Loud makes no bones about his ambition and totally owns his thirst for grandeur on Une année record (A Record Year), his first solo album – produced by his Loudlongtime partners in crime, Ajust and Ruffsound. Armed with a variety of tones and flows that he uses with uncanny versatility, the rapper – who made a name for himself in Loud Lary Ajust – rhymes about his accomplishments, hopes and angst. A few weeks before his first foray into France – where his album will be released by a Universal subsidiary – the 29-year-old Montréaler re-visits the writing process for his 10 new songs.

“So Far So Good”
“We wanted to start with a bit of a shocker, a warning that sets the tone for things to come. There are a lot of melodic songs on the album, but I thought it was important to open with something a little rougher and more self-assured, so that right from the get-go, it’s clear we aren’t messing around. The tone is commanding, it’s straight to the point. Personal considerations begone.”

“Nouveaux riches” (“Newly Rich”)
“Here, we go in a completely different direction, with something a lot catchier. That song is the symbolic sequel to “56K [the standout track on his New Phone EP], because the writing is very similar. The point, here, is to take advantage of the slow beat in the background to drop ‘quotables’: nicely crafted sentences that stick in your mind, and that you can easily quote. Through it all, there are touches of humour, which I consider quite tricky to pull off. I don’t really like joke rap, so I had to be careful to avoid falling into a character. I had to find my balance.”

“Il était moins une” (“In the Nick of Time”)
“That’s me looking back at my teens and appraising my musical journey. The challenge was to write a very long verse that started with my youthful ambitions and ended with a consecration of sorts. The conclusion is a little more abstract, but in a nutshell, it means we worked hard and managed, barely, to sneak our way to success. The words ‘il était moins une’ [‘in the nick of time’] mean that it might not have worked out… It was obvious to me that I needed to tell that story over a classic rap beat at 90 beats per minute, not over a trap or R&B beat. I can imagine Nas or Prodigy rapping over this.”

“It’s a song about patience that is very much who I am; I’m not a hurried person. When I first heard the album after the mixing and mastering, this is the one that stood out for me. It’s based on a very classic songwriting principle that amalgamates the form and the content. The cheesiest example I can think of would be a singer that says ‘My heart stops’ just as the music stops. I didn’t even notice it at first, but my flow was quite dense during the verses, and the sentence ‘These things take time’ slowed down my cadence and allowed me to let go of my angst. That format allowed me to gather a bunch of disparate ideas, and to put out there that even though we sometimes lose our focus in our fucked-up lives, we need to let time do its thing.”

“Devenir immortel (et puis mourir)” (“Becoming Immortal (and Dying)”)
“The inspiration for this is Jean-Luc Godard’s movie Breathless, written by François Truffaut. I went to see that movie at Théâtre Outremont a couple of months ago, and one of the lines shook me, which I immediately jotted down in my phone: ‘Devenir immortel, et puis, mourir… ’ I was with Will [who directs his videos], and the first thing we talked about when we walked out of the theatre was Loudthat line. It asserted itself as the song title before I even wrote a single line. It’s a somewhat pretentious way to express the fact that I’d like to give everything I have and leave an impression behind with my work. Ultimately, I believe this desire for immortality motivates all creative types, but rap allows one to express it more honestly than other musical genres.”

“Toutes les femmes savent danser” (“All Women Know How to Dance”)
“That’s my very first radio-formatted pop song. All I’m missing to make the 3:20 mark is the bridge and a third verse. [Laughs] Seriously, though, I’m a fan of pop music, most notably Taylor Swift, whom I consider an influence. Several of her songs on 1989, like ‘Blank Space’ or ‘Wildest Dreams,’ are pop masterpieces, in my opinion. We asked for the help of guitarist Pierre-Luc Rioux, who’s worked with David Guetta, to co-write the song. He came up with several loops that Ruffsound and Ajust arranged. As for me, the title came first, once again. The basic idea is to say that no one is irreplaceable, and that even though it peters out with one person, or you get excited with a love that’s going nowhere, it’s all good, there will be others. I’m not putting down women by saying they’re all the same; I’m saying that a relationship is not an end in itself.”

“SWG” (featuring Lary Kidd)

“This one’s a reflection on what men are willing to do to impress or conquer women. They’re observations that avoid being moralistic. I didn’t show Lary what I’d written because I wanted him to do his thing, no censorship. All I told him was the song’s title, ‘Sleeping With Girls,’ and he went in a completely different direction. Not long ago, he would’ve been much more vulgar, but in this case, he decided to come at it from a social angle.”

“Hell, What a View”
“It all starts from the chorus, which had been bouncing around in my mind for a long time: ‘Cancelle tous mes rendez-vous/ J’prends plus d’entrevue, vous parlerez entre vous/I finally found a place where I see none of you / And I’ve been thinkin’ to myself… Hell, what a view’ (the first two lines: ‘Cancel all my appointments / I’m not doing any more interviews, talk amongst yourselves’) From that point on, all the verses justify this desire for exile, and bolster my need to say ‘fuck all y’all.’ The creative principle is the same as on ‘Nouveaux riches,’ because slow beats are conducive to impactful lines. It’s the type of song that takes me a long time to write.”

“On My Life” (featuring Lary Kidd and 20some)
“I’ve been wanting to collaborate with 20some, one of Québec’s most meticulous rappers, for a long time. He is super-precise and efficient, but somewhat underestimated compared to the other guys in Dead Obies. I gave him carte blanche and, in the end, he recorded a two-minute verse! I really wanted him to do something like that, a bit like Rick Ross’s very long verse at the end of Kanye West’s ‘Devil in a New Dress.’ It’s a classic brag-rap song that doesn’t have a specific subject. That kind of freedom allows everyone to say whatever they feel like.”

“Une année record” (“A Record Year”)
“That one’s an old NeoMaestro song, to which we added live arrangements of guitar, saxophone, piano… Because it’s the album’s last song, I used it to wrap things up and re-visit all of the album’s themes. The result is a soul number like I like ‘em, like some Jay-Z classics on The Blueprint or The Black Album.”

Une année record is out now in stores and on most streaming platforms.