Toronto's Tory Lanez has made no secret of his pursuit of hometown heroism, and with the second entry in his subliminally anti-OVO campaign so coyly titled The New Toronto, the artist who professed on his last album that he'd be "the biggest artist in the world" appears to have scaled it back to just the city. The first The New Toronto mixtape instalment, released on Christmas 2015, was merely a precursor to the mediocrity that was to follow on I Told You, released this past summer, but luckily for Lanez, The New Toronto 2 fares mildly better than its predecessor.
Lanez doesn't waste any time queuing up the heavy Auto Tune and trunk-rattling bass here, as "Talk to Me Nice / Fargo Season" knocks with commanding authority thanks to long-time collaborating producers Play Picasso and C Sick. In fact, that very instrumentation is what makes moments of this release so infectious. 95% of the beats are hollowed out with gloomy 808s, but then perk right back up with an overwhelming amount of trap drums. So even though Lanez has yet to master the art of top-tier songwriting, he definitely knows how to catch a groovy rhythm in between the lines his production team lays down for him.
Over a grand total of 13 tracks, Tory manages to cover all of his musical bases with surprising ease. He gets to be the reggae solider he's always wanted to be on "Bodmon Song," he caters to the ladies on "Came Thru" and even puts the Auto Tune goon bravado on ice with some real pure raps on "LICK / Drive You Crazy." He gets in some firm jabs with lines like "Think I'm typin' in a site with all these Ws" and "Bad bitch just touched down, she Tom Brady," but the real haymaker is when Lanez dishes Drake the well timed "I pray I never dress like y'all / Only bird on my shirt is when I press that raw" line.
As expected, those are where the top-notch rap lines start and end. Lanez is far from a lyrical miracle despite his brief moments of quick wit and fails to push his "New Toronto" narrative any further than a couple of Blue Jays references and one mention of downtown. In reality, there are equally as many references to Miami on this project, plus he's wearing a New York Yankees cap in the cover art, which ultimately doesn't bode very well for his hometown reputation. Still, The New Toronto 2 is a slight improvement for Lanez, even if it's nothing totally new. (Independent)