Album of the Month: Cruel Intentions EP

The rise of an up and coming Toronto rapper

In this new regular column, I will be reviewing and bringing to your attention some of my favorite albums for everyone to discover and enjoy. Subjective opinions, hyperbole and cynicism may occur, proceed at your own discretion.

Tory Lanez – Cruel Intentions EP

The last time Los Angeles beatmaker Shlohmo dropped a collaborative Extended Play (EP) with an R&B artist, the result was a record with so much replay value that it was perfect for putting on and just staring off into space drooling to, not processing anything because the songs were repeated so much and dug so deep into the psyche that focus on the music was irrelevant. In this way, the “No More” EP with Jeremih proved that beauty in this world is ultimately fleeting and too fragile for us to appreciate.

When it was announced this summer that Tory Lanez, an aspiring artist from Toronto with sparse solo material but ghostwriting claims for the likes of Travis Scott and Akon, would be collaborating with Shlohmo’s label and collective WEDIDIT (which includes festival staple RL Grime) for an EP, expectations were similar. Whatever small amount of tracks offered were bound to be spun until their grooves wore out, physically and metaphorically. The project meets these expectations and more, delivering a powerful sonic statement with a lastingly fresh aesthetic.

The opener and single, “Acting Like,” blends Shlohmo’s spacey and frantic production with Lanez’s angelic crooning, which cascades through the beginning leading into a dark, swelling chorus that will worm its way into your head and infest your psyche in a way no mortal man is prepared for. This track can be played  daily, every time sounding more fire. Come for the falsetto, stay for the 808s.

Another standout is “N.I.N.A.,” with production by electronic trap star Baauer, which lopes along with a rolling verse melody that will spiral up into Lanez’s glorious higher register every once in a while, feeling like a glorious splash of fresh water in the middle of a smoke-filled rave. Underscored with seething bass and punctuated by occasional frenzied synth squeals, this could even be passed over as a sleeper on first listen, but will set your brain on a slow burn that builds to an inferno as you let it sink in more.

The fifth and final song, “Honda Civic,” becomes the magnum opus of the project and ends the tape with a beautiful, smooth, emotional caress. D33J, on production, blends clean guitar licks with muffled clanking snares and jazzy keys, a sultry and soothing combination. The lyrics stand out especially, telling a compelling story about young lust and gas money before segueing into a flighty, agonized chorus of indecision and contradiction. Powerful and too fleeting, this is the kind of outro that will make you desperately mash the little loop album button on your phone so you can start over before silence comes, the pain of which will be similar to that of a newborn exiting its comfortable womb to find a world full of pain and the reality of no more Tory Lanez until his album drops in 2016.

“Cruel Intentions” is available for free download at