Jazz Cartier Talks 'Fleurever,' The Idea of Duality & His Motivations as a Rapper

Jeremy Rodney Hall
Jazz Cartier

When Jazz Cartier announced his new project Fleurever in December 2016, fans were excited for the follow-up to his Juno Award-winning mixtape Hotel Paranoia. With no word on an official release date, Cartier dropped a string of non-album singles to hold fans over.

Despite his musical output and long tour schedule, the self-proclaimed “prince of Toronto” premiered Fleurever’s lead single “Tempted” on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio show in January 2017. In an interview with XXL, Cartier revealed he had some big names on Fleurever but remained tight-lipped about the project. Fans would have to wait almost a year until they heard anything else about Fleurever, as Cartier shifted his focus on his live shows and other ventures, including his collaboration with Mike WiLL Made-It for Red Bull Sound Select.

In April, Cartier made his return with Fleurever’s second single “Right Now.” A music video accompanied the single, and Cartier followed that up with the release of two more records in “Godflower” and “Which One.” With the spotlight back on him, Cartier is delivering his most ambitious album to date. In a recent press release, Cartier gave some insight on what Fleurever is all about. “The driving force of Fleurever is duality -- whether it’s battling the balances of love and money, risks and rewards, right and wrong, or living and dying. I shed a lot of old layers in order to grow new wings,” he explains.

With 100-plus headlining shows under his belt and living up to the expectations of being the next big rapper out of Toronto, it’s understandable why Cartier took his time with Fleurever. As he explains to Billboard, “most of the delay has really been on me and the high demand. Just me overthinking and recording too many songs and people wanting to see me perform.”

Though Cartier partnered up with Capitol Records in April 2017 to jumpstart his career, the Canadian MC confirmed with Billboard that he parted ways with the label. The project, set to release globally through Universal Music Group, is Jazz Cartier's major label debut.

As we inch closer to the release of Fleurever, check out Jazz Cartier’s conversation with Billboard below as he spoke more on the concept of duality, releasing his project under a major label, and how he’s still aiming to be everything a rapper shouldn’t be.

What’s going through your mind now that your major-label debut on its way?

Nothing. It doesn't really feel like anything different, you know? I just feel like it's another phase in my career that I've been waiting for. Two projects prior, I  just been waiting to have that impactful moment. Even after this, all the music that I've been making, I'm going to make this the initial drop and continue with some crazy follow-ups.

With Hotel Paranoia being a success, how did you want to approach Fleurever?

I'm not sure. I definitely started working with different producers because Hotel Paranoia and Marauding in Paradise only had one producer and that's [Michael] Lantz. This time around, I got some more in-house guys that I only work with and a couple outside guys to add some songs to it. But I don't really think the approach was different, just my execution for most of the songs were different. I was just writing the songs on Hotel Paranoia. This time around, there’s more feeling to it.

Did you feel any pressure to deliver something that matches up or even surpasses Hotel Paranoia?

No. Not at all [laughs]. Hotel Paranoia stood on its own. That was Jazz in a certain time of his life and I think anybody that's been following me can appreciate the evolution and the growth from the first, second, and third project. I always wanted to leave room for growth on my projects so if there isn't any and it's just being constantly compared to the other projects then I'm not really doing my job

What made you want to explore the idea of duality on the project?

I just find that duality is a constant thing that everyone goes through. But I think more so myself because of like how I was raised and where I was raised and things I've been going through. Even with all the success and everything happening like you know what a lot of shit changes in your life and people talk about cliches but cliches are cliches for a reason. You go through all of them and you just find yourself looking in the mirror and being like there's some things I have to adjust to make sure this thing doesn't happen again or just learning from certain mistakes and that's the constant struggle with me and duality.

What's the relationship between the concept of duality and the flower imagery surrounding Fleurever?

Flowers have a very short lifespan and they don’t last forever. But with Fleurever, I want my body of work to bloom like a flower and hopefully it'll get somebody through something or just somebody that loves it enough to continue listening to it. I want my body of work to last forever. People will give you flowers for like graduating or birthdays and they also give you flowers when you die and those times you don't really smell them.

That's the concept of duality when it comes to the way I see flowers and the way people see flowers. Even though they may not realize it but it's like a universal gesture or meaning.

Was there a moment where you had to find balance in your own struggles and triumphs?

Hell yeah. After hitting the road like that? Shit was like, and I say this a lot but, it's just really tough having to adjust back to a normal life after you've been traveling the world. Everything is given to you every city you go to. All you're doing is looking forward to the next show. It's always on to the next one. Once it's done it’s hard going from a fast paced lifestyle to a slow paced one. It's different.

You mention in your press release that you shed old layers to grow new wings. How did you do that?

I had to fix up my ways pretty much. If you're constantly doing the same thing you're going to get the same results. That's how I looked at my career and personal life. If I'm running around in circles doing the same thing I'm just going to keep producing the same energy. I had to really take my artistry seriously. I'm still trying to get better every single day. I don't want to just go in the studio and waste time anymore. It's all about locking in and that's where my head has been.

Who are the producers on the album?

I got my inhouse guys. KTOE, who did the single "Right Now," Krenny who also did the last song "Godflower," Lantz is on it who's been my long-time collaborator. Wondergirl is also on it. T-Minus is also on it. Graves is on it and a couple more.

You mentioned you have some big names on the project -- can you tell us who’s on it?

I kept the guest features real slim. I can't tell you who, just know it's a slim amount.

Are we getting an evolution of the “cinematic trap” sound you and producer Michael Lantz created on your previous projects or a whole new sound?

There's going to be a lot of different sounds but there's still going to be elements of cinematic trap just because it's natural, it's us. For the most part it's definitely a sign of growth. I just feel like I got inspired in a different way going into this project. There's so many things that I wanted to do but I couldn't do it all for one project so that's why there's going to be follow-ups to Fleurever.  

What are your thoughts on fans coming in to this project with high expectations after Hotel Paranoia?

I think they won’t be disappointed. They're going to love it, I hope they do. My fans know how much time I put into my music so I think that won't go unnoticed. But then also on top of it all, it's like I understand I have my core fanbase but I'm also trying to get better and grow and not stay stagnant as opposed to experimenting with things.

How are you aiming to be different when other artists have become businessmen, actors, fashion models and more?

I want to write films. I definitely want to get into fashion but not make clothes. I feel like my ideas and collaborative efforts would definitely help put myself in positions to do more. I definitely want to start somewhere you know. I don't know. I kind of want to bridge the gap between rap and tennis you know like stuff like that. Stuff you don't really see people doing. Also video games there's a whole other culture out there that’s actually booming now.

But I definitely want to do more. It's all in due time. I think rappers nowadays are a great example of like following your dreams and not letting anybody say you can't. The moment you tell someone they can’t do something they will do it. I think the media needs to show the world that. Look at all these rappers who have the same story. They always had somebody tell them they shouldn't be doing what they're doing. They went out and did it.  

You’ve accomplished a lot in your short career. What else are you aiming for?

The only accolade that I'm looking for as of right now is getting the album out and making sure my fans love it. That's the only praise that I want. It's definitely a plus wanting everything else but I can't have my sights set on certain things because then I'll just focus on that. That's how my brain works. I rather just let things happen and when it happens I'll be appreciative of the moment and just move on from there.