Tory Lanez Chixtape 5 Album Review

Image via Complex

Tory Lanez’ latest album release, “Chixtape 5” is a refreshing tribute to cult classic 90’s and 2000’s R&B and Hip-Hop featuring some of the biggest household names to ever grace the genre’s music scene. The album comes as the fifth installment to Lanez’s Chixtape series that became a fan favorite at the beginning of the 2010s.

In an interview with radio host Big Boy, Lanez talked about why he made this new Chixtape an album instead of a mixtape like his previous releases.

“Chixtape 5, not only is it an album; it’s finally an album… The chixtape series started in 2011 and I can’t even believe that people have anticipated it this long and championed it this far.”

In the same interview, Lanez said that the difference between this Chixtape and the others is the era he chose to focus on when curating the samples and features.

“It’s like, all of the other Chixtapes that came out, they’re predominantly R&B records where I sample only the old school, timeless records that came out of the eras of the late ’80s, the early 90’s, the mid 90’s, late 90’s and now the Chixtape 5, it is everything sampled from the 2000s to 2006… and that’s where all the samples come from. That’s where all the features come from.”

The album’s roster is chock-full of R&B’s finest including but not limited to: T-Pain, Jermaine Dupri, Trey Songz, 112, Snoop Dogg, Myá, Chris Brown, and Jagged Edge as well as Ashanti who also adorns the cover in true ’06 fashion with the high ponytail and Sidekick Cellphone in hand.

What makes this project different from any other feature-heavy album is the hands-on utilization of the original magic of the songs and the artists who made them famous. Lanez not only invited these vets to be apart of the project but to actually perform new verses over re-vamped and remastered versions of their own classics.

The Run Down

The album has 18 tracks total, 4 of which are skits placed neatly between songs to craft a storyline about the transition from one relationship between Lanez and character “Jalissa” to the next girl, “Leah” and all of the shenanigans that ensue in between.

It seems that the project is separated into 3 parts, the first of which starts with short Skit “Jalissa’s Back!” where she speaks of the “warm” greeting she will give Lanez upon his return to the City.

This first part includes 3 songs: “The Trade” featuring Jagged Edge and Jermaine Dupri, “Jerry Sprunger” with T-Pain and “Beauty in the Benz” featuring Snoop Dogg. The progression of the songs go from an actual “trade” from one girl to another in “The Trade” which samples 2003 record “Trade It All Part 2” by Fabolous and Jagged Edge to the expression of infatuation in “Jerry Sprunger” which plays on the name of infamous cable reality show “Jerry Springer” and T-Pain’s song “I’m Sprung”, first released in 2005.

The focus on new love continues in the third track “Beauty in the Benz” featuring Uncle Snoop as he adapts Snoop and super-producer, Pharrell’s 2003 classic “Beautiful” by lowering the octave of Pharrell’s original vocals to make a new version of a familiar summer classic.

Section two is marked by the Skit titled “Leah’s Introduction” and is the first time we hear the voice of the girl who all this fuss is about. The tracks following include “The Take” which samples Chris Brown’s “Take you down”, “Broken Promises”, “The Fargo Splash” which is a splice between Ludacris’ 2003 “Splash Waterfalls” and Tony! Toni! Tone!’s “Whatever you want” record. The section is finished off with “Luv Ya Gyal” which takes the primary chords and message from The-Dream’s 2007 “ I Luv Your Girl” hit and finally ends with “Yessir”.

This second section slows down substantially from part one, becoming a lot more sensual in a tone in the first few tracks like “Take You Down” and “Luv Ya Gyal”. As the vibe mellows it instantly is re-hyped in “Yessir” which preludes the climax of the plot with the third skit “Busted”. The tone completely changes as it flows from Myá’s 2000 track “Best of Me” to the aforementioned skit which is a confrontation between the love triangle that reveals Jalissa’s schemes.

The third and final part of the album takes a complete 360 turn from the beginning as Lanez is left reeling from Leah’s betrayal which sparks the onset of some of our favorite heartbreak classics like Trey Songz’ 2007 hit “ Can’t Help But Wait” which is sampled in “Still Waiting”. Mario’s 2007 “Crying out for me” in the track “The Cry” and “Fool’s Tale” which samples Ashanti’s 2002 “Foolish”. Each track in this part of the album brings us back to those dramatic rain scenes of the 2000s and really helps communicate the pain of betrayal that Lanez feels from Jalissa and Leah’s scheme.

The album ends with one last skit which is a letter from Tory to Leah telling her that if it wasn’t for her betrayal he wouldn’t have the inspiration to write music like the one on the tape he sends her which alludes to….a Chixtape 6?Whether or not this is actually what happens is obscured by the final voice-over being cut short as Leah reads the end of the letter. Despite this, we can guess that Lanez has another Chixtape in the works that may be a continuation of this storyline.

The Verdict: Are we adding this album to our MySpace pages?

Overall, Chixtape 5 deserves a solid 7 out of 10 for Lanez’ dedication to staying on theme and paying homage to the 2000s era that helped shape today’s R&B music. The usage of culturally iconic samples mentioned here and those not mentioned plays into the current obsession with nostalgia specifically when it comes to 90s and 2000s music and entertainment culture.

Lanez is successful in his attempt to bring continuity and the storytelling element back to the creation of albums that has been lost in R&B projects today. His use of a storyline whose thread plays virtually seamless throughout each track from start to finish deserves a few stars alone.

There is no specifically notable places where this album falls short but some could say that the novelty and iconic use of so many features may have also been the Achilles Heel of this project. Lanez’ pursuit to fuse the old vibe with the new by bringing so many artists onto the project slightly drowns out his voice on his own body of work. It has been said that too much of a good thing can become bad and while the results of so many features did not ruin the project it may have watered it down in some ways.

One thing that was great and stuck out about this project was its fresh take on the reference tracks. These samples were not simply remixes of the old versions but were carefully fused with new production that made the tracks sound fresh while still offering a sense of familiarity. Lanez’ production team did a great job of using these samples creatively but playing with different elements of the original songs in each track. Some songs the octaves and pacing was slowed down to give a funkier vibe like “Beauty In the Benz”. Others looped popular lines and chords like “Jerry Sprunger” and “The Take” staggered across the songs that almost created a call and response effect. Each song was put together in a way that was recognizable and reminiscent of the reference tracks but different enough that it didn’t feel redundant.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that this album will touch the hearts of fans and bring them back to a much simpler and fun time in modern R&B music but, generally speaking, this may not go down in history as the best technical project we’ve seen from Lanez. Despite this critique, this album was undoubtedly iconic in what it represents and in the emotion it evokes and it definitely deserves its accolades in bringing back the artistry of creating a themed album.