Embattled singer and rapper Tory Lanez arrived as a contender when his debut single "Say It," enhanced with a sample of Brownstone's 1994 hit "If You Love Me," became a Top Ten hit on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart and reached number 23 on the Hot 100. The tender ballad eventually went platinum. Prior to the release of his debut album, I Told You, Lanez flooded the market with an album's worth of promotional singles, and he became just as known -- if not more known -- for his persistent provocation of fellow Torontonian Drake. I Told You, an uneven and promising debut album made of almost entirely new material, shows that Lanez remains in Drake's shadow. He might be able to leave it once he's able to refrain from reactionary creative choices, like covering the Caribbean-flavored "Controlla" and recording the trend-hopping "Luv," included here, in its wake. Likewise, I Told You is excessive in length, a quality it shares with Drake's albums. It's padded out with skits that effectively add a part-biographical, part-fantastical filmic edge, but there's ultimately a solid 40-minute album within the 79-minute program. Vocally, Lanez shifts back and forth through a number of approaches and continues to show that he's most affecting when in vulnerable falsetto mode, as on "Cold Hard Love" and "High." He's definitely more skilled at singing than he is at rapping.
A smart, succinct selection of the best pre-album cuts and the highlights here would make for one of the year's better commercial R&B debuts.
|I Told You/Another One / Carl Caruso / Daniel Gonzalez / Sarah Johnson / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||8:39|
|Guns and Roses / Ben Ash / Matti Beresin / Noah Beresin / Daystar Peterson / Play Picasso||Tory Lanez||4:28|
|Flex / Carl Caruso / Vanessa Elisha / Marcel Everett / Daniel Gonzalez / Sarah Johnson / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||5:45|
|To D.R.E.A.M / Benjamin Ash / Daniel Gonzalez / Javeon McCarthy / Nathan Perez / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||6:35|
|4 A.M. Flex / Daniel Gonzalez / Daystar Peterson / Sergio Romero||Tory Lanez||4:27|
|Friends with Benefits / Adam Feeney / Daniel Gonzalez / Nathan Perez / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||5:30|
|Cold Hard Love / Daniel Gonzalez / Nathan Perez / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||5:58|
|High / Daniel Gonzalez / Magnus August Høiberg / Benjamin Levin / Nathan Perez / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||4:25|
|Dirty Money / Daniel Gonzalez / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||5:37|
|Question Is / Daystar Peterson / Andrew Wansel||Tory Lanez||7:11|
|Loners Blvd. / Noah Beresin / Benjamin Freedlander / Dacoury Natche / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||6:58|
|All the Girls / Daniel Gonzalez / Nathan Perez / Daystar Peterson||Tory Lanez||4:48|
|Say It / Gordon Chambers / Nichole Gilbert / Dave Hall / Kevin Madison / Daystar Peterson / Erick Sermon / Andrew Wansel / Autoro Whitfield||Tory Lanez||4:26|
|LUV / Magnus August Høiberg / Anthony St. Aubin Kelly / Benjamin Levin / Stephen John Marsden / Wayne Burton Jerome Passley / Daystar Peterson / Mark Anthony Wolfe||Tory Lanez||4:10|