“Lais’ plain, memorable lyrics and mesmerizing, electric piano-driven production capture the listener in a deep spell” – HotNewHipHop
“Lais has a knack for melody and a great ear for beats” – Pigeons and Planes
Bursting out of the vibrant Toronto scene of rappers, singers and multi-hyphenates, Lais is the latest Canadian Hip-Hop/R&B hybrid to take the Internet by storm. Like superstar countrymen Drake, The Weeknd and PartyNextDoor, Lais specializes in soundtracking drug-fueled late nights with rhythmic singing over skittering beats and hazy, dreamlike instrumentation. Since posting his music to Reddit in July 2014, Lais racked up millions of Soundcloud plays and earned positive press from Pigeons & Planes, Noisey and HotNewHipHop. On February 19th, 2016 Lais released his 114 EP, featuring an appearance from Skizzy Mars and production from CVRE and Vinnyx, which he hopes will propel him to the next rung on the ladder to stardom.
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Lais was an eager student of music as a child, learning the violin to fuel his creativity. He moved to Toronto just before starting high school, leaving behind his middle school friends in Virginia. Instead of going out of his way to make new friends, the introverted Lais spent his days writing songs, recording songs on his computer using the microphone from an XBox headset. Many of the recordings he made during this period became Session One, his first full-length project.
“Session One was a bunch of songs I threw together because that’s what I was feeling at the time, like expecting nothing of it at all,” recalls Lais. “I was like, “Bro, if I get 100 plays on this song, I’m gonna fucking go buy 8 bottles.”
In July 2014, Lais decided on a whim to post Session One to Reddit’s most popular Hip-Hop subreddit, r/HipHopHeads, writing, “Hey HHH, I go by the name Lais. Fresh out of Toronto with no fans yet, I’m hoping to gain at least one today with my debut project, SESSION ONE. Take a listen.” He received overwhelmingly positive remarks on his mixtape, earning 491 likes and 128 comments on his work. Lais’s post reached beyond the Reddit community and found the ears of many Hip-Hop blogs and tastemakers, including New York rapper Skizzy Mars, who invited Lais to collaborate on several tracks and join Mars’ Penthouse Music collective.
Energized by his positive reception, Lais decided to pursue music full-time, collaborating with Toronto producers such as CVRE and DrewsThatDude to build a prolific Soundcloud portfolio and a dedicated fanbase. Pigeons and Planes praised “Distance (ft. Skizzy Mars)” as “triumphant” and “celebratory,” praising its blend of R&B and Hip-House. Noisey praised single “For You,” comparing it to fellow Toronto luminaries PartyNextDoor and The Weeknd. Lais earned his greatest exposure yet in Summer 2015, when Drake showcased “For You” during his OVOSound Radio show on Apple’s Beats 1 directly before he released his own mega-singles “Hotline Bling” and “Charged Up.”
Lais’s new seven-track 114 EP builds upon the momentum and recognition afforded by his Drake co-sign and delves into new artistic territory for Lais, but the album did not come without a major bump in the road. Shortly after Lais completed the initial 114 masters, thieves stole producer CVRE’s laptop, taking all the masters with it. Not to be deterred, Lais re-recorded the project from scratch and he believes the results sound “even better than the original.”
“114 was a house I moved into when I first moved to Canada from Virginia,” explains Lais. “Right at the end of 8th grade I moved to the Toronto area. it’s kind of just going over what I’ve been through during these little times, and I kind of wanted this to be the end of that chapter.”
On the 114 EP, Lais explores the dark side of partying and sex, but his voice betrays an innocence that sets him apart from the hedonism of The Weeknd. The result resembles a unusually pleasant hangover. Lead single “Moon & Stars 2” (produced by CVRE) is a woozy, organ-assisted account of a late-night ride with a romantic partner that HotNewHipHop called “another bright example of the genre-blurring sound coming out of Toronto right now.” Lais describes second single “Cocaine Rain,” premiered by Complex, as “kind of self reflective, pretty much realizing that blowing money and doing drugs was just an easy way to cover up any issues I was dealing with.” 114 EP is a fully realized effort from Lais, and is the next step on his unlikely rise from message boards to world tours.
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