When thumbing through a list of rappers known to juggle the varying degrees of human emotion in their music, few would conclude that Torae was a prominent speaker on the matters. The Big Apple bomber earned his stripes in most fan’s eyes with his tough-as-steel collaboration album with Marco Polo: Double Barrel, a project that chafed the eardrum just from experience. But Torae maintains he’s a multifaceted fellow and this past Valentine’s Day, he released a more lighter affair with DJ Blazita in Heart Failure.
TSS Crew’s TC caught up with Coney Island’s lyricist on the helm of his heartbreaker to factor out the inspiration behind the tape and his career overlay as a whole.
TSS: So…no one would go out of their way to send blatant shots at Valentine’s Day if there wasn’t some sort of backstory there. So…what did she do?
Torae: [Laughs!!!] Nah…it’s nothing like that! Definitely not aimed at one person. It was a number of things. First and foremost, I always get the questions from my female fans and followers like “we love you” and this that “but when are you going to talk more on our speed?” And I didn’t want to be conceived as a one-trick pony basically. And I kind of saw myself getting put in a box since I did the Double Barrel album, which was real hard. And being associated with Duck Down which is a traditionally underground and raw label for rap. So I wanted to show people that I’m an all-around artist and not what they probably think I am.
Everybody goes through different emotions. Sometimes you want to be in love, sometimes you want fight, play ball, listen to music—you know what I mean? People go through different feelings and I feel like it should be reflected in the music.
TSS: Absolutely. So Heart Failure is more of a personal expression then?
Torae: Yeah, I think it’s a testament to my storytelling abilities which I don’t know if people were able to get from my previous material. So you know, it’s just me kind of conceptually telling a story between me and a female, dating, getting intimate, having different disagreements, breaking up to make up. It tells a story. If you listen to tracks 1-11 straight through, you’ll see the storyline and I think it will come across clearer that way.
TSS: Speaking of Double Barrel, would you see this is the complete opposite?
Torae: Yeah! It’s the polar opposite of Double Barrel—in content. Obviously the effort and ability are the same and I think the conceptualizations of it is the same just like Double Barrel. But I didn’t go soft; I’m still spittin’ and it’s still real rap. I’m still using my same producers like Khryris, Eric G. Vitamin D., you know the usual suspects that people no more. I didn’t stray too far from what people know me for. I just wanted to tell a different story.
TSS: When you were recording the project, did you explicitly tell them that’s where you were going with it?
Torae: Yeah, they knew! Because I needed a certain sound with a certain feel. So I let ‘em all know what it was and they were like “Oh word? That’s what we doing this year?” [Laughs] But you know, it’s Valentine’s Day and what better gift to give the world than new music?
TSS: And you have “Outta Here” which is pretty fire. We haven’t seen Mike Shorey’s name in a minute.
Torae: Yeah! I figured if I was going to jump in the Fabolous lane, I was going to go all the way with it!
TSS: Is that going to be a single with the video treatment?
Torae: Yeah, I plan on it. I think it will have a shock value for people not expecting it but it’s not sappy, it’s not corny and I think it showcases my song-making ability on a different level like “O.K. he doesn’t just do hardcore, boom-bap records. He can do stuff with a broader appeal.”
TSS: It seems like New York has struggled as of late to balance the commercial realm with the lyricism. You think this is an example of what needs to happen more?
Torae: Yeah, I hope so. At the end of the day, I can’t compromise my integrity to make a trendy record. But I love “chick songs,” I love feel-good music. I like to party. Obviously I can’t listen to Freddie The Foxxx and M.O.P. all day. It’s just not logical. Like I brought up Fab a few minutes ago, who gets a lot of flack for making commercially geared records. But don’t get it confused: you put that boy in the booth and he’ll spit. Same with Lloyd Banks. He spits and still makes those records. Or look at Skyzoo’s success with “Speakers On Blast.” We all know Sky as a MC’s MC; he can rap all day.
But sometimes you have to make records to show people it’s bigger than showing you can spit for hours on end. It’s bigger than having the ill bar count. You have to make records. This is a record business and if you want to stay in the business, you have to make records for the record business. [Heart Failure] shows that side of Torae.