Photo: Tommy Nowels
Picture this: you're in a crowded bar with your friends, the lights are low, the music is loud, and you're having a good time. You look up from your drink and you see me across the room. We lock eyes. You blush, I look away, but before you know it I'm sitting next to you. Before you can say "hello" I lean in and whisper the fated words, "You like Jazz?"
I'm not talking about Kind of Blue or Thelonious Monk though, I'm talking about Toronto hip-hop prodigy Jazz Cartier. And before you know it, it's too late. I've launched into an in-depth description of his discography, his canon, and how his sound helped shape the landscape of hip-hop post-2015.
Though the above may sound like a joke (or to an astronomically improbable few, a fantasy), that story is my reality. It's been three long years since Cartier released his previous project, Fleurever, a high-octane and meticulously-crafted record full of his signature hazy and experimental hip-hop sound. Since then, fans have been treated to only a small handful of singles, leaving many of us plagued by Cartier's absence, practically foaming at the mouth for more music.
2021 is the year of change, so they say, as this year Cartier finally releases his newest album The Fleur Print, following a hectic year of sporadic singles and pure hype. The end result? A ten-track record with some of the most focused, well-written and sonically impressive hip-hop heard this year.
Joined alongside guests like Buddy, Kari Faux, and Cousin Stizz, Cartier's reintroduction into the hip-hop stratosphere couldn't have gone better than The Fleur Print. If you were left fiending for more after 2018's Fleurever then you're in luck, as Cartier's newest release sees the Toronto rapper synthesizing his old and new styles with a signature spin that only he could provide. It has bangers, it has bounce, and like Cartier himself, every song is instilled with a laid-back swagger.
Standout tracks like "Crazy but It's True" and "Nothin 2 Me" with Cousin Stizz are ominous and spacious bangers primed for both the club and your late-night kickback playlist. They pair well alongside tracks that feature Cartier's more traditional style, like album opener "Cuzzi's Revenge" and the hard-hitting "Disclosure." Both are decorated with rumbling bass signals, mechanical hi-hat tracks and tightly-woven vocal performances. The Fleur Print is not unafraid to take risks though, as its tracks with Kari Faux and Buddy, "Glamourous" and "Two of 'Em" respectively, offer fans a relatively minimalistic style that still sees the Toronto rapper effortlessly flowing over every beat he's given.
Whether rapping over the glittering ambiance of "Cheddar" or showcasing undeniable chemistry with each of his guests, Cartier pulls no punches on The Fleur Print. After a three-year gap, the Toronto rapper returns with a seasoned combination of styles old and new, quick to show off his skills while pushing their very boundaries in the process.
Listen to The Fleur Print below: