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?.
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?
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.
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)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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