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Ty Dolla $ign’s Unremarkable ‘Beach House 3’

| Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dominique DeMoe | The Observer

On Friday — breaking his month-long silence — Kendrick Lamar tweeted a link to Ty Dolla $ign’s latest album “Beach House 3.” Lamar’s only accompanying editorial was 13 fire emojis. In addition to a striking snapshot of human communication in 2017, Lamar’s tweet was also, I supposed, a ringing endorsement. The tweet piqued my interest in the Chicago artist’s new album, but King Kendrick’s declaration was not my only experience with Ty Dolla $ign’s music. His 2016 mixtape “Campaign” was a surprisingly strong record that thrives in the borderlands between hip-hop and R&B. Dolla $ign demonstrated impressive range on the tape. “??? (Where) [feat. Migos]” found Ty collaborating with 2017’s favorite rap group on a gritty, trap-inspired jam. “Stealing” was so soulful and orchestral that it would not sound out of place in a humble coffee shop.

“Beach House 3” finds Tyrone Griffin Jr. delivering fine, unique music in spots, while otherwise resorting to trite packaging to fill the album. The album opener “Famous” begins with an acoustic guitar (played by John Mayer) and Ty Dolla $ign crooning, “Everybody wants to be famous.” Ty Dolla $ign then basically proceeds to detail the trappings and obligations of fame, and the great extent to which normal people want it. The lyrical content on “Beach House 3” is certainly the album’s weakest component. The desire for fame is not only debatable, but it is also hopelessly overwrought in rap. It may seem pedantic to criticize one song’s topic. Unfortunately, the concepts of “fame” and being famous appear to be the underlying currents throughout “Beach House 3.” Interludes on the album are called “Famous Lies,” “Famous Excuses,” “Famous Friends” and “Famous Amy.” After all, Ty Dolla $ign is not that famous. Sure, he is more famous than most people will ever be, but his commentary holds far less weight than, for example, “Famous” artist Kanye West.

“Beach House 3’s” best tracks are just as hot as his previous work would suggest. “Love U Better” — featuring Lil Wayne and The-Dream — is an immensely fun party track that serves as further evidence that Lil Wayne still has the goofy charm that made him such a magnetic presence on the microphone. The following track, “Ex,” exhibits Ty perfectly complementing “Stare (feat. Pharrell Williams and Wiz Khalifa)” is not quite a great track, but it is far more interesting than lifeless tracks like “Don’t Judge Me (feat. Future and Swae Lee)” or “Dawsin’s Breek (feat. Jeremih).” “Stare” is tastefully disjointed and sounds just foreign enough to be both intriguing and catchy. “Side Effects” demonstrates just how captivating Ty Dolla $ign can be when he is by himself, and it makes me wish he put more tracks on “Beach House 3” with only his name attached. Album closer “Message in a Bottle” contained some of Ty’s signature pathos, which was largely lacking on “Beach House 3.” It is a perfect example of Ty Dolla $ign’s ability to take a familiar concept — like feeling a sense numb melancholia amidst a party — and add yet another degree of depth with his emotionally charged delivery.

“Beach House 3” does not feel particularly inventive or bold. It is a disappointing effort, especially in the wake of a project that promised as much as “Campaign.” It almost seems like there are two different albums on “Beach House 3.” One half of the project attempts to chronicle a poorly conceived narrative about fame. The other half is a massive beach party with many of hip-hop’s best collaborators invited. The latter half is definitely more fun. That is not to say that Ty Dolla $ign cannot preside over a top-notch track by himself, because he most certainly can. After all, “Side Effects” and “Message in a Bottle” are some of the best tracks on the entire album. However, the album’s best tracks are dragged down by the project’s poorly conceived concept and uninspired songs that mimic the taste of the day.

Artist: Ty Dolla $ign

Album: “Beach House 3”

Label: Atlantic Records

If you like: Post Malone, Future, Migos

Favorite Track: “Love U Better (feat. Lil Wayne and The-Dream)”

Shamrocks: 3 out of 5

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