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Ty Dolla Sign – Sign Language | Album Review

Here’s our verdict on the new mixtape from Ty Dolla Sign ‘Sign Language’

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While you were sleeping Ty Dolla Sign carved out a pretty solid niche for himself in the increasingly popular RnB/Hip-Hop genre.  ‘My Cabana‘ was cute. ‘Irie‘ was cool. But Ty really popped up on the radar thanks to ‘Paranoid‘ and ‘Or Nah‘. Steady touring and increasingly stronger mixtapes have put Ty’s name on the map.

After two mix tapes and an EP, the ‘Beach House‘ series concluded. Enough hasn’t been said of the heights the ‘Beach House‘ series reached. ‘Beach House‘ was a nice, breezy tape perfectly suited to the summer. ‘Beach House 2‘ stepped up the production and songwriting. Resulting in catchier songs and the first real appearance of Ty’s now trademark hip-hop arrogance. Then ‘Beach House EP‘. Opening with another Nate Howard featured poem over lush strings, ‘Work‘ grows from a cheeky (now I’m hot they all on me) track into something deeper. Featuring a verse from Twista that is easily his best in years. Ty manages to create a high-low sound. Where the music plays in stark contrast to the at times comedically crude subject matter. So all those elements combine to create Ty’s new mixtape ‘Sign Language‘.

A  ‘shoo wop’ sounding track opens the tape with ‘Intro/NDK‘. Sonically a break from the norm, Ty grounds the change of scenery by bragging about how he stands out from other men. It’s a slow but catchy intro to the tape, but that all changes pretty quickly on ‘Dead Presidents‘. This is different from his previous tracks aimed at the DJ. Previously he would always try and retain a sing-song vibe, whereas here the chorus isn’t even a rap as much as command. It’s beyond catchy. Combined with the pounding bass line, it’s flawless. And Juicy J’s verse slides in so perfectly it feels like fate. Crafting these songs feels effortless. You envision Ty walking into the studio with no concept, humming something, walking in the booth and finishing it in one take. None of these songs feel relentlessly workshopped and the tape shows a massive growth and confidence in songwriting from his previous releases.

The juxtaposition of borderline porno raps and sweet soulful RnB comes to a head on ‘Stretch/She Better‘. Without delving too deep into the subject matter, we’ll just say it’s hilariously explicit, but delivered in such a way that it could easily be a ballad. Allow the lyrics to fade into the background, and you have a touching moment….sort of. Ty also manages to get the most out of his features. Rick Ross actually manages to drop a pretty entertaining verse, which in 2014 is an astonishing feat. Ed Sheernan even pops up on an interlude and impresses with his crooning, where he discusses his love making prowess and it sounds perfect natural.

Typical of the former, Ty always closes his album on a thoughtful track with ‘In Too Deep‘. After 40 mins of degrading women, the tape ends on a track about the dangers of becoming involved in gang culture. By this point it’s a tradition to end the set this way, this makes the rampant misogyny more palatable by showing a real person behind the content.

Sign Language‘ shows that Ty’s previous efforts were no fluke. He perfectly blends the smooth side of RnB whilst never becoming too soppy and bringing enough braggadocios content to keep hip-hop heads happy. 2015 will no doubt see him dominate with his unique sound. The tape is available for download here.


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