Ty Dolla $ign is an established name in the hip-hop industry, and with the release of his ninth mixtape, Campaign, Ty Dolla $ign is sure to reap further success. Released on September 23 via Taylor Gang Records and Atlantic Records, the 16-track album features guest vocals from Future, Meek Mill, Trey Songz, Wiz Khalifa, Travis Scott and Migos, and production from the likes of D.R.U.G.S and D’Mile.
Real name Tyrone William Griffin Jr., Ty Dolla $ign first gained major recognition for his feature on YG’s “Toot It and Boot It”, which was written and produced by him for Def Jam Recordings. He then signed a record deal with Wiz Khaflia’s label Taylor Gang Records and has aince produced many well known tracks that have achieved chart success, such as “Paranoid”, “Or Nah” and “Blasé”.
Ty Dolla $ing has also contributed his writing abilities to Chris Brown’s “Loyal” and Kanye West’s “FourFiveSeconds”. Most recently, he won the 2016 Teen Choice Award and the MTV Video Music Award for his collaboration with Fifth Harmony on “Work From Home”.
Campaign certainly has a fresh sound, and displays the risks and creative choices that Ty Dolla $ign chose to make when creating his latest mixtape. What is seen increasingly with rap albums is that an introduction track starts it off to set the scene and flavour of the music.
Ty Dolla $ign includes this in his work, with a twisted monologue cutting through the sounds of a background crowd and shouting children in “Intro”. The vocals are warped, as if they are underwear, and break through into clarity with Ty Dolla Sign encouraging people to get out there and push through to make good decisions, a campaign for a better world.
“$” is a track seemingly about Ty Dolla $ign as he is expressing what is said about his musical abilities and behaviour, “Dolla you know you’re the shit”. There is no misunderstanding with the listener that this is his music, he is letting the world know that he is confident in himself and what really counts is what he thinks of himself.
This self-belief is why Dolla is successful and a strong influence in the rap scene, as he is referring to himself in the third person, as if it is a hype track for the rest of the album. It is continuously upbeat and does not stray in topic, so the focus is set on Dolla himself.
Future has a signature sound, and it is easy to recognise him on a track. He introduces the title track “Campaign”, which creates a familiar sound with hip-hop fans and catches the attention of the listener with the deep bass beat and the fast-paced rapping.
There are backing vocals that sound like cheerleaders shouting ‘hey’ which sets the tempo and beats and makes this track perfect to dance to, so it is sure to be heard in clubs. The familiarity of the sound means that it is likely to be enjoyed by audiences, as it parallels other successful Future and rap tracks and will ensure the same reaction when it is played.
“3 Wayz” is slower and is set by a heavy bass track and layering of different sounds, such as high pitched electronic xylophone sounds and a distorted rattle setting the pace. Travis Scott is featured on this song and you can clearly hear his influence, with the auto tuned voice signature, to Scott’s own music and exciting choices made within the track, with the ending wah-wah sound polishing it off nicely, as if it has reached a happy ending.
“Clean” has a simple sound, with a stripped beat that allows the listener to focus on the lyrics rather than being distracted by eclectic sounds. The track is about a possible love interest of Dolla’s, which perhaps does not see him as being enough for her, in terms of the hard core image that is expected of a rapper, “I’m too clean”, and that people should take time to show their feelings and slow down.
“Juice” sounds like it is revisiting 90’s hip-hop with a positive vibe and a simple drum beat to lay underneath a keyboard riff and backing vocals that give the appearance of a boy band harmonising. The track shows the realisation of Dolla that the girl he is interested in is only after one thing, “she only calls when she wants the juice.” The listener can interpret that as they wish.
Ty Dolla $ign is not afraid to employ the music abilities of other hip-hop artists, and continues to do so with “Watching”, featuring guest vocals from Meek Mill. It has a very electronic feel to it, with the use of the keyboard supporting the typical beat of a rap track.
It slows down and picks up throughout to create fresh angles and tones throughout the track and includes the sound of a woman moaning to break the verse into the chorus. “She walking different ‘cause I’m watching” expresses the change in behaviour of a woman who has caught the rapper’s attention, and the track mirrors that by the changes in pace and effects on the vocals.
The topics of the tracks on this record are the same as multiple other rap artists, however Ty Dolla $ign can work the music to create a unique sound that sets him aside from the competition. Campaign is out now via Taylor Gang and Atlantic Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Libby Beacham