Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 16, 2024

Ty Dolla $ign’s take on Campaign season

By NIKITA SHTARKMAN | October 13, 2016


FAYETNAM /CC-SA-4.0 The art for Ty Dolla $ign’s Campaign features several references to nationalist imagery.

Ty Dolla $ign, charismatic dread-headed king of the hook, the golden child of the west, Mr. Saves-Any-Song-With-A-Feature, dropped his ninth mixtape Campaign on Sept. 23.

This record, named both for the upcoming election and Ty’s personal pursuits, is exactly what you would expect from Ty-quality music broken up by some less-than-stellar filler.

Ty Dolla starts this album with a pitched up, detuned voice clip about the election, denouncing both candidates before reluctantly endorsing Hillary Clinton. With this introduction, you would expect Ty to include some political commentary in his songs, but he doesn’t.

His material continues to be solely women, money and more women. There’s nothing wrong with his subject matter, it just doesn’t make sense following that very loaded introduction.

The mixtape truly kicks off with “$,” what could almost be classified as an ode to himself. Though lyrically dry, this song has a great beat and a catchy melody. Ty showcases his exceptional talent for layering uninteresting lyrics over a beat in a beautiful, energetic way. Unfortunately, like Free TC, Ty’s last effort, the project starts to waver and get inconsistent after the first track.

All Ty projects have obvious hits. On Campaign, “Zaddy” is by far the standout. This should be the song of this season. It is a combination of a basic chorus, a beautiful beat built off of a choral sample, a strong trap drum break and Ty’s gritty voice coated with the sheen of auto-tune floating over the instrumentation. Listen to the chorus of this song once. That is all it takes to get addicted.

“Campaign” is the second major success. The beat is a mix of a plinking synth melody with crashing kicks and 808s. Future drops another uninspired hook that somehow works perfectly and Ty layers his classic melodic verses.

If one “Campaign” isn’t enough, the Charlie Heat remix at the end of the album is a great second serving. This version has a unique instrumental with a piano chord progression and a bouncier rhythm. Both are fun, powerhouse tracks.

“Watching” featuring Meek Mill is another standout track, stacked with all the makings of a banger. The two faced beat, which part melodic and high, part heavy and drum-centric, is well complemented by Ty’s flowery melodies.

The chorus is golden, impossible not to sing along to. Meek Mill, the Philadelphia MC who can’t seem to catch a break this year, drops a great verse, with his always-loud voice perfectly fitting the beat.

“??? (Where)” is probably the hardest song on this project. Migos, rolling with its classic flow, drops some absolutely hilarious lines. The winner is obviously Quavo’s “I am the Dab Daddy.” This is another great track in which none of the rappers are taking themselves seriously. Ty should really focus on making more tracks like this. He is his absolute best on fun, bouncy songs.

There are no completely bad songs on this project. There are just some attempts at diversity that end up either thoroughly disinteresting or just disappointing. “3 Wayz” with Travis Scott, for example, is a failed mixture of styles. Both melodic rappers/singers, they try to harmonize over a slow, lumbering beat. Although they both come up with some fairly interesting melodies, that isn’t enough to save the sluggish track. “R&B” gets fairly repetitive and uninspired after a short time, even with its strong chorus.

While Ty really thrives off a basic structure and a simple melody, “My Song” fits the template too perfectly, becoming a mind numbingly boring and uninspired track.

Even considering the missteps, I still think that this project is better than Free TC. Ty is a consistent hit maker, who makes inconsistent albums. Whenever he tries to switch up his style, there is a feeling of hesitation and uncertainty. This is unfortunate since Ty has proven that he has range, creating some phenomenal acoustic jams (see “Horses in the Stable”), along with heavy street songs like “Blasé.”

In future projects, I hope he either keys into his incredible hook-making ability, developing a full 10-15 tracklist of fun, melodic songs, or throws off the formula that is starting to get stale at this point and starts to experiment wildly. A project like Jeremih’s and Shlomo collaboration EP No More, which created space in which each artist reach towards something new, would really benefit Ty Dolla $ign.

The venture into unexpected sounds could bring something fresh out of that iconic voice.

Nonetheless, I recommend people listen to the whole of Campaign. Ty’s music has crossover appeal and universality that is unrivaled in the current music scene. It is a fun listen overall, and I’m confident it has at least one song for every listener.

Have a tip or story idea?
Let us know!

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.

Alumni Weekend 2024
Leisure Interactive Food Map
The News-Letter Print Locations
News-Letter Special Editions