Toronto native Tory Lanez proves that success is the best revenge on his debut album.
If the only viewing platform into the life of Tory Lanez you have is through his social media, then I feel sorry for you.
What you’ll find is an admittedly arrogant rapper/singer doing what every dime-a-dozen rapper/singer does – spout off about the release of their latest project – which of course, they self-describe as genius – and showcase the rotating background of Beverly Hills mansions, downtown Atlanta strip clubs and expensive European sports cars. But in the case of the Canadian born, American raised Tory Lanez, the loud and brash antics of his social media are byproducts of his success story, each picture, video and snap serving as a testament to the climb out of the dark recesses of his former street life. Lanez’ major-label debut album, I Told You, is the embodiment of all the challenges and overcome hardships of his success, because in his mind, he’s finally ‘made it’, or is at least well and truly on his way. Yet, just because an artist has had a Billboard hit or two doesn’t mean their debut albums will be solid, especially in 2016, begging the question – will I Told You just be a radio hit surrounded by kitschy pop numbers or will it serve as the musical timestamp of the progression of Tory Lanez album review career that he’s touting it to be?
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It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover. But what exactly are the ingredients for a great cover?
There’s no secret recipe. Some of the songs below are great because they completely deconstruct the original, stripping it down to its most basic components of chords and lyrics, and build it back up again in a completely different style. For others, the genius of the original song was always present but the presentation was lacking, and when the talents of a different performer are added, the song gains a gravity that it didn’t have in its original form. And some of them, whether by generational ignorance or through the general obscurity of the original artist, simply didn’t receive the exposure they needed for their greatness to be recognized until they were delivered by a more familiar voice. But the finest of these, the ones we love the best, are simply great songs by great artists where the addition of a new twist and a new voice creates something that is greater than the sum of its parts. You can hear and recognize the glory of the original version in every note of the cover, but the listening experience is taken to another level through the talents of the covering artist.
The process for generating our list was fairly simple. We created a huge list (800+ songs) of nominees, and each of the authors that participated selected their own top 100. Those top 100 rockabilly songs lists were weighted on a curve and used to generate the list that you see below. Next week, we’ll publish a separate “honorable mention” post featuring some of the songs that didn’t earn enough votes to make the list, but were important enough to individual authors that we wanted to make sure they received some attention as well. If you’ve got a Spotify account, you can listen to most of the originals here, and the cover versions here. If you don’t have an account yet, you can request an invitation (they issue them pretty promptly now). Enjoy! — Zack Dennis
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1. Ain’t No Thang
Though they would reach the mainstream of global pop culture as fully formed psychedelic futurists, OutKast’s recorded life began with a sense of them as followers, even if there were hints that they would become leaders. Their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, contained more than average amounts of individuality and iconoclasm for its era, but the 1994 release found André 3000 and Big Boi still wearing a few influences proudly on their sleeves. That befits the album’s status as the work of two high-schoolers who couldn’t quite believe their luck – a chance meeting with the Organized Noize production team and an impromptu rap session held outside Rico Wade’s car, the pair freestyling to the instrumental of A Tribe Called Quest’s Scenario, led to a guest appearance on a remix of a single by local stars TLC. That in turn introduced OutKast to Atlanta’s LaFace label and won them their deal. By the time they knuckled down to their first LP, the pair felt different enough from their schoolfriends to wear the name OutKast like a badge of honour, but they were still in thrall to the styles and sounds of the day. As such, the best OutKast album is a take on the G-funk/gangsta style, executed with plenty of Georgia swagger and the pair’s innate determination to express their individuality. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable and vivid genre piece: the first stirrings of the style their friends Goodie Mob would soon end up naming Dirty South. Ain’t No Thang is a standout from what remains a very good record. The lyric is filled with menacing imagery (“.357 to yo’ fo’head / There’ll be mo’ dead / ’cos I’m a pro, kid”) intercut with the playful chorus that’s designed to add chills by making murder sound complacent, but which also serves to remind you that these were still schoolboys playing at gangsta rap.
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