Review: Jazz Cartier makes his play for stardom on Fleurever

On his major label debut, the Toronto rapper is efficiently and single-mindedly focused on success – almost too focused

Rating: NNN

It’s a big summer for Toronto rap, with a string of notable releases that began with Drake’s Scorpion. Drizzy is still king of the charts, but self-proclaimed “prince of the city” Jazz Cartier is clearly making a play for a wider audience with his third full-length and first since signing to major Universal Music.  

Although the 25-year-old has broadened his collaborators beyond go-to producer Lantz, Fleurever is the MC’s most cohesive album to date: it’s all about hooky flows and hard, trap drums tuned for maximal impact on club systems, but undercut by streaks of melodic melancholy. Opener Soul Searcher begins with a sample of the TTC voice announcing Spadina Station, as Cartier raps in double time to bring listeners up to speed on his ethos: the lone wolf who cleared out toxic influences and is single-mindedly focused on success. (He might have diamonds dripping from his neck, but he’s still riding the rocket.)

That narrative is more interestingly complicated in the more love life-oriented cuts among the album’s 16 tracks. Cartier largely alternates between songs that riff on spoils/pitfalls of fame (Which One, VVS, Gliss) and relationships (Function, IDWFIL, Distractions). There’s something nice and honest about songs that live in conflict and contrast with one another – i.e. wanting different things from relationships at different times – but in paring back the sonic palette to trap-y bangers Fleurever has a flattening effect at times. His rapping is clear and cocky, relishing pointed punchlines and bon mots, but his chorus singing is less dynamic.

Fleurever is impressive in its tightness and efficiency, but there are times when his lone-wolf determination slips into sameness.

Top Track: IDWFIL | @kevinritchie

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