—by Kemet High

It’s been almost a decade since Ty Dolla $ign started his full stride. Do y’all remember that “Toot It And Boot It” record by YG? It was raw, hilarious yet aggressive, and contained a chorus that was melodically perfect yet simple, like hip-hop gospel. Years before “Paranoid” and “Or Nah,” he already had a hit on his hands. The following years were spent marinating. He wasted no time when it came to proving what kind of artist he could be. The West Coast has always been an essential factor within rap, but what works for Ty is the fact that he’s been able to expand the sound of hip-hop without losing the skill and craft that makes it so significant. It doesn’t matter what kind of song, who was on it, or what kind of beat, his additions were homicidal.

In the year 2018, hip-hop has been centered with holeless flows, accompanied by brash ad libs. Those distinct yet common vocals are accompanied by snare drums, trap bass, and synthesized chord progressions; that’s essentially a hit recipe when you narrow it down. Music that extends past those parameters tends to go underappreciated. So the ability to successfully cross genres is a dangerous concept, and yet Ty has been executing it for years.

Back in 2013, after signing to Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang, Ty Dolla $ign dropped the sequel to his Beach House series. You probably remember seeing the tape do numbers on Datpiff—back when silver, gold, and platinum plaques verified a mixtape. Well, after you decided to listen, I’m sure it didn’t take long before you realized what was roping in your interest to the tape. With production from DJ Mustard, the D.R.U.G.S. production collective, and Ty himself, the project was able to cross house, EDM, and hip-hop genres, present in songs like “These Hoes,” “I Bet,” and “My Cabana.” Beach House 2 would be the obvious beginning to multi-genre projects that listeners wouldn’t have navigated unless it was done finely. Whether Ty created the beats himself, or was simply ripping someone else’s, acoustic or trap, the productional experience was paranormal to hip-hop if he put his hand in it.

Now let’s talk about those vocals; they say that he could sing a restaurant menu and it would sound good. His stark, raspy voice sounds like all three sections of the choir, and layering his vocals results in an angelic effect. Ty’s ability to artfully demand his presence has lead him to some of the hottest songs of the year, such as “Boss” (on JAY-Z & Beyonce’s Everything Is Love) and “Wouldn’t Leave” (on Kanye West’s Ye). After having an MVP-type month, and additional features and production credits on Drake’s Scorpion, Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E., and ‘Ye & Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts, there is no box placed on who Ty has and can successfully work with.

What works is that we love a good melodic rapper. Competing in a game where melodic rap has lead to that of Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, & PARTYNEXTDOOR, Ty is a little different; nobody can switch flows like he can. His newly released verse on Drake’s “After Dark” is an accurate ode to his flexibility. His songs are filled with more than a few sound flavors and flows that make it feel like you’re hearing all elements of your favorite artists in one. Ty makes music that sounds like R&B in the early 2000s and mumble rap in 2018, faultlessly mixed into one verse. Being so versatile allowed him to cook up hits with any artist we would deem rotation-worthy.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, Ty dropped his debut album Free TC which, like his mixtapes, contained a feature on almost every song. The first thing people tend to think when they see this is that the lead artist cannot hold their own. Well, he has tracks like “Credit” featuring Sevyn Streeter, and “Pineapple” assisted by Gucci Mane and Quavo that hit so hard they’ll probably slap those words right out of your mouth. His ability to draw upon and seamlessly utilize other artists has turned him into one of the best artists we’ve seen since Kanye West to A&R combinations. To put multiple artists on one track and have them all go off has become more of a rarity in music than a commonality. The problem usually occurs when someone’s sound doesn’t fit as well as the others, but Ty is the bridge that brings out the unflawed version of any artist in any genre. His ability to enhance has successfully earned him multiple positions and rotations on both charts and radio stations with songs like Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home,” Post Malone’s “Psycho,” and his own “Love U Better” featuring Lil Wayne and The-Dream.

Whenever Ty Dolla $ign is collaborating on a song, it constantly feels like a sample and tease as to what real magic could come if we had more songs from the combination. By now there are a few names we’ve come to expect an appearance from when Ty drops a project; one of those being Chicago’s own Jeremih. Both men have a history of creating baby-making and cyph-worth music. If their collaborative album MihTy sounds anything like “Impatient,” “Paris (Who Taught You That),” or “Dawsin’s Breek,” this could be one of the greatest executed R&B/hip-hop collaborations we’ve seen since Twenty88.

Assistance or no assistance, it’s clear that Ty Dolla $ign won’t be escaping your headphones anytime soon. His unlimited ability to produce and provide religious vocals has proved none other than well-deserved acknowledgement across the board. Ignore the cosigns if you must, but it’s only a matter of time before he drops a hit with your favorite artist, if he hasn’t already. They don’t make them with this many weapons anymore. Is it too early in the year to give awards? Because this man Ty has clearly been shooting for gold.

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