“Everything is 2000s-inspired–Everything is inspired by the times when things were golden for us. I think all those pieces and everything that we’ve come out with has been all about nostalgia. I’m about to take you on a whole journey musically.”
The concept of nostalgia– something that has been a huge conversation as of late. With all the talks about the new Disney Plus streaming service bringing back old shows and movies, this is something that we latch onto and that brings a sort of happiness and excitement. In Tory Lanez perspective, his highly popular Chixtape series has been nothing less than a nostalgic journey through the years of great music. The concept of making an entire project and taking classic R&B records, sampling and flipping them into a modern version seems like something that even Tory himself is “surprised that no one has thought of yet”. Sampling has been dominant in the music industry since it’s inception and without a doubt is one of the most popular production trends in music. Tory may not be the first to sample and reimagine songs, but he may be one of the best yet to make entire projects of the craft. At last, we are here in 2019 with Chixtape 5, which can arguably go down as the best of the series.
Before Chixtape 5
Despite Tory Lanez being active musically for a little over a decade now, there is still a large community of those who are unfamiliar with this entire catalogue. Coming out of Toronto, Tory has always been a rapper/singer hybrid and has always shown expertise in both crafts. On the singing side of things, his best efforts has always been his Chixtape series. This series started all the way back in 2011 with the original Chixtape. On these projects, Tory Lanez takes a popular R&B song and samples it and makes it his own. These projects are entire produced by Tory himself and his frequent collaborator and master producer Play Picasso. Despite Tory Lanez’s debut album I Told You releasing in 2016, a majority of the Chixtape installments came well before that, and that is what his fans have known to grown and love over the years. What makes this project much different from the others, is the amount of time, effort and care that went into the creation of this album.
Speaking of album, this is the first official album release of the series, with Chixtape I-IV being only released for free on DatPiff and Soundcloud. That alone shows that this album is far more different than the rest, being that Tory has taken it much more seriously than he has in the past. This time around, instead of simply just sampling the classing R&B songs, Tory decided to get every single artist from the original songs and have them be a guest feature on the song as well. Now it goes without saying the amount of behind the scenes work that had to be done to make this come into fruition. Since the previous installments were released for free, that gave Tory the freedom to sample the songs and not have to worry about clearing them. However this time around, Tory is signed to Interscope, which means he now had to deal with tons of sample clearances, splits, and gathering all the features and pursuing them into being a part of this project with him. This all sounded amazing on paper. So much so that fans (myself included) did not think it would be possible. Sample clearance has been a major issue in the music industry and has tarnished a lot of great songs and future opportunities for artists and producers to find joy in recreating classic hits. Many thought it would never see the light of day–not to say that Tory couldn’t do it, but on the label side of things. Nonetheless, Tory pulled it off, and it sounds nothing less than amazing.
Despite the album being an album full of R&B remakes, there is in fact a story to the Chixtape series. This time around, Tory has a love interest for a woman named Keisha–whom he’s already had relations with her sister and another close friend of theirs named Julissa. Tory refers to this story as “a big drama” between him and all of his love interests that resurface here on Chixtape 5. Nothing too hard to follow, and not an entirely deep story here, yet still important to add context to the songs. In an interview with Apple Music (found in the editorial notes for the album), Tory speaks on the importance that skits play in his albums–despite receiving a lot of backlash from including so many skits (fourteen to be exact) on his debut album I Told You. He says:
“It’s very important that I have cinematic relief from so much music, because sometimes music can be overwhelming. I felt like the skits are always important to me.”
As stated earlier, the best part about the Chixtape series is that it allows Tory Lanez to really put his song crafting ability to the test and be able to produce, arrange, write and sing the songs himself. This time around, he sampled songs that were made in only the first half of the 2000’s. Some of the songs that he chose to remix were originally done by legends such as Fabolous, Mya, T-Pain, Jagged Edge, Ashanti and many more. Just reading those names on paper sounds like Tory would have some big shoes to fill in order to be able to flip these songs the right way. In fact, this was something that Tory himself worried about even going back to the earlier Chixtape projects. After receiving nothing but positive feedback from projects 1-4, it’s safe to say that isn’t a worry of his anymore. One thing he was worried about this time around though, is being able to redo certain classics such as “Take You Down” by Chris Brown, “Foolish” by Ashanti, and “I’m Sprung” by T-Pain. In Joe Budden’s Pull Up, Tory had this to say about his thoughts during the creation of the album:
“These are TOO classic– n****s are gonna get mad at me. And I was like… you know what? Let’s give n****s no reason to be mad at me–let’s put the n****s on the songs”.
The first single off of the album was the collaboration with T-Pain “Jerry Sprunger”–which is the remake to “I’m Sprung”. The production on this song is by far one that sounds most similar to the original while still adding a new twist on it. Being able to have T-Pain sing the hook and have a guest verse really added to the track and added to Tory’s credibility in being able to arrange such a track for his album. Tory himself even said that he used this song to “finesse” the rest of the features into working with him on the album. He would tell people “you know I got T-Pain on here too” and that would be enough for them to want to be a part of this throwback project. The second feature he was able to snag for the album would be the legendary Ashanti for “A Fools Tale (Running Back)”–the flip on Ashanti’s classic anthem “Foolish”. At this point, he knew that gathering the rest of the features would be much easier knowing that he had the blessing from these two legacy acts–and he sure was right.
One area where Tory shines aside from his production and executive skills would be his vocal ability. His rapping ability has been well noted and fans have been well aware of it by now with all the hits he has created and been a part of. His singing ability is where he continues to grow and progress with each and every project he releases. Being on a project full of classic R&B artists with amazing voices would often intimidate the average artist. However for Tory Lanez, even though the pressure was real, he sure as hell didn’t show it in his verses. Each and every song Tory expresses his vocal range and and hits note that he normally hadn’t hit before. Normally this would come off as trying to show off in front of the guest feature, but it comes off so effortlessly and blends perfectly with the feature.
“I feel like if I was in their era of when they were singing and I have the voice that I have now, I think I’d be able to stand with them. I think it’s moreso of a my-world-meets-your-world kind of situation. I’ve always wanted to say something along the lines of “I did this” or have something like, “I worked with this person that I’ve always wanted to work with.” I always wanted to have those accolades and accomplishments. So now that I’m at this point where I can reach out and my arm can actually reach [these caliber of artists] and I can get that record done, it’s just a dream come true for me. ”
Tory ha always been known for having a great ear for music and selective which songs he will flip on the Chixtape series. On top of the T-Pain and Ashanti classics, tory has a myriad of other songs that he flipped on this album as well. Not to spoil the entire album, but a few more of those classic remakes include “Splash Waterfalls” by Ludacris, “Beautiful” by Snoop Dogg & Pharrell, “Can’t Help But Wait” by Trey Songz and “Falsetto” by The-Dream. It goes without saying that if you are a fan of classic R&B music, then there will guaranteed be something here for you to love. One of the greatest joys about Tory going back and doing these songs over would be exposing some people to an era they may not be familiar of too well. In Hip-Hop, normally the songs that would get sampled would be older 90’s songs and songs that were way before most of our times. Therefore it may not hold as much weight to us. Tory going back to the early 2000’s pays homage to an era that not only Tory grew up in, but an era where a majority of his fans grew up in as well. A 90’s baby didn’t grow up in the 90’s, they grew up in the 2000’s–so to hear Fabolous kill his verse on “If You Gotta…” and Ludacris do such an amazing job on “The Fargo Splash”, it’s an amazing thing to see. Tory Lanez even got a vintage Lil’ Wayne verse, and not too many artists can say they achieved such feat.
After many listens of Chixtape 5, I have grown to love it more and more each time. First run through, it feels amazing to hear so many classic songs redone in 2019 and done with such care in order to do them all justice and continuing their legacy. Of course, it all ties back into the nostalgia factor of it, but besides that, there is so much more to enjoy. Classic songs aside, Tory Lanez delivered an amazing body of work production wise and vocally as well. This is a true R&B album, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It will be amazing to see more of the visuals that come from this project, and the promo videos showing the classic Limewire download list and the iPod playlist really brings it all full circle. This album glorifies the true meaning of nostalgia–and in time will have all fans going back and making throwback playlists off of this album alone.
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