Mad Love / Interscope Records
Mad Love / Interscope Records

The rise of Tory Lanez felt like a slow burn.

The Toronto-born songwriter devoted countless studio hours to other artists’ projects, released a slew of his own mixtapes and steadily built an organic buzz as a double-threat rapper-slash-singer through his sweat-soaked, wild-out stage shows.

But since the man born Daystar Peterson cracked radio with “Say It” off his proper 2016 debut LP, I Told You, his output has been prolific. There is an urgency here—as with so many modern trap stars—to strike while the club is hot.

And so, a scant seven months after dropping his commercially successful major-label sophomore platter, March’s Memories Don’t Die, Mr. Lanez piles on with a third offering, Love Me Now. (A fourth, the Latin-lingo’d El Agua, is already in the works for 2019.)

Lanez’ swavey sound remains intact, thanks to a production team highlighted by CashMoneyAP, OG Parker, Smash David and C-Sick. His subject matter (his superfly lifestyle and the troubled relationships with women and haters it invites) seldom dives below the surface and risks sounding a little too matchy-matchy from track to track.

If you were already a fan, Lanez has served another helping of the warbled Auto-Tune, melancholic melodies and sturdy drum patterns you love. If Lanez hasn’t won you over yet, however, Love Me Now is unlikely to do the trick. Not that one should expect high-concept art from a tracklist stylized in sTuDLy LeTteRs or a Brady Bunch–inspired album jacket featuring both the human and Muppet versions of its creator.

The 26-year-old’s latest 49-minute collection bumps and blends along quickly, with several of its 15 tracks clocking in at under three minutes. Half the songs here feel ready-made for the FM dial. While Lanez claims Toronto, his life has bounced him around the U.S., and the sounds of hip-hop hotbeds Miami, L.A. and Atlanta—the three cities where Love was recorded—are all represented.

After years of blurring the lines between R&B and hip-hop, the man knows how to write trap pop that can stick for a season. Hooks are his specialty. The downside here is limited creative risk, sonically or lyrically. Lead singles “Talk to Me” (featuring Rich the Kid) and “Keep in Touch” (with Bryson Tiller) drill this home. But so do cuts like “Miami” (with Gunna), “Flexible” (with Lil Baby and Chris Brown, who appears twice on the album) and “Cut Me Off” (with fellow Torontonian NAV).

Yep, there are a ton of cameos. Guests pop up on 11 of the playlist’s tracks, and most welcome are 2 Chainz on “Duck My Ex” and an extra-profane Trey Songz on “S.W.I.N.G.” Unfortunately, one anticipated feature failed to make the cut. Tory’s collaboration with the late XXXTentacion could not be cleared before Love’s deadline.

“I specifically chose this project just to work with whoever I felt like working with,” Lanez told L.A. Leakers last month. "And to not even overthink the project. Most of my albums, I’m stuck on it for a long, long time. This one I was just like, ‘Yo, I feel free. Let’s put it out.’”

With that approach comes the breeziness of an easy, star-studded listen fit for 2018. On the flip side, the staying power of Love Me Now should be brief.

In other words, you might not love it later. —Luke Fox

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