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by ASadler

Contributor

If you told me three years ago I’d be writing an article bigging up Tory Lanez and boldly predicting he is going to elevate beyond anyone’s expectations for his career this year, I’d have laughed in your face before ranting about you know who. If you told me I’d spend an evening tuning into his Instagram Live instead of playing Call of Duty Black Ops 4 or Fortnite, I’d suggest you go talk to someone. Yet, here I was in 2019. Doing just that.

Dude is talented. Undeniably. He also samples very well,  and continues delivering strong melodies. Not to mention surprising a lot of people with his performance in battle rap versus Joyner Lucas and Don Q. Of course, it shouldn’t come as shock because he’s been rapping his entire career but his biggest music has been more in the R&B realm. Twitter finds things out soon enough.

I found myself caught up in his IG Live sessions because I’d continue to come across videos of him sampling big hits from the past, such as “Can’t Help But Wait” by Trey Songz. However, he wasn’t just debuting music. He had fans tuned in throughout the entire session. I saw it firsthand, as he cycled through beats asking fans to vote on them and help him come up with the name for the song he was making. Talk about engagement. How can you possibly dislike a song when you’re responsible for how certain aspects turn out?

The last year of Lanez career as a whole put his work ethic and versatility at the forefront. Memories Don’t Die was another introspective project, while the latter offering LoVE me NOw showed he can bring anyone into his world and create banger after banger. It seemed like he loosened up a bit and didn’t feel like the entire world was against him. And if he did, masking it in the desire to compete with any and every rapper, namely J. Cole, Pusha T, and J.I.D has been pretty clever and entertaining.

He’s realizing that he can’t just talk the talk, but he’s going so far as to walk the walk before anyone can back him into a wall. He fired the first shot against Joyner, and though Don Q beat him to the first punch, he came back swinging hard. He doesn’t shy away from smoke, and it would look crazy because his outlandish personality is what sparks most of it. We’ve said it so many times – when your brand benefits from your presence, any publicity is good publicity.

Like him or not, Tory has jumped into his own lane (pun) as a loudmouth who actually backs it up on wax. It may not seem like much, but a lot of today’s rappers stick to Tweets and subliminal shots. It feels like there’s a level of fear in engaging in lyrical warfare, whereas Tory is fearless. Everyone telling him he’s going to lose just encourages him to play the game and come out victorious.

We’re a month into the year and he’s in people’s good graces so far. With over 10 months to go and multiple rumored projects set to drop, I don’t foresee much stopping this train. It is about time we get that Drake collaboration and Summer seems like prime time for that. Popcaan signing to OVO and those three all hanging together means our Caribbean pallet should be covered. This Spanish album will certainly be intriguing, but if all else fails (or subjectively flops) we know he’s good for a few R&B bops.

The rap is what I’m most interested in, especially beyond the battle lines. I know he’s good and I’ve enjoyed it, but he’s got to take a turn. People knew Cole was good, but they wanted to feel like he felt it and was willing to show it. Now he is boasting all over social media and maintaining the presence of a star. Tory has to determine what his logical next step is and truly plan out how to do it. For Cole, it wasn’t a quick transition. People asked for him to become the guy he is now for years. For Tory, switching up quickly could set him back more than push him forward.

I anticipate what is to come this year for many artists, but I’m keeping a special eye on Tory Lanez. Half because he’s forced us to, but more so because I have yet to be disappointed. With an album, feature, remix or freestyle. 2019 can be the dawn of his stardom. He’ll have to really mess up for it not to be. Could Tyrese and this $50k bet be his kryptonite? Competing with an R&B great on whose album will be better may be the tallest task he’s seen yet. Stay in your lane? Nah, never Tory’s energy.