Sorry 4 What
Tory Lanez's seventh studio album, Sorry 4 What, was bound to be controversial for reasons beyond its title or the music it contained. That's because it arrived in September 2022—only a few months before the Brampton, ON, rapper and singer stood trial, charged with the shooting of Megan Thee Stallion in July 2020. He was ultimately convicted on three felony counts and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Though Lanez did make lyrical references to the incident in past tracks, he mostly avoids directly addressing it in the songs here, leaving listeners to speculate what might be "weighin' on my mind" on the opening track, "Sorry 4 What? // LV BELT." What's unmistakable is the note of defiance that he expresses throughout the album, which is arguably his fiercest and most purely hip-hop release. A far cry from the glossy '80s-pop aesthetic that prevailed on 2021's Alone at Prom, the tense, tight trap sound of "Where 2 Start" and "Not Tricking // Black Keys" and Lanez's preference for fiery raps over seductive crooning reflect a very different mood and mind frame. Likewise, the often crowded guest list for the preceding albums has been pruned down to the names of A Boogie wit da Hoodie (who adds force to "Role Call") and Yoko Gold (the Toronto artist appears on "Collection"). While the roster of producers includes Smash David, Jakik, Sergio .R, and longtime Lanez collaborator Play Picasso, the artist keeps a tight control on the proceedings, resulting in a focused set. As much as Lanez wants to project toughness, Sorry 4 What includes many moments that showcase his softer side, an equally characteristic aspect of his persona. With the dreamy vibe of "Hennessy Memories" and "Hurting Me" comes chances to express the emotional vulnerability that lies beneath the bravado. Nor can he conceal the strain of mounting pressures on "No More Parties in LA," a gritty yet haunting track that hints at the toll of the glamorous life. Like many songs here, it takes on additional meaning knowing what's to come for its creator.