Words by Rohit S. Loomba (@poombster)
Toronto is on a roll when it comes to Hip-Hop. With Drake seemingly having had opened the flood gates, several other such as The Weeknd, Tory Lanez, PartyNextDoor, and P. Reign have gotten a chance to get their music heard as well. Now add to that list Jazz Cartier. But let’s be clear, I’m not saying that he sounds like Drake. In fact, that is far from the truth. On his sophomore release, Hotel Paranoia, Cartier proves this point.
The 16-track effort is produced by Lantz and River Tiber. The production is lush and cinematic. Lantz holds down a majority of the production, his sound familiar from Cartier’s freshman release, Marauding in Paradise. The album opens with “Talk of the Town” which features a darker sonic backdrop driven by vocal humming paired to a simple drum line that is effective. On “100 Roses” deeper brass sounds open up the track and continue throughout the track, receiving assistance from a rolling drum line to make for a military-esque sound. “How We Do It” cleverly samples the Montell Jordan track of the same name. A slowed down sample of the classic west-coast anthem gives it a darker, grimier feel perfect for Cartier. There are no half-hearted production efforts on HP, neither is there a predictable sound that is established. One of the strengths of this album is the fact that each track offers something different in sound, allowing Cartier to show off his versatility as well. It’s tough to pick out production standouts since it is so consistently strong throughout but “Talk of the Town”, “Sticks & Move”, “Opera”, and “How We Do It” are worth additional mention.
Cartier’s sound is multifaceted. He is able to change his vocal character and his delivery from track to track. Cartier seems to do this based on the production, taking sonic cues from his producers and then molding his delivery around them. Darker production such as that on “Talk of the Town” finds Cartier being more aggressive in his delivery and content: “They say I sound like this sound like that/ Well all them niggas I sound like sounds like Jazz/ Fell off for a bit ‘til I bounced right back/ But I’m that nigga right now, don’t that sound right Lantz?”. On the more aggressive “100 Roses” Cartier demonstrates his confidence: “I swear to god that I’m heaven sent/ If I die I’m a legend, this is evidence/ They call me JFL, I’m the new JFK, Am if I’m going out, I put that on some presidents”. The ability to craft delivery according to production is extremely rare in Hip-Hop today but there is no doubt that Cartier has it. And with this he also has the lyrical ability to make his verses contextually interesting. Having lived in several countries throughout his life, Cartier attributes his musical creativity to the several cultures he’s gotten to experience. Whatever it is, it works.
Cartier blends familiar sounds with newer sounds on HP. Lyrics delivered in cadence with high-quality production make this an entertaining album to listen to. HP is Cartier’s canvas and he paints a masterpiece that is fresh and creative. There is no question that Cartier will draw more attention to himself with this release and will undeniably leave people waiting for Cartier’s next release.
4 (out of 5)