Ty Dolla $ign has been one of raps most desirable feature artists for about a decade at this point. For any rapper you can name, they most likely have a song with this guy, as he already has one of the highest feature counts in all of hip hop (next to Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg). While being so prevalent on others’ work, the 38-year-old rapper has never really blown anyone away with his own material. Being aware of this narrative, his new album is titled Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and after months of anticipation, it’s finally here. With guest appearances from Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Young Thug, Future, and many more, can music’s favorite collaborator make a classic of his own?
With a whopping 25 songs, fans were already waving red flags, but to everyone’s delight, there’s not much filler. Even though certain moments mesh together, having an average song length of about two and a half minutes keeps listeners in constant anticipation of whats coming next. Adding to this, the seamless transition between songs makes everything feel even more inner connected. Within the hour running time, Ty and his superstar guests offer so much versatility, which is both rewarding and frustrating. Whether its glamor of “Temptations” with Kid Cudi or the subtle masculinity of Future and Young Thug’s “Lift Me Up”, Dolla $ign’s multifacetedness is honed and disturbed to show what has kept him relevant over the years. Matching the top tier moments, generic pop ballads like “Freak” with Quavo and “Spicy” with Post Malone are just not good, to put it bluntly. Fortunately, solid guest appearances from Big Sean, Gunna, Jhené Aiko, and countless others hold the project together when things get messy. From Lil Durk on “Double R” to Roddy Rich on “Real Life”, some artists turn their short verses into a moment of their own, making it feel like Ty is losing control of his own vision. One of the LP’s definite strengths is Ty Dolla $ign’s evident ability to make rarely seen standalone tracks. The braggadocios “Status”, tormented “serpentwithfeet Interlude”, and the hopeful “Time Will Tell”, all forefront Ty’s ability as a solo artist. In its glory, the Kanye West, Anderson .Paak, and Thundercat mega collaboration titled “Track 6” stands out as not just the records best song, but possibly the best cut Ty has ever released under his name as the quartet creates a beautiful anthem about the regrets and tortures of being a man in our day and age. As a whole, Ty Dolla $ign’s collaborating ability is great as usual, and with an improved artistic focus and topical range, he’s able to deliver his most intriguing performance since 2015s Free TC.
Behind the boards, the production on Featuring Ty Dolla $ign is the ultimate compilation of mainstream hip hop sounds. Whether its the deceiving trap beats of the Mustard-produced “Real Life” and “By Yourself” or the psychedelic “Temptations”, there’s something here for all fans. Just as the poor choice of vocal execution fails, the accompanying instrumentals of cuts like “Freak” make the whole experience feel like something more disposable. A fantastic touch worth noting is the interludes, “Intro”, “Burna Boy” and,”Return” as they build upon the world Ty’s creating with their emotional phone voicemails revolving around people and messages prevalent in Ty’s life. The two Kanye West credited songs, “Ego Death” and “Track 6”, are definitely the pinnacle of production as one feels like an upgraded version of The Life of Pablo’s “Fade” and the ladder utilizes a raw organic score similar to something Anderson .Paak would record over. With a pretty safe soundtrack, there’s not much to analyze but theres something satisfying knowing that the productions core of proficient mainstream hip hop lets it thrive.
In conclusion, Featuring Ty Dolla $ign is one of the most ambient commercial rap records all year. Ty and his collaborators work together to form this free-flowing barrage of hits, and icing the cake, Dolla $ign steps into his own as a solo artist. While some of the tracks could have been left out, it hardly negates the experience. Going forward, I don’t know what Ty Dolla $ign plans to do next, but his legacy has strengthened with this near the top of his discography.
- Quality Bangers
- Ty shows off the ability to create strong songs on his own
- Features are amazing
- Songs transition seamlessly
- Good Skits
- Themes are stale
- Some cuts are too generic
- Slightly bloated
Written By: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator, owner and founder of Fantastic Hip Hop