You know that guy in your church that leads praise and worship who can only sorta sing but makes up for it with their passion? Well his album dropped but he replaced the gospel with self-aggrandizing misogynistic lyrics and now goes by the name Ty Dolla $ign. The good news is, the album’s pretty good and full of jams. Minister Dolla Sign picks up where his debut album, FreeTC, left off and is the current standard of a sound the internet has dubbed as ‘ratchet R&B’. The bad news is, you probably can’t play this for the congregation on Sunday.
The 16 song project features top-notch hip-hop production layered over Ty’s raspy auto-tuned voice. While there’s a whole slew of artist toting the line between rap and R&B, this project leans closer to RnB although Kirk “Dolla Sign” Franklin will occasionally drop a few bars to mix it up. Most of the album uses heavier production but occasionally he’ll strip away all of the synths and bass for a clean acoustic sound as he does on ‘Stealing’.
Because everything Future Hendrix touches is fire, ‘Campaign’ is easily the best song on the album of the same name. The song’s so good, it’s actually on the album twice (although we’re not actually sure what this song has to do with a campaign of any nature…). After ‘Campaign’, ‘Zaddy’ is the sleeper pick for the second best song which describes the socially acceptable version of pimping known as the “sugar daddy”. The song’s smooth as hell and transitions nicely into ‘Hello’, another favorite. As great as these songs were, the album probably could’ve used another banger along with it’s lead single. While the production on ‘Watchin’ coupled with a solid Meek feature had the most potential to be that song, it doesn’t quite give us the ‘Blaze’ effect we were hoping for.
The most memorable part of the album was when Ty’s younger brother, Big TC made a guest appears to help big bro deliver a very real message about police brutality on ‘No Justice’. What makes this feature so special is that Big TC is serving life behind bars and sung his verse through a jail phone receiver (hence the poor audio quality). This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this, as Big TC blessed us with similar behind-bars bars in the song ‘Miracle’ off Ty’s last album dedicated to him. With similar gospel inspired vocals, TC opens the song describing the incidents surrounding his racial profiling and eventual arrest before breaking into a chorus that touches on gang violence and police brutality. An extremely poignant message in the context of our society today where mass murder in cities like Chicago are the norm and there is a new viral police brutality video every month.
Having said that, it’s hard to send a message of black liberation when the rest of the album’s runtime is spent objectifying women. The same goes for all the “F*ck Donald Trump” interludes (which I’m guessing has to do with the album name?) mixed into the album. We get it, he’s a singer/rapper and don’t exactly expect him to have a Ph.D in sociology but on a project where ‘Bitch’ is almost exclusively used to describe women, the social messages will likely get lost in the misogyny. This is actually a criticism that extends to the majority of conscious rap. From Kendrick to J. Cole, our rappers haven’t yet figured out how to be ‘woke’ without the toxic masculinity seeping through their lyrics.
Overall, is a solid follow up to his debut album but solid is the best I would give it. The main criticism I have for Ty with this album is the same I have for most artists who stay in their lanes. How is this new project any different from what’s already out and pushing the art forward? When ratchet R&B really started to become a thing, we were blown away by singers basically singing rap lyrics over hard trap beats but by now, we’re harder to impress. I’d love to see Ty continue to expand on that acoustic sound or make a fully political album but it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to take that risk, which is fine for now, but eventually, everyone needs to evolve.
On a scale from 1-Beach House EP this gets a 6.7
“You know, there can never be no justice when killing us is legal”
“I take that molly with molly”