Though the title of Tory Lanez's second album may certainly refer to the rapper and singer's reluctance to forgive or forget his many beefs, the penultimate track on 2018’s MEMORIES DON'T DIE suggests there's a more deeply personal meaning, too. On "Happiness x Tell Me," he shares a poignant account of the day he learned his mother died, comparing the shadow of grief descending on his family to "this green cloud just coming over us." After getting so raw and personal, he turns the moment into a challenge to the doubters and critics who now ought to know "everything is real about me." Lanez's ability to shift between such shows of vulnerability and harder-edged displays of defiance and bravado is a big reason why MEMORIES DON'T DIE is so compelling. Another is the growing sophistication of his creative approach in both lyrical and musical terms. Both come together in full force in "Shooters," which combines a high-tension trap production by C-Sick with Lanez's cocksure rhymes about the many spoils of his success since first signing with benny blanco's Mad Love label three years prior. The producer contributes another of the album's standouts with "Real Thing," in which Lanez hands the MC duties to Future while he shows off his silky vocal delivery. A generous host to his friends and allies, Lanez proves to be just as versatile alongside the many other guests, including 50 Cent on the alternately dreamy and driving "Pieces" and Wiz Khalifa on "Hillside," a moodier track in which Lanez offers another chance to consider his "real side" over a groove designed for late-night rides. As determined as he may be to prove that he's a true contender, Lanez displays an increasing willingness to change up his tactics. The irresistible electronic groove that emerges in "4 Me" and the engaging match of dancehall energy and pop melody on "Hypnotized" both chart new directions for Lanez's sound without diluting its force.

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