When Ty Dolla $ign first dropped “Paranoid,” he was immediately welcomed with open arms by many hip hop junkies. I wasn’t one of them. The green eyed, Cali native didn’t sing enough for me. He didn’t really rap either. And though he wasn’t wack, I wasn’t really feeling the generic, “ I get bitches” content of his songs. Love is tricky though. Sometimes you notice it instantaneously. Sometimes it sneaks up on you and you’re left amazed. Somehow Ty Dolla Sign got to me. And it is now becoming clear why.
My love for hip-hop doesn’t stretch far past what gets played on the radio so I wasn’t open to listening to Ty’s feature singles “Irie” and “Or Nah.” The only real track that I bumped consistently was IamSu’s “Float,” where Ty appears as a feature. Ty closes the dope underground track with a memorable verse; witty, catchy, true fire technique. I didn’t realize how much his verse impacted the song until I listened to his first studio album Free TC.
It doesn’t feel like his first album because he’s one of those artist who puts out a lot of mixtapes. It was 2011 when Ty dropped his first mixtape House on the Hill. Several mixtapes, and EP’s later, I’ve realized that Ty Dolla has his own alluring sound. It’s a mixture of hip hop and light R& B. I wouldn’t have caught that if it wasn’t for Free TC.
I heard someone playing “Miracle” and immediately fell in love with the smooth piano-driven track, cool flow, and fire rap verse. But I couldn’t ignore the muffled, and distorted parts of the song. When I heard that it was recorded in a jail cell, I had to look into it.
The album interestingly is dedicated to his brother TC who according to Ty is in jail for “something he didn’t do.”He explained in an IHeartRadio Interview that the album wasn’t only going to “give the people great music.” According to the Cali native, the project would also raise awareness on “racial, social injustice in our country, and mass incarceration in our country.” That fire rap verse on “Miracle” is Ty’s little brother TC. And Ty plans to take proceeds from the album and put it back into funding TC’s case. It was so heart felt that I had to listen to the rest of the album. Before I knew it I was giving all of his music a chance.
There is a sense of vulnerability in Ty Dolla Signs’ tracks. While his music insinuates that he’s a womanizer, he also displays a dope realism; a “bro to bro” type of honesty that’s kind of cool, and an ability to tell a story like the Trey Songz-assisted “Know Ya.” I love songs that question scenarios and narrates stories. What do you do when you realize you’ve slept with an obsessive female? Write a song about it maybe?
Did I forget to mention that he creates his own music? He both writes and produces his track with an obvious ear for R&B. The tracks on Free T, feature artist like Jagged Edge, R. Kelly, and Baby Face. Baby Face!! If you know R&B you know why I was hyped to hear this feature. Ty clearly appreciates some rhythm and blues. He puts an ounce of soul on a modern hip hop tracks.
Ty Dolla $ign most certainly did a number on me. He isn’t rap. He isn’t soul. But, he’s something dope and if you’re on the fence give his music another listen.