After Years of Anticipation, Expectation, & Perfectionism, Jazz Cartier Delivers with
Evan Dale // Jul 28, 2018
For the Jazz Cartier audience, fans of the Toronto soundscape, and just hip-hop listeners in general, Fleurever has been a long time coming. Not simply the time since the project was announced in 2016, but really from the time LaFleur first made a name for himself on a global scale, the world has waited patiently for a project worthy of his immense expectation - expectation that, even with the release of his 2015 debut album, Hotel Paranoia, has never come to fully endowed fruition. But that all changes with Fleurever whose gait and weight are immeasurable against Cartier’s prior endeavors.
Fleurever is not so much an exhibition of Cartier’s sound as it is a bold, wholesome display of his take on modern hip-hop’s immensity. But with the breadth of such an undertaking, he is able to show fully what his fans have always known him to have in the bag - everything. He certainly reimbursed our collective assurance that his ability to start a riot was in check with each single leading up to Fleurever’s release. Tackling the broad strokes of high-energy, high-fidelity hip-hop trends, angsty, bass-bending tracks like RIGHT NOW which takes the modern direction for repetitive and head-banging choruses, and builds upon it a set of vocally-supplemented and lyrically-endowed verses à la SAINt JHN; GODFLOWER which carefully tightropes the emotionally blending worlds of electronic, pop-punk, and hip-hop with his especially potent energies in form of which Travis Scott would approve; WHICH ONE, a selectively hype and ignorant explosion reminiscent of Atlanta’s tier; and TEMPTED, lyrical and sensual silk converging with the modern bounce of Toronto’s innovative soundscape, collectively set the stage for a full-length album primed as a 45-minute thesis on the state of high-fidelity, dark-energy, melodic hip-hop. But what we got instead was something different. Something altogether more well-rounded – more Jazz Cartier.
It’s not that Fleurever at any point can be described as an album of subtlety. Even its most seemingly somber of tracks, SOUL SEARCHER, IDWFIL, and FENCING WITH FLOWERS possess a certain energy LaFleur seems incapable of escaping. But, wayward of that energy – a signature that without any of his tracks would lose their identity – Cartier explores and unearths so much more of hip-hop and so much more of his own ability than his singles led us to assume.
Energy and angst aside, Cartier has always been a lyrical powerhouse, but has had well-documented trouble balancing penmanship with his need to indulge in sonic explosiveness. But those troubles have seemingly been overcome. Fleurever is an absurd tear of sonic mood swings and unpredictable shifts in dynamic delivery kept in check by LaFleur’s balance. Undeniable lyricism, unavoidable energy, and bold, experimental production (predominantly at the hands of longtime friend and collaborator KTOE) make Fleurever a project impossible to exist in any space outside of Cartier’s twisted carnival anti-reality. And yet, it works.
It works because LaFleur has evolved into the all-encompassing sort of artist necessary to pull together a colorful swatch of vibrant modern stylings underneath the vast umbrella of his indisputably unique and at last matured sound. He is, at this moment, the most well-rounded, broadly-styled artist representing the hip-hop community’s furthest reaches. He is also one of its most unique, unmissable, and at times even bizarre figures.
It’s a lovely thing to see an artist who has long been held in such high regard but has perhaps unfairly gauged against the shadow of his eventual promise, exceed that looming expectation. With Fleurever, and with Jazz Cartier’s decision-making not only to batten down his personal texture, but to take creative risks and explore unfamiliar musical territory, has done just that.
It’s not a work of perfection, but no artist’s best work has ever been their cleanest and most error free. And this project is at this point, undoubtedly Jazz Cartier’s best work, setting a standard for the theatrics and energy of the modern scene and once again setting an impossibly high personal bar that he will likely someday surpass again.
If and until that day comes, we’ll always have Fleurever.