Let’s get this out of the way first: ‘PLAYBOY’ is a mis-guided and frequently out-right offensive album by an artist whose career is spiralling into the depths. And rightly so.
On a surface level, there’s little to recommend here. Tory Lanez taps into the more overtly egregious aspects of 2k21 R&B - the sickly production, the constant vocal effects, the lyrical cliche - while failing to grapple with any of the developments being made out there on the cutting edge. It’s a tired, formulaic return, one in which tracks slurp into one another, a stodgy mess of an album that fails to find any real definition.
At worst, it’s appalling offensive. Given the charges hanging over his head, relationship ode ‘…The Make Up’ screams with violence - his line “it’s gonna fucking hurt” is without doubt one of the worst things we’ve heard in some considerable time.
The decision to link with Chris Brown on ‘Feels’ appears to be a deliberate attempt to provoke, uniting two artists with deep legacies of spousal violence. Ultimately, though, it’s just a terrible track - audio wallpaper, a kind of by-rote R&B ambience that would be entirely forgettable had it not been for the appalling previous acts committed by these artists.
‘Deceiving Eve’ is more sonic than song, a sketch that doesn’t go anywhere. ‘Y.D.L.R.’ and its tale of social media jealously is woefully wide of the mark, while ‘The Serve (It) Anthem’ is little more than surface level titillation in its list of sexual misdemeanours.
Ending with ‘Don’t Walk Away’, you can’t help but feels Tory Lanez had taken his own advice. Attempting to grapple with his infamy, Tory seems dwarfed by the repercussions of his own actions, and it crushes whatever creativity he had left.
‘PLAYBOY’ is a poor excuse for an album, a lazy song cycle that gets by on reputation and nothing more. In truth, it’s one of the worst projects we’ve yet received in 2021.
Words: Robin Murray
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