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Numerous album release dates have been pushed back in recent months, in part due to streaming services seeing less streams and in part due to artists’ inability to do proper rollouts. Still, a few artists have pressed forward with their releases, including Tory Lanez, whose “The New Toronto 3” went on streaming services April 10. Album rollouts are all about getting eyes on your product, and Lanez’ rollout was as unique as the times we’re living in.
During the evening on the 10th, “Alexis Texas” began to trend on twitter, along with “Tory Lanez” and “Quarantine Radio.” Quarantine Radio is Lanez’ after-dark Instagram Live sessions, which have become infamous after a lewd act got his Instagram Live privileges revoked. As those trends suggest, on the Friday of the album’s release, Quarantine Radio was back in full force, though with rules and regulations.
The framework was simple: Lanez would add women to the live and have them show off their twerking abilities before asking them to do ungodly things with milk. Natalie Nunn took things a step further, with friends pouring milk, then cheerios, syrup and ranch dressing on her body. A later guest joined the live while driving with her boyfriend, whom she made pull over so she could get out of the car and twerk. At its height, Quarantine Radio reached 285,000 viewers, with celebrities like Jordyn Woods, Jalen Ramsey, Wiz Khalifa, Donovan Mitchell and even Diddy participating in the comments.
Even if it wasn’t one’s cup of tea, it’s hard to deny Quarantine Radio’s massive success and importance to the culture. It also presented a great opportunity for sex workers to advertise their work in a time where business is booming. Unemployment has led to a 75% increase in OnlyFans signups, according to HuffPost.
But enough about Quarantine Radio. How is the music it’s promoting?
“The New Toronto 3” is summer music. It gets off to a boisterous start, as Tory gets into what he does best: luxury rapping. “Talk to me nicely/When I pull up, I'm stuntin', I'm talkin' spicy/New Givenchy and Saint Laurent, this s--t pricey,” he raps on the intro, a party track. Same with “Stupid Again,” “P.A.I.N.” and “Back In Business,” Tory shines the most when the track’s production does the work for him. On those tracks, you can just turn the sound up and enjoy the vibe.
Speaking of vibes, the album wouldn’t be complete without a couple strip club records, and “Do The Most” and “D.N.D.” take care of that. Both tracks saw a lot of play in Quarantine Radio sessions for good reason.
It’s when you listen to the lyrics that “The New Toronto 3” takes a step back. Tory’s music often sounds like rap from 10 years ago, with dated R&B sounds, like on “10 F*CKS,” and equally dated homophobic bars, like “You don't get no points for pullin' f-----t moves” and “'Bout like eighty to hundred thousand, c--k sucker, beat it,” the latter a reference to a Jay-Z, a lyric Tory should’ve left in 1997.
The album suffers from a similar problem Rick Ross has to deal with: When you get away from the luxury raps, there are serious authenticity issues. On songs like “Dope Boy’s Diary,” the lyrics seem paint-by-the-numbers. Tory Lanez the trapper, the jackboy, the shooter — it just doesn’t work.
Ironically a drill record, “Accidents Happen” featuring Lil Tjay is one of the major highlights of the tape, as Tjay continues a great run of features which has included Pop Smoke’s “War” and 24kGolden’s “VALENTINO” remix. Tjay’s energy usually takes over any track he’s on, but Lanez holds his own. Tory has a good ear for young talent, and his decision to have Lil Tjay as the lone feature on this album was a smart one.
As good as this album is, it’s curious why it went out on schedule. Both Lanez and his label had to have known it wouldn’t sell very well, given that it’s outside music at a time when everyone is inside, and yet they put it out. The answer comes on “Letter To The City 2,” in which Lanez opens up about the struggles he’s had with producer Benny Blanco and Interscope Records.
In the track, Tory explains Blanco didn’t push him the way he should’ve been pushed, threatened to shelf his career, and took money out of his advance. Tory announces “The New Toronto 3” is his last project under these conditions, with the best bit of writing that’s on the album: “Soon as you hear this verse, I'm out the record deal/Exceeded twelve albums, four years, and that's a record still/Hand to the sky like Emmett Till off the steppin' wheel.” Tory Lanez isn’t known as a “conscious” rapper, but his work would be considerably improved with more songs like this one.
Overall, “The New Toronto 3” is a solid record, though the outside factors surrounding its release prove more interesting than most of its content. Tory Lanez is a free man now, and given how well he’s run Quarantine Radio, someone ought to give him a hosting gig whenever he retires.