Loud Pays It Forward in More Ways Than One on 'Aucune promesse'

Published: May 26, 2022
As originally published by Antoine-Samuel Mauffette Alavo on Exclaim!

Loud has been holding onto Quebec's rap crown for more than half a decade. With the release of his third full-length effort, Aucune promesse, the Montreal wordsmith follows up beating the sophomore slump on 2019's Tout ça pour ça by looking ahead toward cementing his legacy. By maintaining his sound while making more space for his personal style, he manages to do so on his most mature and coherent effort yet.

"Provider" establishes the record's tone right out of the gate, with Loud addressing his family's support and his efforts to provide generational wealth. This deeper level of flossing is a leitmotif sprinkled throughout the record with recurring JAY-Z quotes and cinematic references. In turn, the subtle vocal samples and sound effects that colour the lush beat of "I Said What I Said" don't feel forced, rounding out the song's impactful production. Barring the notable addition of Stack Moolah, Loud is surrounded by his usual cast of producers, with Ajust and melodious mentor Ruffsound at the helm, which allows the rapper to focus on providing quality bar after quality bar on each track.

Loud's lyrical sharpness and memorable punchlines serve as the coherent glue holding disparate beat choices together. The Ahuntsic native's poetic prowess is punctuated by the soulful backdrop of "Hold Up," and despite "#10" being a last-minute addition to the album (honouring the recent passing of Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur), the song feels right at home thanks to the album's thoughtful pacing. Even songs like "Coin à l'ombre" or the title track, which may have felt like generic spitters, are justified in making the cut on what is a near-flawless outing due to the rapper's performances.

Loud always has bars on deck, but he adapts his cadence and vocal tone to provide more variety on a record where traditional hooks are often replaced by single sentences. An obvious example is "Peinture à l'huile," Aucune promesse's most meticulously crafted song, where Loud contrasts the density of his multisyllabic wordplay with an almost-whispered delivery. The result comes off as authentic as a deep conversation with a close friend. Meanwhile, "Uber Eats Freestyle" represents a dichotomic peak, as the rapper's sponsorship with the food delivery giant is referenced in a song with noticeably bleak commercial appeal, reflecting his noted lack of concern with the record's mainstream reception.

It's when Loud goes beyond detailing his come-up and industry manoeuvring and sets his sights on tackling social issues that the record's finest moment occurs. Indeed, what Aucune promesse lacks in standout singles, it more than makes up for in depth — and nowhere is that better illustrated than on the sublime closer "Win-win." The song is crafted around the idea of holding open the door of opportunities for those to follow, and the generational interplay between veteran Imposs, Loud and newcomer Raccoon is something to behold. With unmistakably distinct styles, each MC addresses a vision of how their art clashes with what they see as a social responsibility.

Imposs speaks about TV appearances with pitiful pay to appease an audience thirsty for diversity, while Loud looks to beat the system from the inside and criticizes the demographic homogeneity of awards shows. However, the song's true dynamics come to the forefront when Raccoon raps about coming from the hood while having to listen to Loud's music behind closed doors. When you realize the degrees of adulation between the rappers and their respective influences on each other's careers, the impact of this collaboration — bridging the gap between three generations — hits different.

Loud was unfairly criticized for his sophomore album Tout ça pour ça on the road, with naysayers calling it rushed and disjointed. The rapper's incessant touring was abruptly halted by the pandemic, and he has mentioned in interviews that it forced him to take the time to truly reflect on his career and life trajectory. His patience paid off: on Aucune promesse, Loud has perfected his formula while still sure to leave fans fiending for the finesse only he can deliver.
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