Music Features

Is DaBaby His Own Worst Enemy?

With the more recent headlines surrounding the emcee, it's felt like DaBaby has finally done something he can't finagle out of.

DaBaby "Giving What It's Supposed To Give" music video

DaBaby has been difficult to absorb lately.

The Charlottesville emcee was an exciting burst of caffeine right out the gates. His energized flow, goofy sense of humor, and IDGAF rhetoric made him seem like a Roadrunner, always on the move and always outmaneuvering those whothink they'd finally outsmarted him.

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Music Features

Interview: Melii Is Just Trying To Shine

The singer opens up about her new album, and her journey to self-empowerment

Alex Loucas

In an interview last January, Melii sat down with Ebro Darden for a candid discussion on her rise to fame.

Moments into the interview, Melii broke into sobs as she was asked to explain her experiences with past management. A buzzing new talent out of Harlem, her early-day managers had been misogynistic men who often sexualized or threatened her, an experience far from unusual for Black female artists in the rap game. Her wounds were still visibly raw, and for the rest of the interview, Melii didn't talk about her music but instead used the opportunity to dissect the experience of Black women in the music industry.

A few months later, Melii released PhAses, a magnetic and versatile R&B record that showcased the artist's budding talent as both a rapper and a bilingual singer. But the release became overshadowed by gossip. On the eve of PhAses' release, Tory Lanez congratulated Melii and welcomed her to his label One Umbrella. Meek Mill, who had served as a guiding light for Melii over the last few months, called the situation "corny." Speculation and criticism were abundant.

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Frontpage Popular News

Megan Thee Stallion's NYT Op Ed And What "Protect Black Women” Means In Pop Culture

The safety of Black Women is more than a social justice catchphrase.

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While Chixtape 5 is still fresh on the charts, Tory Lanez returns with a new single "Broke In a Minute."

The track, seemingly off the recently confirmed New Toronto 3, finds Tory in a similarly ignorant mindset, as displayed on last week's Brooklyn Drill inspired "K LO K." Gone is the R&B crooning of Chixtape, in its stead is a Lanez settling into his new found fame. After two massive joint tour's with Chris Brown and Drake over the summer, and a powerful response to Chixtape 5 Chixtape 5, Tory seems to be merely flexing on us. "Bands in my hand look pretty, hit another band on the Gram, I'm litty," He raps on "Broke In a Minute."

As Lanez gears up for his next chapter, it's clear he's back on his bullsh*t, but his habit of mimicry is starting to grow old, and while his interpretation of Brooklyn Drill is more or less convincing, it still feels rather vanilla when compared to the prowess of Pop Smoke or Fivio Foreign, the latter of which is featured on "K LO K" and overshadows the "Beauty and The Benz" polymath almost immediately. The question of Tory's artistic identity is growing farther out of reach; but simultaneously, his iconic success has been a long time coming, and that deserves celebration.

‎Broke In A Minute - Single by Tory Lanez

‎Broke In A Minute - Single by Tory Lanez

‎Album · 2020 · 1 Song


"Chixtape 5" Is Absolute Joy, but Where Will Tory Lanez Go from Here?

The multifaceted musician has become a sort of hip-hop Annie Oakley, but his artistic identity remains a mystery

Tory Lanez has always been incredibly multifaceted.

He's demonstrated a quickfire lyrical ability as a rapper and has proven he can go bar for bar with some of today's best rappers. He's an equally talented producer and is a versatile, self-taught singer with a powerful range that has only improved over the years. He can dominate radio-ready R&B with the ferocity and commercial sensibilities of Chris Brown, but he can also co-exist in an Afrobeats soundscape with ease. Lanez plans to release his first Spanish Reggaeton album, titled El Agua, in October of next year. But his musical ambidexterity has been cultivated out of a need to demonstrate his prowess. His Grammy-nominated breakthrough single, "Luv," is interpolated in a Tanto Metro and Devonte song. One of his most highly streamed tracks is a remix of Drake's "Controlla," with over 17 million listens. He is frequently accused of ripping off other artists and has, in the past, fielded accusations of plagiarism.

But that's why the Chixtapes platform has been the perfect format for Lanez. It's exactly as advertised–each of the projects offers a modern interpretation of a different era in R&B– and gives Lanez the creative liberty to expand on and flip the songs of his R&B idols without having to worry about accusations of mimicry.

Tory Lanez and T-Pain - Jerry Sprunger (Official Music Video)

Chixtape 5, the latest in the anthology, is a culmination of everything that made the series so endearing in the first place. Its call back to the early aughts is perfectly correlated with today's cultural climate, and his eye for detail, all the way down to the Sidekick in Ashanti's hand on the album cover, is uncanny. His powerful guest list only adds to the project's nostalgia. Hearing T-Pain back in action on "Jerry Sprunger" is an absolute joy, and regardless of your current stance on Chris Brown, hearing him and Tory bring new life to the former's 2007 smash "Take You Down" is electric. While the charm does wear thin at times—a few tracks meander for a tad too long—overall, Chixtape 5 does its job and reaffirms that Lanez can, indeed, do anything.

But four albums in, and it still seems like we're no closer to knowing who the real Tory Lanez is. "I've always wanted to say something along the lines of 'I did this'...I always wanted to have those accolades and accomplishments," he told Billboard. Tory Lanez has a habit of getting in his own way, and over the course of four albums he's chosen to flex his muscles rather than carve out his own identity. He has demanded respect for years and has fought tooth and nail to paint himself as a hip-hop Annie Oakley, but in the process he's backed himself into a creative corner. The indecisiveness of where he wants to go as an artist becomes slightly more apparent with each release, but then again, whatever he's doing is working, and that indecisiveness is not necessarily a bad problem to have.