Ty Dolla $ign has a reputation: he’s the ace writer and producer (credits include a co-write on Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney’s ‘FourFiveSeconds’) whose own output – crisp hip-hop with a pop gloss – is fantastically filthy in its preoccupation with sex and promiscuity. The ‘Beach House’ franchise started with a well-received 2012 mixtape and the 32-year-old reckons that this second sequel (there was also 2014’s standalone spin-off ‘Beach House EP’) is more mature and, naturally, “way better” than its predecessors.
The album opens with a curveball. ‘Famou$’ is built around lilting acoustic guitar, over which the singer laments those who seek overnight success but “ain’t worried ’bout who they steppin’ on”, showcasing honeyed tones and a falsetto that would see him fast-tracked to judges’ houses on The X Factor if he were more inclined to short-cuts. The careerist theme continues on ‘Lil Favorite’, a more conventional Ty track on which our randy hero vows to give his prolific romancing a rest and “focus on my life”.
Most of the album’s 20 tracks (many of which exploit the $ symbol with admirable gusto) stick to a formula – languid yet pounding bass, trap beats and woozy autotuned vocals – and his commitment to this sound can render ‘Beach House 3’ a little exhausting. The result is that even Future’s compelling appearance on the hooky ‘Don’t Judge Me’ loses impact and, despite the presence of heavyweight guest vocalists Pharrell Williams and Wiz Khalifa, ‘$tare’ sounds like business as usual.
Ty Dolla $ign’s potential is clear on the occasional track, such as ‘$o Am I’, a reggae-influenced bop produced by Skrillex (sadly not credited as $krillex) and with Damian Marley on vocal duties. Elsewhere, the impressive ‘Me$$age In A Bottle’ is a melancholic waltz through booze-fuelled regret. Lyrically, ‘Beach House 3’ is a step away from the musician’s satin-sheeted comfort zone, but we may have to wait for ‘Beach House 4’ to see him truly come of age.