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Tory Lanez “I Told You” Album Review
Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tory Lanez is, in our opinion, one of the most talented artists out right now. He can seamlessly jump from huge radio singles to dark, gritty trap anthems without missing a beat. While there are tons of articles out that review his debut album, it seems there aren’t many sources out there that focus on the production that is heard on the album.

While Tory Lanez is unbelievably talented, we find the work of Play Picasso just as impressive, if not even more-so. Play Picasso has an excellent ear for flipping samples in ways you wouldn’t expect. His drum programming is always refreshing and his basslines and 808’s are consistently on point and unique, making he and Tory Lanez one of the most lethal duos out.

In this article, we’ll be doing a track-by-track production review of “I Told You” and sharing our thoughts on the beats and production on this album. Let’s get into it!

“I Told You / Another One”

(Produced by Play Picasso, Lavish & Tory Lanez)

I think out of the whole album, this is by far our favorite track. The energy, the beat and the hunger you hear in this track is everything we love about the Tory Lanez sound.

The beat switches are very interesting to listen to and they manage to maintain the energy the track starts with while also taking that energy into different directions.

The sound is big and cinematic, and Tory Lanez goes in on all 3 beats. This is the Tory Lanez & Play Picasso collaboration we wanted more of on this album.

The production has a very energetic sound that is complimented by more open and ambient chords and pad layers, mixed with what sounds like some vocal samples and brought together with hard hitting drums.

9 out of 10

“Guns and Roses”

(Produced by Play Picasso, Two Inch Punch, Noah Breakfast, Matti Free, Tory Lanez)

Low 60’s BPM, a melodic acoustic guitar (any quality guitar VST with a little bit of Guitar Rig can emulate this pretty well) layered with chill pads and pretty laid back drums. Mixed with very smooth vocals, what’s not to like?

This track demonstrates a great relationship between artist and producer. There are parts of the track that are very bare and leave plenty of room for Tory Lanez to shine.

Often, we producers tend to think about “what else can I add to this beat to finish it?”, when in reality, a lot of the time, what’s really missing is just an artist or voice to fill out the beat.

While this track is pretty clearly geared towards women, we find ourselves listening to it a lot while driving in the background, and it’s definitely a track that gets stuck in your head after hearing it a few times.

7 out of 10

“Flex”

(Produced by Lavish, Play Picasso, XXYYXX, Tory Lanez)

This track is one of our favorite tracks on the album, simply because of the unorthodox approach taken by Tory Lanez.

The beat by itself is obviously a very smooth, laid back track, which makes us initially expect a track that’s more focused on love or women, but he flips it into a record that is more about the come up and reaping the rewards his grind has brought him.

The track is focused around a sample that has a heavy reverb on it that gives it a very ambient sound, complimented by a nice hi-hat pattern that carries the momentum in the track.

We’re not sure what happened on the mix, or the filtering of the samples on this track, but when the drums drop out around the 1 minute mark, the track has a very harsh, kind of almost distorted sound.

We think they wanted a lo-fi type of feel, but when playing this track at higher volume, it really takes a lot from the track in our opinion.

Either way, this track is awesome, but we simply don’t listen to it as much because of the mix, which I guess is #ProducerProblems, since regular listeners probably won’t pick up on this much.

8 out of 10

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“To D.R.E.A.M”

(Produced By Two Inch Punch, Play Picasso, Tory Lanez & Happy Perez)

First of all, if you have no clue who Happy Perez is, do your research ASAP!

Happy Perez has been a producer we’ve always enjoyed listening to. His discography is insane, which we don’t think he gets enough credit for.

With so many producers on each track, it can obviously be hard to pinpoint who did what in the beat, but this track again borrows from a sample with a BPM of about 54. Like the title/intro track, this is one of those R&B type tracks that have a bit more of a hustler’s story.

I’m not a big fan of the hook on this track, I think this track would’ve worked better for me with just using the sample as the hook and Tory Lanez killing the verses.

I think the hook is catchy but I think with the sample playing such a big part in this track, it becomes a bit much when the autotune hook is added on top. The highlight of the track to me is definitely the change you hear around 3:50.

The track flows into a smooth R&B type track that definitely will stick with you, the smooth melodies and bassline match perfectly with the smoothness of the Tory Lanez vocals.

8 out of 10

“4am Flex”

(Produced By Sergio Romero & Play Picasso)

This track starts out with an eerie piano/bell type sound, which is filtered to give it a more muted sound. Add a heavy reverb to that and you have a solid base for a track.

The drums drop in with some 808 slides, and is given its bounce by a well-programmed hi-hat pattern. The BPM is really slow at 43 BPM, or 86 BPM double time, but with Tory Lanez’ flow and the interesting programming of the drums, the track moves and doesn’t drag along like you might initially expect when seeing the BPM.

The track is followed by a skit and then it goes into a second song produced by Sergio Romero. The beat again utilizes an ambient type sound, layered with drums that aren’t nearly as “trap influenced” as most of his stuff.

This track is really short but I think it breaks the album up nicely. The beat is different and sticks out compared to others on the album.

I love how the beat builds with the added piano and guitar type layers that are added towards the end. This track is 90 BPM, which picks up the pace of the album while not sounding out of place.

6 out of 10

“Friends with Benefits”

(Produced By Play Picasso, Frank Dukes, Happy Perez & Tory Lanez)

An all-star production team on this one, no arguing that. Even though I can genuinely say I like the work of each producer featured on this track, I have trouble writing a review on this track, simply because I don’t think this track was created to appeal to men as much as the ladies.

The beat is based around a cool, almost happy sounding bell/EP loop. There is a vocal sample on here, that I believe was also used on a Drake album, which threw me off since he seems to constantly want to separate himself from Drake and that camp in interviews.

Not to say that a vocal chop belongs to a certain artist, but I think if you’re trying to establish yourself as your own artist, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pull ideas from the same artist you are trying to distance yourself from because that’s the first person I thought of when I heard the track.

I also think the bridge around 2:50 reminds me of the So Far Gone project, mainly because of that drum track.

6 out of 10

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“Cold Hard Love”

(Produced By Play Picasso, Happy Perez & Tory Lanez)

Even though this is basically a pop song, I think this is one of my favorite beats on the album.

I love the groove of the drums and sample, and I think that vocal sample itself is pretty catchy. I also really appreciate the subtle little changes in the track, whether it’s the live sounding acoustic guitars that come in or the small changes you hear in everything from the sample to the lower synths that come in.

It’s interesting to listen to, but not over produced. Even though you can tell this is supposed to appeal to the radio, it isn’t quite the traditional track I’d expect from Tory Lanez or the typical pop beat.

This almost sounds like something that I could hear a Trey Songz or Chris Brown on, but Tory carries the track well on his.

8.5 out of 10

“High”

(Produced By Happy Perez, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat, Play Picasso & Tory Lanez)

This track might be the most interesting track to me production-wise. I love the way those electric tom type sounds blend so well with the melody and how the track builds.

It reminds me of something I could hear Miguel on. The samples, the melodies, the drums and percs, from a production standpoint, it’s hard to not be impressed with this beat.

Even though I like the beat a lot, the song is a bit of a different story. While one of the things I really appreciate about Tory Lanez’ sound is his versatility, this track is so far left field that it almost comes across as an intentional record to show his diversity, instead of a track that’s more true to his sound.

I realize he’s done tracks with just singing before, plenty of times, but this one just feels a lot more pop to me than the rest, so while I can appreciate the song for what it is, it’s not exactly what I’d want to hear on a Tory Lanez album.

Beat – 8.5 out of 10
Song – 6 out of 10

“Dirty Money”

(Produced By Tory Lanez & Play Picasso)

While I enjoy other tracks on the album, this is the kind of track I wanted to hear on this album.

The melodic but open piano melody that builds with lower notes, and then changes up completely, helps build a serious tone that is still very melodic.

When the drums drop around the 2:15 mark, I personally find it impossible to not make the screw face. The bounce of the drums, the subtle changes and the background choirs just create an amazing backdrop for Tory Lanez and I think it’s a highlight on the album.

The saxophone melodies that come in from time to time are easy to miss because of his voice but they add a nice dynamic to the track.

Around 3:50, there is another drop to the track that kind of builds suspense to me, but then the track drops off into another skit, making me wish the track was a bit longer.

The only complaint I have on this track is the sequencing. For me, personally, I wish this was 2 tracks, one being the main little singing part that goes from :25 to 1:20 (maybe a skit or ending to a different track), and then the 2nd track being from 1:20 onward.

I think this would work better because I constantly find myself fast forwarding the singing to get to the beat drop.

9 out of 10

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“Question Is”

(Produced By Andrew “Pop” Wansel)

This beat pairs a nice, very drama-free piano with some smooth female vocals to create a very infectious hook.

I think hook-wise, this is one of my favorites on the album. It’s easy to just vibe to, it’s memorable, I love the singer’s tone (Brianna Cash) and I think Tory Lanez delivers on the verses.

The track was produced by Andrew “Pop” Wansel (also produced “Say It” by Tory), who has credits with everyone from Kanye West to Miguel.

I almost feel like “To Dream” should’ve did what this track did, with the more laid back hook and Tory going in on the verses.

No complaints on this one, smooth pianos, catchy vocals and a song with a message.

9 out of 10

“Loners Blvd.”

(Produced By Xaphoon Jones, Ben Free, Play Picasso & Tory Lanez)

This track reminds me very much of “Look What You’ve Done” by Drake. The vibe of rapping over the pianos and the feel of the track is very similar to me.

The similarities become even more apparent when you listen to the subject matter, which at parts is also pretty similar. This isn’t to say anything was stolen or copied, but again, I think he does himself no favors on the Drake comparisons on this track with how the verses are structured.

The song later changes into a much more inspiring and bigger hook, that does enough to differentiate it from the Drake track but it’s just hard to connect with due to all the similarities to me.

He does the sound well, but it feels like something we’ve heard before.

5 out of 10

“All The Girls”

(Produced By Happy Perez, Play Picasso & Tory Lanez)

This is a beat I feel like most people can learn from. The main thing that I took away from this track are the subtle changes, how they’re added but still kept in the background with the use of reverb to wash the sound out a bit, and panning.

It adds just enough to the beat to not make it repetitive, but it also doesn’t overdo it to the point that it distracts from the song.

Overall this isn’t a bad song but, for me personally, it’s not what I wanted from this album, although I can understand the choices he made.

I think this album was aimed a bit more at commercial success and I’m a bit more used to the dark Tory Lanez sound he had on his mixtapes. Even though most of his mixtapes do have a variety of styles, I felt like this album was a bit TOO focused on singles instead of what I love about his sound.

This track is far from bad and I’m sure it will perform well commercially, but it’s not quite what I wanted on a Tory Lanez debut album.

6 out of 10

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“Say It”

(Produced by Andrew “Pop” Wansel)

This track is the kind of hit record we can all appreciate, I think. From the sample to the BPM, it’s far from your typical radio record but it absolutely killed the radio in its run.

The actual beat itself is very open and simplistic, but it works very well with Tory’s style. I think it’s impossible to not have this track stuck in your head after a few listens.

The simplicity of how the sample is flipped, paired with Tory Lanez’ pen game makes this one of the more memorable parts of the album, even though the track has been out for a while prior to the release of the album otself.

This is the kind of record I would love to hear more from Tory because it sounds like it wasn’t following any certain formula but ended up being a hit.

9.5 out of 10

“Luv”

(Produced by Cashmere Cat & Benny Blanco)

A dancehall inspired track, matched with some catchy melodies by Tory Lanez, it’s another song that, to me, is clearly a radio record.

This will fit into most radio stations programming (95 BPM) and works well for that purpose but, again, with the whole Drake and OVO comparisons, I don’t think this track does him much good in establishing himself as his own artist with the dancehall vibe they have been running with.

The beat itself has a catchy bounce to it that is still kept pretty open, along with samples of “Everyone Falls In Love” by Tanto Metro and Devonte.

Not a bad track by any means, but it’s a bit “cookie cutter”, again, and I wish it was used for something other than his debut album.

7 out of 10

Overall Album: 6.5 out of 10

While I think this is a solid effort from Tory Lanez, I personally found it a bit too aimed at commercial success, rather than what his core fan base loves him for.

The production is always solid, the songs are always solid, but I don’t know that he did enough to carve his own lane with this album.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of how the skits were integrated into the tracks. While the skits are a cool idea, after you hear them once, it becomes tedious to constantly fast forward a long skit to just get to a song.

I still think the combination of Tory Lanez and Play Picasso is amazing, but I think Jay Z said it best with “Ain’t nothing wrong with my aim, just gotta change the target”.

The album is solid, it’s a great commercial release, but I personally think it was a bit TOO commercial at points, but that seems to be the aim so can we really fault them for that?

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