Opinion: Tory Lanez’s Constant Need for Attention

The Toronto rapper constantly makes headlines with his penchant for starting conflicts

Photo courtesy of Anton Mak/The Come Up Show/Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Anton Mak/The Come Up Show/Wikimedia Commons

By Manus Hopkins

Having a hard time keeping up with all the feuds Tory Lanez keeps seeming to land himself in? You aren’t the only one. The 26-year-old Brampton rapper has earned himself a load of publicity taking shots at some of the biggest names in the industry.

Lanez has been on the music scene, putting out mixtapes since 2009 and has risen to fame over the past 10 years. After being picked up by Mad Love and Interscope Records, his first full-length studio album, I Told You, was released in 2016. Though his music has received critical acclaim, he has still found other ways to continue reeling in attention.

Lanez’ oldest and longest-running feud was with Toronto superstar Drake. It dates back to as early as 2010, when Lanez was just a teenager. It all started with a callout from Lanez, and in 2015 he dropped a mixtape called New Toronto, which some saw as a slight to Drake, the reigning king of Toronto’s rap scene. Drake even name dropped Lanez’ mixtape in his song “Summer Sixteen,” rapping “all you boys in the new Toronto wanna be me a little.”

Though they buried the hatchet in May 2017, the two rappers spent a few years continuing to make vague jabs at each other on their tracks. When the end of their beef became Instagram official, Lanez didn’t waste a lot of time busying himself with other high-profile conflicts.

Lanez’ feud with Drake had earned him a great deal of publicity. For better or worse, it made people notice him and pay attention to him in a way they hadn’t before. With his name in the headlines, he was able to attract more potential listeners. It seems as if getting himself into disputes with other stars proved to be a way for him to stay relevant.

Lanez began using Twitter as a new platform to throw insults at his contemporaries, starting more feuds and gaining more attention. He had short-lived public disputes with artists such as Jacquees in February 2016. Later that year, Lanez also had a fiery dispute with rapper Travis Scott, of which eventually led to an in-person confrontation where blows were almost thrown.

In some cases, the hostility between Lanez and his rivals blew over quickly. Other contentions have lasted longer and continued into the present. A still-ongoing war of words ignited in 2017 between Lanez and Eric Bellinger after Bellinger accused Lanez of trying to steal his tag, twice. By this point, Lanez had become known for landing himself in hot water with other rappers, and he hasn’t failed to uphold this reputation.

Lanez started to step up his game in 2018 and throw more disses and challenges wherever he could. His ego-tripping got him into trouble with rapper Joyner Lucas and another tweet at the expense of Royce 5’9” created animosity between the two. The rifts were settled with a couple of diss tracks and an apology respectively, but Lanez’s more recent feuds haven’t ended just yet.

We’re only a few months into 2019, but it’s already been a busy year for Lanez and his pot-stirring. Not all of Lanez’s contemporaries share the view that he is “The best rapper alive right now,” as he not-so-subtly proclaimed in a tweet.

Some rappers took issue with Lanez’s self-praise, including Mysonne and Don Q, whose accusations that Lanez stole his rhymes earned him a diss track from Lanez, titled “Don Queen.” Lanez has also claimed he could outrap prominent artists: J. Cole, Pusha T and every artist on Dreamville Records.

Maybe Lanez is clever and knows igniting feuds is a good way to keep his name on everyone's lips and doesn’t mind the integrity it costs him. Or maybe he’s just insecure and needs to prove he is the best rapper around for his own validation. Either way, he’s sure to be back in the headlines soon enough with more drama.