Published Feb 08, 2016As quickly as the likes of Drake and the Weeknd solidified Toronto's place on the map as an urban music hotbed, a new class of artists have risen up to take the crown. At the end of 2015, it was clear Jazz Cartier, born Jaye Adams, was the one leading the charge in proving success as a rapper in the provincial capital is attainable without the 6 God's blessing.
After asserting himself as Toronto's next great rap figure with audiences at home and away, his sophomore effort Hotel Paranoia serves as a truer test in gauging his staying power. As Cartier rides the elevator towards the top floor of Toronto rap after a smooth check-in with last year's Marauding in Paradise, he shows he isn't far from knocking on the penthouse doors of the city's giants.
The confidence and hunger Cartier fostered and exhibited through Paradise has only grown, evident in the way he opens the record a cappella: "I am the prince of the city, I am the talk of the town / Nobody else fucking with me, 'cause I am not fucking around." It's a bold statement, but a truthful one, the growth in Cartier's writing and delivery apparent and his knack for storytelling now coupled with hooks to match, ensuring that "Stick & Move," "Black and Misguided," "Never Too Faded" and "Opera" stay locked in the listener's brain.
Producer Michael Lantz provides a powerful palette of his self-described "cinematic trap" once more, bolstered by pompous brass sections, strings, choirs and even a codeine-crazy Montell Jordan loop on "How We Do It." Lantz and Cartier also take time to play around with their influences outside of hip-hop, gleaned from Cartier's worldly upbringing. Plays towards R&B are made with "Illuminati Love Song," "After the Club" and the River Tiber-assisted "Tell Me," while the bouncy beats of "Red Alert" and "Better When You Lie" wouldn't seem out of place one bit in pop rap spheres.
A change in sequencing might have made for a more active back half, which is loaded with smoother, slower material, but "Tales" and the jarring "Save Me From Myself" do well to put lapsing attention spans in a stranglehold. Side-stepping any notion of a sophomore slump, Jazz Cartier has surprises behind every door of Hotel Paranoia. It's safe to say he won't be checking out of Toronto rap any time soon. (Independent)