Ty Dolla $ign has found his niche in today’s music climate -- creating catchy-melodic R&B tunes under the influence of trap and West Coast bounce. His 2013 hit “Paranoid” was a force on the radio and has led to countless features on club-bangers.
With his newfound credibility and reputation, the only question for Tyrone Griffin, Jr. is: Can this formula translate into a successful major label album?
Atlantic Records seemed to have their fair share of doubt as they hit Ty’s debut, Free TC, with several push backs. “Stand For,” the album’s lead single, was released last November but failed to resonate with radio and was scrapped from the album’s final tracklist all-together. With the song’s bold tone and uplifting message, it appeared that Free TC, which is dedicated to Ty$ younger brother who is serving a life sentence for murder, was going to be different than any of his previous work. But what we did receive was a solid, feature-heavy album (every song but two had a guest appearance) that shows resemblance to the breakout mixtape, Beach Hou$e.
Sonically, TC ventures away from the West Coast influences found on Beach Hou$e -- thanks to a slew of different producers like Hit-Boy and Metro Boomin -- however, Ty Dolla $ign’s style does not change.
He’s never been one to make melancholic ballads; rather he gives brash and explicit insight on his escapades with women.
He proclaims on “Straight Up", a smooth, elegant track backed by a Jagged Edge sample, that he is immune to catching feelings. Subsequently, he compares his women to horses declaring that he has plenty in his stable that he can “ride” on in “Horses In The Stable.” But on “Credit” he shows his frustration with a girl who constantly brings up his sleazy past.
“Miracle/Whenever” is the album’s standout cut. The first half features the album’s namesake, Big TC, who gives a testimonial verse: “It’s a miracle I’m still standing.” Phone conversations with TC are intertwined throughout the album, giving it an endearing and personal feel.
In complete contrast to the gospel-stylings of “Miracle”, “Whenever” finds Ty putting no limitations to where he has sex in full falsetto.
The second half of the album is where you can find most of the album’s missteps.
“Guard Down” has a preachy tone similar to “Stand For,” but the Hit-Boy produced instrumental is one big ball of confusion. “Bring It Out Of Me” is Ty’s experiment with the club-friendly house sound that did not blend well with his voice. Aside from “Blasé” and maybe “Saved,” surprisingly there aren’t any songs that are geared toward the club, which is the home for Ty’s best work.
There truly are two sides to modern R&B. You can find passionate songs illustrating love and affection in an artist like Miquel, or you can hear a raunchy and lustful record from Chris Brown.
Free TC does not straddle the fence on either side of the spectrum, it’s definitely a solid album that is fun but is far from traditional R&B standards.