ALBUM SUMMARY: Tory Lanez has spent, well, about seven months hyping his second album, Memories Don’t Die as one of the best albums I’ll ever hear, so it’s hard not to get expectations up after coming off of three good projects in the last two years, a handful of excellent guest features, and four and a half (thanks… Future) sonically pleasing singles for Memories Don’t Die.
To be blunt, it falls short, but that doesn’t make it a bad album at all. The release reminds me of when Drake’s Views dropped, and people were rating it 8 and 9 out of 10, but still saying it ‘fell flat.’ Obviously, MDD isn’t anywhere near the hype scale as anything Drake has ever made, but the comparison is definitely one to be made.
The album starts with a skit, just like I Told You did, and quickly leaves the skit format behind going forward. The Old Friends half of Old Friends x New Foes is beautiful, while the second half just feels like a standard intro track for today’s artists. Shooters is a solid outing for the third track but leaves much to be desired as all Tory touches on is his wrist game, wraith, and wealth. The first true R&B song on the album comes in next with 4 Me, and it’s a complete hit. I don’t think it’s one that the radios will pick up on, but on top of Play Picasso’s production, Tory makes what feels like an extended interlude into a solid track. Skrt Skrt is Tory’s annual dancehall track, and everyone feels the same way about this one, Tory is nothing short of a guarantee for a great Jamaican anthem.
By the sixth track, Tory has already touched base on all of his four genres (rap, flex rap, R&B, and dancehall), and set himself up well to go wherever from here. He chooses the hardest beat anyone has heard in a long time for Benevolent, with drums that smack harder than grandma’s newspaper when you curse in front of her, and synth leads that sound like broken police sirens dripping with trap flavor. Tory is at his best here, ‘Pablo my chick TaTa,’ reminds me that I need to rewatch Narcos again, the beat flips into an old JAY-Z sample as Tory puts on his best Rick Ross impersonation for the remainder of the track. This one is gold.
The reason there were only four and a half good singles is because Future’s verse on Real Thing is a waste of space, and comes after Tory gives one of the best hooks of the year, which makes Future’s half-assed verse all the more noticeable over the C-Sick produced banger. So through track seven, Tory’s performance on Memories Don’t Die is great, simple as that.
Hate To Say is the eighth track, and it’s trying to be much deeper than it is. A lot of the lines are braggadocious over a very mellow and humbling beat, creating a weird mix. There are a couple of jewels found in the dirt here, however, insight into his life when he recorded Litty and his ending of beefs with Travis Scott and Drake are really interesting topics, and show that Tory has finally grown up a little and accepted his place in music.
The album takes a complete 180 for tracks nine through twelve, with pop/dance bangers coming in abundance. B.I.D. is alright, but just sounds like the same topics from Shooters and becomes forgettable after a few listens. 48 Floors is cool… But that’s about it for the track. There’s nothing that pops out as special, but it’s still pleasing to the ears. B.B.W.W. x Fake Show seems like it wants to be more than it is, Tory is running all over the track, flowing easily, but the beat is stupidly generic, I constantly had to remind myself to keep listening and not zone out for the whole first half of the track. The second half of the song is just a 2010 Drake impersonation.
The best NAV feature since Biebs in the Trap comes on track 12, Dance For Me, but the five-minute track can’t be saved from its own repetitiveness. Pieces is another five-minute escapade, this time with a ‘feature’ from 50 Cent. The story being told sounds like a discount Meek Mill Tony Story, and really leaves much to be desired in the I care about this department. Tory needs a cough drop or something to help him get through this song, as he’s trying to sound like an older or wiser man but really just comes off as someone who smoked a couple cigs before he recorded his verses.
One of the two pop hit attempts on MDD is Connection with Fabolous, who sounds like a better version of Big Sean throughout his verse, besides that, there isn’t much to be had here, the beat is pretty good, and the hook is fine but overstays its welcome. Good background music.
Mansa gets his moneys worth on this album and pops back up for another feature on Hillside. His hook is excellent except for the pitch of his voice. Tory fits really well over Play Picasso’s beat, he makes a couple Hennessy references, but then just kinda cuts short, his verse may have had pretty generic lyrics, but the vocal approach and flow really saved it. I wish he gave it about eight more bars. Wiz Khalifa enters in the most Wiz Khalifa way possible with a long, ‘chiiilllllllll,’ and fits like a Rawlings glove on this track. He gave me a brief flashback to 2012 before he got generic and became a pop artist; if nothing else, I like the track for the Wiz feature.
Some rip-off Justin Beiber record plays through my headphones for the sixteenth track: Hypnotized, and track seventeen, Happiness x Tell Me, can’t come faster. The Happiness half is a story that would bring tears to the coldest hearted people in this universe, as Tory delves into the death of his mother over a beautiful piano instrumental provided by Play Picasso again. The only thing I can say about the first half is that I feel like I’ve heard this track from Tory before on Loners Blvd. The piano takes its sweet time riding out with Tory harmonizing over it, and like that, Tell Me has begun. The concept for this switch is incredible, as Tory lists all the things that anyone could say wrong about him and just embraces them on his shoulder. It’s really shocking hearing someone with as big as an ego as Tory go through hard times too, and makes for one of the best sympathy-based tracks ever.
Tory knew that he made the best track in Tell Me, so he decided to top it for the outro, DON’T DIE. Good god, the piano and drums on this beat are absolutely perfect. The keys are a 90’s nostalgia trip as Tory takes me right into the streets of Toronto with him. This is his come up story, the real one, and it’s great. The heavy guitar and vocals that are barely etched into the foundation of the beat give the song just that much extra flavor, and help the track as it just goes. His voice is as clear as it’s ever been, I know because I’m listening to every word, the bars are in abundance. He stole my soul and put it right into his mind on this one. Chills. All of a sudden I never want this album to end; the entire listen was worth it for this one.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Benevolent, 4 Me, Shooters and Happiness x Tell Me
BEST FEATURE: Wiz Khalifa on Hillside
BEST PRODUCTION: Play Picasso on Benevolent
BEST SONG: DON’T DIE
SKIP: Hypnotized and Pieces
VERDICT: MEMORIES DON’T DIE failed to live up to all of Tory’s self-made hype, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. The record starts and ends really strong, but falls off in the middle for a bit, and that’s what hinders it from being great. The album sets the bar for the rest of 2018 at a pretty high standard, having solid tracks throughout, but lacks a big hit or something as original as his previous projects.