Def Jam Recordings
Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih
Though Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih have made more of a name for themselves as supporting characters, their style is memorable nonetheless. For their first collaborative effort together, these featured artists start carving out a new voice together before falling into hip hop we know all too well. If they can explore this early harmony in their styles with more focus in the future, they might have a record that works in its entirety.
There’s a nice departure from both Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih’s previous work on the groovy energy on “The Light” as they flow on a smooth and melodically bright track. As great as this bass work is, both artist’s lackluster lyricism feels doubly crass and more barebones than anything else. While their beats don’t offer anything new on “Going Thru Some Thangz” there’s a creepy energy to the production that makes it oddly intriguing throughout. Here at least the vocal back and forth keeps the song varied and constantly growing in different ways to stay interesting. With a strong drive on “FYT” they let French Montana bring a little more life and funk to the mix, for a track that slinks around with fun. By tapping into the bass and a more loose direction, they make music that is excitingly rhythmic and easy to listen to.
The story of “Perfect Timing” is trapped in their similarly generic love-song tropes, and callouts to Snapchat won’t help it age well. Unfortunately by the end, it just feels like a song we heard a decade ago on pop radio. While “New Level” hits a similar issue, there’s a modern darkness to the mix and a strong sense of harmony to make it work. Here they attempt a much stronger production merge of their two styles into something that feels like it’s constantly battling against its melodic and beat-driven tendencies. Vocals aside, the production utterly ruins “Take Your Time” as it feels so separated from what’s behind it.
After a much more distinct start, the production stagnates again on tracks like “These Days” and given Hitmaka’s cross-album production credits, one has to wonder why his name is only showing up on some of these middle offerings. Barely any of the record’s initial voice comes through on “Surrounded” as they tap into just about every modern cliché in the genre, and lack unique hooks to compensate. Though it feels redundant to bring up in a musical take of the record, it feels more baffling than ever to bring out Chris Brown on a track and only serves to make people question Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih’s stances on his actions. Where these tracks stumble, something like “Lie 2 Me” brings out a strong and strange riff on what sounds like a kids piano, which gives their rather vulgar stories a little more wholesome energy.
Admittedly “Ride It” has a great hook and groove, that for all its blunt euphemisms is actually fun to listen to. Here in their child-like productions, they make a song that is oddly hypnotizing and only pulls you out by how in-your-face their sexual language is. Right after this great marriage of Jeremih’s more grooving style to Ty Dolla’s rapping, “Imitate” slows right back into a sparse cloud of sound. Though it’s cool to hear Dolla bringing a different approach to his music, there’s nothing going on for this track that we haven’t heard a hundred times on the radio over the past decade.
Words by Owen Maxwell