When I first met Jazz “Jacuzzi La Fleur” Cartier in 2014, he was still relatively unknown to those not tapped into the Toronto rap scene. In the crowd waiting to get into the A$AP Ferg show, my eyes would have been drawn to Cartier even if a mutual friend hadn’t quickly introduced us. The rapper was sporting a murdered-out fishing vest with what I think were Gucci loafers, and naturally stood out from the masses.

At age 22, Cartier comes off as a man beyond his years both in his lyrics, and in casual conversation. The son of two parents whose nomadic careers led them across the world, Cartier moved around a lot in his youth. By the time he was 16 Cartier was living on his own in his native Toronto, and dealing drugs to get by. A club connoisseur, Cartier could be regularly seen enjoying the nightlife downtown.

His first album, Marauding In Paradise, is an expression of these dark influences. The cover artwork references the Adam and Eve creation story, and in many ways the album’s release saw Cartier reinvent himself from a guy people knew for his drug-induced debauchery to a promising musician. It was a difficult path, with the album taking many different shapes since work began on it in 2011, but one that saw Cartier come into his own as an artist. Cartier wasn’t alone in his development, as his long-time friend and executive producer of MIP, Lantz, has been working with him since they were teenagers.

While I wanted to profile him before the album dropped, things never seemed to pan out. When I finally get the chance to reconnect with him, it’s through a FaceTime call he takes from a studio in Toronto. While Cartier is polite throughout and eloquent in his responses, he shows little interest in reflecting on past achievements for too long and seems to be itching to finish up press and start recording.

Aware of the platform Marauding In Paradise has given him, Cartier exudes a businesslike urgency about what needs to be done to take his career to the next level. The discipline he’s shown in this past year is something he sees as a product of the maturity that he picked up living alone and continually working towards something that he takes seriously, unlike some people who take up rapping as a hobby after they’re done school and stuck in their parent’s basements.

“A lot of people still live at home with their moms. Not to discredit them, but you can’t really flaunt independence or exude some kind of character when your whole support system is based on the fact that you have stable living conditions at home. I think living on my own since I was young has given me a bigger perspective on life. I see things a lot differently now,” said Cartier.

Much has been made of Drake, who lived with his own mom in Toronto’s opulent Forest Hill neighbourhood during his early days as an artist, so one can understand why Cartier would seek to subconsciously distance himself from the so-called “6 God”. While Toronto is now a household name thanks to Drizzy’s exploits, the picture many have of the city is at odds with the grittier version Jazz has been living, far from the reaches of the city’s north end.

One similarity that Cartier has with Drake is a close relationship with his favourite producer. Where Drake had 40, Cartier has Lantz. The latter duo can be assumed to be on much more personal terms as they’ve been working together since they were 15, and it shows. With MIP coming off as a polished debut, Cartier is eager to see where their professional relationship takes them.
“If something were to ever happen to Lantz, it wouldn’t be the same. As long as he’s breathing and I’m breathing, I think we’re gonna be working together. It’s even hard for me to work with other people now because I’m just so used to our relationship and how fluently we work… He’s the furthest thing from a yes-man and I’m the furthest thing from a yes-man, so we get at each other a lot. He’s the kind of guy I can text at 5 a.m. with a random idea.”

Keeping things in-house is the utmost priority for Cartier at the moment. In an era where rapper’s personalities are normally diffused throughout a massive homogenous crew, Cartier’s brashness and single-handed commitment to his own vision is refreshing. You know that when he tweets something, it hasn’t been watered down and you can appreciate him for his willingness to stick his own neck out.

Given the nature of his songs, where crazy parties and ensuing late-night trysts figure prominently, one could wonder what his recording process is like. Cartier is quick to denounce the idea that he indulges in any drugs while behind the mic or on stage.

“Everything I talk about is usually just from going out at night. In the studio, and when I perform, I keep things one hundred percent professional. I don’t drink before I get up on stage so I can keep a clear mind. Now, I’m in the studio every day, so I don’t have time for parties. I’m like full straight-edge,” said Cartier.

The music industry is fickle in its propensity for casting aside artists as quickly as it hypes them up, but Cartier doesn’t appear to be putting himself under pressure to release a quick follow-up only to sacrifice losing the fans he gained from his intense first-person narratives.

“This year I was just starting out, but next year I’m gonna snap and I’m gonna make sure the wave is felt, because I’m not content with staying where I’m at right now.”

Unwilling to speak on a solid release date, Cartier simply smiled and said his sophomore record would come out “when it’s ready and the time’s right.”

Cartier often calls his own number on tracks and says his own name in the midst of spitting bars like he does on MIP-standout, “Switch.” If he continues to thrive at the same quick pace, he’ll soon have arenas full of people shouting along with him.

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