After years of quietly earning stripes as the most wanted hook-man for up-and-coming L.A. rappers such as Pac Div, Ty Dolla Sign ushered in the age of ratchet with “Toot It and Boot It,” a song from Def Jam upstart YG. Formerly of the group Ty & Kory, Ty Dolla Sign produced and sang on the raunchy anthem to one-night stands and instantly put himself on the radar of major labels while putting a spotlight on his crew Pushaz Ink.
Last year, Ty finally inked a major deal with Atlantic Records, which, enamored with his songwriting and producing talents, put him to work in the studio with R&B superstar Trey Songz. On his own, Ty released the well-received Beach House mixtape, featuring production almost exclusively from his in-house production team D.R.U.G.S. (in addition to Ty himself, the team is comprised of producer Chordz, Nate3D, Buddah Shampoo, James Koo, Cardo, DJ Mustard, Fuego and DJ Dahi). The hazy soundscapes are the result of marijuana and “lean”-fueled sessions, yet they are not sloppy. Ty may be in a ratchet mind state but with songs such as “My Cabana” he shows vocal abilities that hint that he is a student of R&B greats. That’s exactly what we get on his new DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz Beach House 2 mixtape.
As “My Cabana” anchored the first installment, a Young Jeezy-featuring remix of “My Cabana” shows up on the 13-track sequel (there are technically more than 13 since some tracks features two separate songs). The recipe’s unchanged: it’s still D.R.U.G.S. production on most of the tracks, and Ty’s favorite topics are his sexual prowess and the club-loving ladies (a.k.a. “hoes” or “ratchets” to the uninitiated). In fact, Ty starts out Beach House 2 lamenting “These Hoes” with a guest 16 from Atlantic Records newcomer Kevin Gates. He segues smoothly into the proven ratchet recipe over the DJ Mustard-produced “Paranoid,” while L.A. rapper Joe Moses adds some of the most raunchiest raps heard since 2 Live Crew. Indeed, raunchiness is Ty’s trademark, and it knows no boundaries. On the Wiz Khalifa-featured stripper anthem “I Bet,” produced by Ty, he croons, “I bet you can’t do it with a d*ck in it.” However crass the lyrics, Ty sounds soulful while Wiz that comes across as robotic and awkward.
Ty has mastered courting ratchets and being musical all at once. The seductive “1st Night” would likely make Devante Swing proud, as would “4 A Young” (Remix) featuring Trey Songz and Kirko Bangz, a continuation of the ratchet-and-blues lane and the oft-tweeted line, “got another n**ga b*tch in my bed right now.” Beach House 2 is not without a few blemishes, however. There is a finite number of anti-ratchet songs (like “B*tches Ain’t Sh*t” featuring Jay 305 and Chevy Woods), but they still get tiresome. Meanwhile, “Get It How I Live” featuring XXYYXX and Peter Lee Johnson is easy to overlook with stand-outs such as “Ratchet In My Benz” featuring Juicy J and produced by Buddah Shampoo for D.R.U.G.S. The mixtape’s crescendo is “Got My Heart” featuring Chris Brown and Game.
Ty Dolla Sign is an atypical R&B artist. Not only did he almost single-handedly invent the ratchet sub-genre, meshing ratchet-courting singing with traditional R&B music, but he has managed to add soul and musicianship. There is no singer that could harmonize a line such as “you found that rubber in the trashcan,” but Ty not only pulls it off (no pun intended) but is likely going to have entire clubs of young ladies singing along. Beach House 2 should hold fans over until a formal Atlantic debut.