*** (of 4)
Most would agree that one characteristic of great musicians is the ability to identify with the problems of the average listener. Two questions, though: What if your biggest problem is that you're just too fresh? What if you have an abundance of women at your disposal, and you're just not sure how many of them would fit into a beach cabana?
If these are your everyday worries, rising rap star Ty Dolla $ign feels your pain. In recent years Ty (real name: Tyrone Griffin) has slowly infiltrated earlobes alongside a wave of collaborative, potentially new-to-you California artists/producers like Iamsu!, YG, Kid Ink, TeeFlii, Casey Veggies, Dom Kennedy, the HBK Gang and DJ Mustard. Ty has appeared on chart hits like YG's "Toot It and Boot It" and earned a sleeper hit of his own in 2012 with "My Cabana," whose remix featured Young Jeezy and led to a record deal with Atlantic and Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang Records.
Ty's stuff is fun and a perfect example of the "sensitive thug" sub-genre of R&B. He croons about women a LOT. More specifically, he explores love, loss, avoiding vulnerability and the paranoia that comes with dating multiple women. Most songs on the recent "Beach House EP" navigate the line between outright singing and a more relaxed conversational tone. This is what R. Kelly would sound like if he were born in the '80s. This is what Chris Brown would sound like if he weren't trying to be Michael Jackson. It's smooth but blunt.
Lyrics like, "I hate chicks wearing fake nails, some chicks think I can't tell, she got butt pads on, that's a fail," let you know that Ty Dolla $ign is a bona fide scholar of Nate Dogg's "I'm going to say a bunch of grimy stuff, but listen to how smooth I sing it!" Vocational Academy. Features include Travi$ Scott, Wiz Khalifa, the aforementioned Veggies and Mustard--that reminds me, I need to get lunch--and a surprising number of Chicago artists (Twista on "Work" and the Young Chop-produced, Fredo Santana-featured "Familiar").
Unfortunately, while the songs make enjoyable party music, "Beach House EP" doesn't have enough new material that will invoke multiple plays, a common problem with "official" releases containing songs that have been included previously on free mixtapes. It's also completely lazy to add two versions of "Paranoid"--the "regular version" featuring B.O.B. is a remix, and its pairing with the "remix" featuring Trey Songz and French Montana constitutes the rare "three-mix," a term I just created.
Repetitive concepts aside, "Beach House EP" is a promising look into Ty's full-length, which will arrive later this year.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.