Toronto native Tory Lanez came to Drexel University Nov. 5 to speak in front of a very intimate crowd and discuss his life and career in the music industry. Lanez has worked with artists such as Justin Bieber, Meek Mill and YG over the span of his five-year career but you would never know that from his humble and laid-back demeanor.
Lanez recently signed to Interscope Records through super producer Benny Blanco. His current single, “Say It,” was the number one gainer on the Urban Radio Adds chart the last week of October, has over eight million views on YouTube, five million streams on Spotify and is currently up to number 72 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. In addition, Ed Sheeran recently released a cover of the song which has over one million plays on SoundCloud. Lanez is currently on a sold out tour with Compton rapper, Boogie, and will be playing in Philadelphia Dec. 11 at Coda.
The Triangle: Your tour just started last week. West Coast MC Boogie will be joining on a little later and you’ll be with Mac Miller for about 10 days in the middle of the run. How has the tour been going so far and what can fans expect to see at a Tory Lanez show other than you performing on top of the crowd?
Tory Lanez: (laughing) You can expect the unexpected. My shows are never the same. Not even the songs are the same. I just want people to know that my shows are very unpredictable and not just something you can see and then just go somewhere else and see the exact same show again.
TT: You crowd-walked to the last row of people in Denver last week. Can you tell me about that experience?
TL: It was legendary, man. I had this show at Red Rocks and it was 10,000 people. And I told the crowd like “The Beatles have performed here,” all the legends have performed here. I want to do something legendary. So I decided to be the first person ever to crowd-walk 10,000 people upwards at Red Rocks. And I did it. And I crowd surfed the whole back down.
TT: So we met a few weeks ago in New York at an Interscope party and got the chance to talk to you about how I was first introduced to your music through the Chix Tape 1 in 2011. At that time, I really gravitated towards songs like “Loud,” but the first time I saw your name as a big feature was on YG’s Just Re’d Up 2 with “On the Set” a year later. Both of these songs were pretty focused on your singing rather than the rapping. How do you feel your music and sound has evolved since Chix Tape 1 and your features like “On the Set?”
TL: My music is never focused on one attribute whether it’s singing or rapping. My strongest suit is the fact that I’m versatile. My music is just like my shows; you’re never going to get the same thing. I’m not a one-dimensional that can only sing or only rap. Melody and melodic value are some of the most important concepts in music. In the last five or 10 years, there hasn’t been one song that’s been number one in the world that didn’t have some sort of melodic value. But my music is always changing. I’m a way better rapper than I used to be, I’m a way better singer than I used to be, I’m a way better producer now, I’m a way better director now.
TT: Last week, “Rolling Stone” named you as one of their “10 Artists You Need to Know”—Does recognition like this mean anything to you? And if not, where do you feel success comes from (ticket sales, album sales, etc.)?
TL: Everything means something to me. Every little piece of success is a blessing from God. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Rolling Stone” and I think it’s a big accomplishment but success for me is on another scale. I’m here to be the biggest artist in the whole world. Because my goal is set so high, all the big accomplishments come to me at ease. I had a song with Justin Bieber on my mixtape. He’s the biggest artist in the world. So by setting my standards so high, success to me is not being able to see the crowds in the back of the venue or when I’m stopping wars with music, not print or blogs and magazines.
TT: I recently watched an interview of yours where you named your top 10 most influential songs. Because we’re in Philly I have to mention that “What We Do” by Freeway was on that list. Was it more the Roc-A-Fella connection that you gravitated towards or were you into the whole Philadelphia hip-hop scene at the time whether it was Freeway, Beanie Sigel or Chris and Neef?
TL: I grew up on State Property. Watching Beanie Sigel and Peedi Crakk. I was a fan of Cassidy. I love Meek (Mill). I think in a weird way my life has always been involved with Philly because so much dope music has come out of Philly. Sometimes I feel like people don’t give Philly enough credit, especially in the early 2000’s with Freeway, Beanie Sigel and Young Gunz. There have been multiple times Philly has had an influence on me and my music.
TT: Let’s talk about “Say It.” It was the number one gainer on Urban Radio Adds chart the last week of October, has almost eight million views on Youtube, almost five million streams on Spotify. It’s now up to 72 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Did you ever expect it to blow up this much when you were recording it?
TL: For me, when I finished recording it, I couldn’t stop playing the song. I knew it was a thing. Every time I played it, for months before it came out, it never lost its timelessness for me. Usually, I can’t listen to myself for more than a few weeks, but to this day when I hear “Say It,” it sounds new.
TT: A lot of people would consider “Say It” your breakthrough song and introduction to the mainstream. You have a very dedicated fan base and there’s comments on your videos from four years ago waiting for you to blow up… however, there are also people who don’t know that you have over ten mixtapes in your arsenal. Is there an effort to push people towards your older music, or do you like the concept of being reintroduced to the world as a “new artist?”
TL: It’s a little bit of both. I still want people to listen to my older stuff, but there’s a split in the music. The music sounds a certain way from this point on. From when I was 18 to 21, I made about five mixtapes up until “Sincerely, Tory.” My music up until and including that point was very naive and experimental. After “Sincerely, Tory,” I took a year off from music to get my sound right and it changed with “Conflicts of my Soul.” Including that project, you have “Chix Tape 2,” “Lost Cause” and “Cruel Intentions EP,” which are the four projects I would tell people to go listen to if they are being introduced to me now in my career.
TT: Lastly, you’ve released over 10 mixtapes in the past four or five years, you mentioned you were recently in the studio with ASAP Rocky, musically, what’s next for you moving forward? Also, you talked about how you’re dropping something on Christmas, can you tell us more information about that?
TL: There’s some serious things coming. That’s all I can say. And as far as Christmas goes, just know it’s the last Fargo Friday of the year. For those who are not familiar with what Fargo Fridays, it’s something I do simultaneously throughout the year on Fridays where we drop new music and new videos. We’ve never had a grand finale Fargo Friday, but Christmas will be that finale.