Ty Dollar Sign with Taylor Gang performing at the Fader Fort, Friday March 14th 2014
There’s a moment in Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid,” a hit from last year, that made Ty an artist to watch. The track starts with the hook, a tense tale of two-timing and debauchery. But rarely has a crass story been delivered with so much care: Halfway through each line, a separate strand of vocals spirals off, curling up and melting away. The voice stands out immediately — swathed honey-thick at a time when most R&B singers traffic in light and airy — but Ty also arranges breathtaking harmonies, which are increasingly hard to find in today’s pop.
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Since “Paranoid,” this singer has continued to release his own music and sing hooks for others, but he hasn’t found another hit. On Tuesday (March 31), he put out Talk About It in the Morning, a new collaborative EP with Wiz Khalifa — who served as a partner previously on “Or Nah,” the only other Dolla $ign track to crack the top 50 on the Hot 100. Khalifa can’t match Ty’s stylistic range, but everyone benefits from a solid partner, and this rapper is nothing if not solid: His albums consistently perform well, and his most recent full-length, Blacc Hollywood, topped the Billboard 200.
On Talk About It in the Morning, Ty mainly sticks to his old ways. Take the first track, “Judge It.” Wiz raps methodically about relationship troubles — throughout the tape, he works his way systematically to the end of each line, rarely changing or adjusting his flow. Then Ty shows up to deliver a typical verse: “Let’s just f— all night, talk about it in the morning.” “Post Up” works over the same ground as “Paranoid” (or “Stand For,” a recent collaboration between Ty, DJ Dahi and Diplo).
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But there are surprises here: “Refresh” is unexpectedly melodic, and “Say No More,” the tape’s final song, borrows from minimal Atlanta producers like FKI — the beat is little more than a couple of synth blobs. Khalifa’s voice seems to gain texture and character next to the barely there instrumental. Ty may be exploring familiar territory, but Khalifa’s willing to try a new direction.