We already knew that Toronto's Tory Lanez had one of the most distinct sounds in rap, and that the WEDIDIT collective were stretching electronic music toward untapped edges. But when they all holed up in Los Angeles for a week late last year, the crew walked out with a batch of icy R&B over dark plum beats that defied even their own expectations. Cruel Intentions, debuting here today, features gripping new production from RL Grime, Shlohmo, Baauer and more, with Tory Lanez in top form throughout. We caught up with Tory backstage at Bowery Ballroom, where we discussed the EP's ins and outs over sea salt chips and Backwoods.
Tell me about the first day you guys recorded.
I got off the plane, I was tired as fuck. I went in the studio, smoked a bunch of weed. We just came up with the first one, "Acting Like" with Shlohmo. I was thinking it was some big studio, but it was actually a home—a cool small space. It was mad comfortable, I think that’s what inspired the shit, too. It was their office, the WEDIDIT office, but the office isn’t like some "let’s look at our desk all day"-type space. It’s a home-y environment. I came out with the first vocals, I didn’t write it, just freestyled it. Once the song was done, everybody in the room was like, “This is the inspiration. This is bigger than we thought it would be.” We knew it would be great, but didn’t expect it to sound so different.
What did you hear in it that made it feel that way?
I went through three beats with him. Once he got to that one, it was like, you know when you’ve got the Jay Z face on? I was like, this shit is crazy, the beat itself was just so different. I felt like, if I was to do this project, I can’t succumb to thinking in one box, this urban box. I have to try different things and be as different as I can. It was such a different sound. I was able to flip it into something I was comfortable with, and they were comfortable with.
The timing as well had to make it even more intense.
Each day, I had one day to create the best song out of that beat. RL made “In For It” there for me. He gave me that like, “I know this is the record.” That’s what it ended up being. He just knew somehow. Other than that, Baauer sent in three, and the one that I chose was just the hardest to me, and I just flipped it around.
Did they contribute on the writing, and did you work on production?
I’m naturally a guy who... I close everybody out. I’m not usually in the studio with people. This time, as I was recording—because I don’t really write stuff on paper, I just record it on the spot—I would take suggestions from other people. Like, “How do you feel about this? Do you think I should word this better?” They gave their opinions, and we collectively came up with the song.
What do you have coming up next?
The other day I had a really serious epiphany. I know people think I go very very hard right now, but I’m about to go so much harder than I ever went. I’m coming, I don’t care about anything but coming for the top. All the next music is going to be elevated, it’s going to be much greater. I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m not playing games. I just want niggas to know, b, I’m coming bro.
What do you want people to take away from the EP?
Go do what it makes you feel like doing. It’s a good piece of music to reflect to. There’s fun parts of it, there’s sad parts of it: all the moods in such a small compilation. Feel good, go fuck somebody.