via @torylanez)

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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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Interview: Suave House Founder Tony Draper Links With Celebs Like 2 Chainz, G Herbo and Nick Cannon To Feed Their Cities

The harrowing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately disrupted Black communities across the United States with cities like Chicago being among the hardest hit. Throughout the year, artists from the city have stepped up and held socially distanced food drives and PPE donations across the city’s South and West sides. With his deep ties to Chicago since the early 90s, Suave House Records founder/entrepreneur Tony Draper, alongside NBA veteran Ricky Davis, made the Chi’ their next stop as part of the nationwide Feed Your City Challenge this past October 17th at the Pullman Park Community Center.

The chilly, yet bright and sunny Saturday saw hundreds of people drive through the parking lot of the complex, receiving groceries from the many volunteers, gathered from across the city. Masked up with PPE in the trenches with the civilians were local natives and celebrity supporters like Chitown’s Grammy winning producer/music executive No ID, rap star G-Herbo, new rapper Queen Key, NBA star Jabari Parker to media/music entertainer Nick Cannon. Draper and Davis were handing off items and loading boxes of farm-fresh produce and meats in the trunk of cars, and offloading the 95,000 pounds of food to feed 7,000 residents. While they were not in attendance, Common with Jhene Aiko and Social Justice Collective donated funds for the free groceries.

“You can’t lead the people until you feed the people. We’re out here in the community in a real way. People always talk about what’s going on in Chicago and these are the things going on in Chicago. Positive things for the community during a time like this. People coming together and it’s a wonderful event,” said Cannon.

For Draper, bringing the Feed Your City Challenge to Chicago and being able to pull it off successfully was crucial because October 17th, marks the 24th anniversary of the death of one of Chi’s most influential DJs, Rapmaster Pinkhouse, who passed away in 1996. “It feels like myself and my partner [Ricky] Davis coming to Chicago and partnering with Common, No ID, Jhene Aiko, Nick Cannon, G-Herbo, Jay Allen, [local FM radio] Power 92 and Pat Edwards was a sign from God that it’s meant to happen on this day. Even though Pinkhouse is gone, he’s still influencing the south side of Chicago and he’s still sending us blessings. We had to pull it off, we had to,” Draper said with conviction. 

Meanwhile, Power 92.3’s DJ Pharris, DJ Nehpets, DJ Commando, DJ Amaris and Hot Rod were on the 1s and 2s while Parker, Hot Rod, G-Herbo, and community activists Joey G and Nico Naismith played basketball with the kids. A nonprofit Hoop Bus was set up with a small hoop with Black Lives Matter symbols and the names of victims who were killed by police officers. 

G-Herbo, who has been volunteering his time to the kids of Chicago throughout 2020 says that events like this are important to build and strengthen Black unity across the city. “It’s beyond just being able to feed and provide, it’s allowing people to feel unity in the city. This is the city coming together and a lot of important and powerful people coming from the city, all walks of life coming together for a positive reason and that’s what it’s all about.” When asked if this event defied the stigma of Chicagoans not being unified, Herbo exclaimed, “Absolutely! We unified right now and it’s only gon’ get better, so we’re just trying to lead by example and make this normal. This is not just an event, this gotta be the normal for guys like myself and for the city.”

And the people who showed up to receive their free groceries were more than appreciative. Takara, a mother from the Southside of Chicago says that while she found out about the food drive at the last minute,“It’s a lot of food out here, a lot of good people out here and it’s something that we need. Events like this are very necessary and it’s filling the need for families who can’t feed their children during these times. I wish I could have volunteered and done something more, but we need this.”

In a one-on-one with VIBE, the legendary Tony Draper talks about his connections to Chicago, the importance and impact of the Feed Your City Challenge, the role celebrities play in activism, and more. 

VIBE: Earlier you shared that Oct. 17th was also the day that Rapmaster Pinkhouse passed away. For the younger readers who might not know who Rapmaster Pinkhouse is, could you share who he was and why he was so important to Chicago?

Draper: For young people that don't understand how music was heard back then, there was no social media [in the early 90s], there was no Instagram, so you had to get your record to the hottest person in the city. That person had to make a decision about whether it was good or not. And if that person touched your record in Chicago, that person would spread, it was automatic. That’s what happened to a young Tony Draper with 8Ball & MJG’s first albums. He put his hands around it and he exposed it to the Chicago market. Every time I think about Chicago, I always think about Pinkhouse. Pinkhouse was the main reason why I even came to Chicago.

Talk about that. What was Chicago like for you when you first came here?

Coming to Chicago was a very interesting moment for me because when I came, I had my hat cocked a certain type of way and I didn’t know the rules and regulations. And he told me, “Tony, man you gotta keep that hat straight (laughs). And I kept it straight ever since. So, for me, doing my journey as a young Black man from the inner city, raised by a single parent, establishing Suave House at 16 years old, seeing what I went through to establish [the company], and make it a force to be reckoned with. That was an accomplishment, but also I wanted to touch people I knew understood the music and understood where I was coming from and the importance of a young Black man that was a true, independent CEO and giving me the avenue to get my music heard. I’m from Memphis, raised in Houston, but Chicago is Suave House’s biggest market to this date. They supported everything Suave House did and I wanted to bless them [with the Feed Your City Challenge], the same way they blessed me.

With the conversation within the music business revolving around Black Lives Matter and supporting Black communities, what do you think it’ll take to get many of these CEO and executives from the major labels to support these communities like what you and many of the artists have been doing across the country?

I think they have to be involved with people they’re not comfortable with. Stop giving money to these organizations you think is giving the money to Black people, because they’re not. Nobody is holding these organizations accountable. Do business with somebody that has their finger on the pulse. A person that you know is in the music business that has been very successful in the business. Like right now, the Feed Your City Challenge, we’re in our ninth city. We’ve had eight of the top music artists host these cities without funding from the parent companies. [The artists] are giving the money themselves. Jhene Aiko gave money herself. Nick Cannon, himself. Rick Ross, 2 Chainz…Pee from Quality Control. 

Pee was on vacation in Mexico and he took a private jet back to Atlanta just to attend Feed Your City in Atlanta. He didn’t have to do that, but he did because he cares about where he’s from. He cares about the area. He wants to take [talent] from the area, but he also wants to give back to that community. See, white people want to come and exploit your community, but don’t want to build a library over there, never build a basketball court, never build anything. When an artist is dead, they say ahhh aahh ummm. If you wanted to demonstrate good character, you would have said, ‘I made a lot of money off that artist. Let me do something for that community as a token of appreciation for birthing that particular artist.’

I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before.

And you’ll never see it unless I do it and I am going to do it. That’s why I’m in Chicago. I’m going to every city that has blessed me and fed my family because every time I feed myself, I feed my family, my loved ones, it comes from my fans. My fans gave me the opportunity by buying my records. I had a dream, I had a drive, but without the opportunity, you might not have heard of Tony Draper. So, I’m always appreciative of people that have helped me, that’s why I want to help them. I’m in the best place I could ever be in my life. I’m 49 years old, I’m successful, I’m good. Bro, you want to know what makes me happy? Giving to somebody else. There’s another star out there that’s hoping and praying that they could get an opportunity and if I could give them that opportunity, I’ll give it to them. I don’t relish in the attention; I relish in the accomplishment. Let me help somebody. And if I help them and they become successful, they don’t owe me a quarter. I won’t sign them to a management deal or nothing. I just want you to acknowledge it and pass it on. See, we got to learn how to pass it on.

With the timing of this event brought on by the pandemic, how do you feel about it all?

I think it was God’s mission. With COVID that’s really unfortunate, a lot of people lost their lives during this pandemic. A lot of people have lost their jobs, their homes, their properties. My heart goes out to them. But if me and Ricky Davis can put a smile on a mother’s face, a father’s face and feed their children, that’s all I need. I remember me and my mother going to churches and food banks, walking with free government cheese, powdered eggs and we was happy. We were so happy, smiling and grateful. I think without that, I don’t think we would have made it to the following week. So, I’m always thankful for everything God blessed me with. I don’t think I’m special. I think that I had a plan and I stuck to my plan and made it happen.

Suave House has had a lot of artists who have always been outspoken about social and political issues, [similar to like an] Ice Cube recently. Considering that, and what you’re doing with these artists for the Feed Your City Challenge, do you think that the role of the celebrity today is to get in front of these issues or to fall back and support the people who're already doing the work?

I think it’s a choice. For me, I’m not a city official, I’m not a politician. I’m more comfortable with doing and getting my hands dirty on the ground. If I was in Chicago building houses for people, I would actually be there. I wouldn’t [just] send no money or send a crew there. I would be there. That’s how I feel blessed. I feel blessed by actually talking to the people and them seeing me out there distributing groceries. I feel good when a person drives up in their car and they pop their trunk and say ‘Draper?! You putting groceries in my car?!’ And they may be happy about ‘Space Age Pimpin’’ or ‘I’m So Tired of Ballin’’ or whatever, but just the mere fact that they were happy about me putting groceries in their car meant more to me than anything else. I think it’s a choice you make as an individual.

For a lot of people, some celebrities end up causing harm because their celebrity and actions might overshadow the actual issue.

You know what though? Without you being a celebrity, you might not be heard. So why not use that platform to be heard? I think LeBron James is phenomenal. I think Ice Cube is phenomenal. You don’t have to agree with him, but you have to respect him for speaking his mind and trying to get something for Black people. Nobody else did it! Nobody else took the initiative to write a Black America contract and present it to both [Biden and Trump] camps. So, I think that was a phenomenal move, whether I agree with it or not, it was still a phenomenal move. We got to stop with all this goddamn talking and do some action.

Draper and Davis’s Feed Your City Challenge will be arriving in Compton, California as their next stop on November 21.

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Interview: T.I. Talks Activism, Verzuz Battle, And His Desire To Produce A Biopic On His Life Before Fame

Although Tip "T.I." Harris has earned some very respectable stripes as an emcee for his successful rap career, the self-proclaimed “King of the South” moniker really began to take true form once he stepped into his community activism calling. He’s acted in blockbuster films opposite Denzel Washington, Paul Rudd and Kevin Hart, but his willingness to speak truth to power has shown an unwavering commitment to being on the good side of history, as opposed to choosing silence to secure a spot on the good side of Hollywood.

During this recent conversation, Tip talks about his upcoming Verzuz battle with Jeezy, politics, the Trap Music Museum, and his desire to make his TV/film directorial debut.

Be sure to check out his newest album, L.I.B.R.A available on all streaming platforms.

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Ziggy Marley's First Time Voting In America

No more long talking from politicians. Today, the people have their say at the ballot box. Judging by the number of voters who showed up early this year, the 2020 election is going to smash all records for voter participation. With a deadly pandemic, wildfires, floods, economic pressure, and a struggle for survival playing out from the tweets to the streets, the stakes have never been higher.

If you're reading this right now and you haven't voted yet, it's not too late. Get up get out and let your voice be heard. As Samantha Smith recently discussed on her IG Live, this year's election is too important to sit out.

Snoop Dogg will be voting for the first time this year—and he's not the only one. Ziggy Marley voted for the first time this year also and documented the process on social media. "I decided to vote and I wondered to myself why," Ziggy wrote on his IG. "Then I thought about those who came before, the price they paid. In part, I am voting in honor of them and to honor them, to not belittle their many sacrifices and struggles with my high jaded righteousness and indifference. Many brothers and sisters from numerous backgrounds and origins marched, bled, and died to give people like me basic rights in 🇺🇸 , the right to be treated like a human being, the right to vote."

As the eldest son of the Robert Nesta Marley aka the King of Reggae, Ziggy is part of a mighty musical legacy, but his father is more than a musical legend.  The new film Freedom Fighter—part of the 75th anniversary series "Bob Marley Legacy"—examines Marley as a symbol of human rights with a voice more powerful than any politician.

Ziggy has continued his father's musical mission as a solo artist and part of the Grammy-winning family group Melody Makers. His 2018 album, Rebellion Rises opens with a song entitled "See Them Fake Leaders," leaving no doubt about his views on the institutions of government. Still, Ziggy remains engaged in the political process, doing his part and encouraging others to do the same.

"Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, and others thought, 'Voting rights? Civil rights? Who cares? What difference will it make?'" Ziggy wrote on IG. "Just imagine what the world would have looked like now if not for their sacrifices. Go ahead, imagine it. Can you see it? Well, what do you think?"

"To be clear voting is not the end-all," Ziggy Marley added. "It is a small piece of a puzzle and just one of the tools in our toolbox that we must use as part of a larger effort to bring positive beneficial changes for all people. The work must continue at maximum effort after elections regardless of the outcome." Ziggy emphasized that he was not voting for a party or a person for an idea. "Even though we have differences we can be better human beings, more united human beings, more loving human beings, equal human beings, just human beings. The politics will come and go left right and center but still through it all the humanity that we must show to each other is not negotiable."

Ziggy voted by mail this year, but for those of you standing in line today to exercise your right and let your voices be heard, Ziggy curated a special playlist for Tidal's "Hold The Line" campaign. Music to vote by—from Ziggy and Bob to Fela and James Brown, not to mention Public Enemy and Rage Against The Machine.

Ziggy Marley’s new album, More Family Time, is out now on all music streaming platforms.

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