Forget kites, Tory Lanez — real name Daystar Peterson — is sat with me on a hotel roof in Shoreditch and he’s as high as a Boeing 747. He’s rolling a blunt whilst we wait for one of his tour crew to deliver some boxer shorts. Understandably, being so high, he’s forgotten to put any pants on and is (politely) refusing to be shot without wearing some. I’d normally be pissed off at such cliched behaviour, but the sun is beating down, the prosecco is flowing and I’m enjoying watching the hotel staff debate who should approach the sometimes-rapper, sometimes-singer to tell him he’s not allowed to smoke weed up here. It’s as close to a perfect Thursday as I’ll ever get.
It helps that Peterson is so charming. He peels back the gold foil on a bottle and pours a glass, holding it up to his eye before he splutters and giggles about how “mad” the bubbles are. He hasn’t entirely lost sight of reality, though: Beyoncé flashes up on a flatscreen TV nearby and he begins to gesticulate.“Beyoncé makes girls feel pretty. Rihanna makes girls wanna be bad,” he peers around to wait for the reaction of everyone around him. Taking the bait, six of us launch into a furious argument that doesn’t really end until we leave. Peterson observes us in the same way I watched the hotel staff.
When I call him for a follow-up a week later, he’s entirely compos mentis. The 23-year-old is driving from Maryland to New Orleans on his Level Up tour, accompanied by “Line Up The Flex” collaborator, A$AP Ferg. Having yet to release an album to bulk up his setlist, Peterson’s live shows have become notoriously dramatic.“Thank you ma’am,” he says, that endless charm evident once more, when I commend his ability to scale venue walls.“I take my performance very seriously, I take the craft of performing just as seriously as I take the creation of music. I just need to top myself each time, every time I go out there I never plan on giving everybody the same set.”
“We got a show that’s selling out around the country, all around America,” Peterson adds. I can’t argue with the facts, but teasing his confidence, I’m quick to remind him it took seven years and a personal rebrand to reach this point. After two years going it alone, at 18 Peterson signed to Sean Kingston’s label Time Is Money Entertainment before taking a break after three lacklustre years. “The whole time when I was signed there and even before that, I was still independent, still working on my own crap by myself,” he insists. “Before, it was a little bit of me trying to be everybody else, but now I’m comfortable with just being me and allow[ing] people to just see me for who I am.”