Review: On 'Beach House 3,' Ty Dolla $ign Cements His Spot On Prime R&B Real Estate
Ty Dolla's new project makes its firm mark in R&B.
Ty Dolla $ign wants to welcome you, yet again, inside his musical beach house, where he dips away from the day-to-day entrapments of the rich and famous to get a little bit vulnerable and share a slice with curious listeners.
On your way inside Beach House 3 (via Atlantic Records), you’ll hear his side of the story on the pitfalls of fame, the highs of being in love, and how he satisfies his voracious sexual appetite. In fact, fame is such a consistent theme throughout the 20-track catalogue that it comes in a series of brief cuts placed as interludes (“Famous Lies,” “Famous Excuses,” “Famous Friends,” “Famous Amy” and “Famous Last Words”). On the project’s opener named (you guessed it) “Famous,” Ty questions the world’s dangerous obsession with popularity. Beneath beautiful acoustic strings, his syrupy voice drawls, stretches and sticks across a poignant hazardous observation: “They ain't worried 'bout who they steppin' on, no/Just as long as they race the top/They don't wanna die nameless, no/They just wanna be famous.”
In comparison to his 2015 debut, Free TC, here Ty excels at making an album filled with potential radio-hits. That’s not to say that Free TC wasn’t good; his intent behind it was sincere. On it, he created an ode to his incarcerated brother and featured him on it. It doesn’t get any more creative than that. Yet his execution on Beach House 3 commands you to listen.
Still, he defends his first go-around passionately: "It didn't sell platinum or anything, but it's still a classic f**king record, and if you don't know, you better ask somebody," he told Rolling Stone about Free TC. "It probably will go platinum." Whether or not that will happen is up for question, yet BH3 has tracks that have the potential to spend an extended stay on a Billboard chart. There’s no fear of a sophomore slump here; this is a guaranteed triumph.
Amid the party, Tyrone William Griffin Jr. has seemingly grown from the “Paranoid” player he was on the first Beach House. His love interest in real life, Fifth Harmony’s green-eyed beauty Lauren Jauregui, co-stars in “In Your Phone.” Her laugh punctures the beginning of the song, where the two are caught inside a hodgepodge quarrel most couples experience based on broken lines of communication and possible infidelity. He’s done a bit of growing up.
Beach House 3 feels like a more mature version of its Beach House 1 and 2 predecessors. The ribald voicemails and conversations with ratchet p***y bearers who have poor fellatio skills aren’t invited this time around. Precious from Free TC doesn’t make a comeback either. Compared to where Ty is now, these salacious and cringe-worthy moments—while entertaining—seem regressive.
Sonically, the album is a complicated orgy of different sounds that produces beautifully mixed offspring. And as diverse as it is, it’s still cohesive. Crafting a winning song is his strong suit, and he enlists the right artists to enhance its sound.
There’s the sexual trap infused “Droptop in the Rain,” featuring Tory Lanez. It flows seamlessly, and begs for a repeat each time. Soon after, he aims to present a character study of himself and closely observes his surroundings. With the help of Future and Swae Lee on “Don’t Judge Me,” he keeps an eye on who he trusts. But, of course, mischief seeps in. “Let me have a threesome if you love me,” Future swiftly propositions. Alongside “Don’t Sleep On Me,” featuring Future and 24hrs, these songs serve as the perfect backdrop for brightly lit clubs filled with the baddest chicks and flyest dudes all singing in unison.
Despite all these “Famous Friends” walking around his house, Ty is perfectly capable of steering his own ship, effortlessly riding solo on “All The Time” and the melancholic “Message In A Bottle.” Drake attempted this formula on More Life, but it seemed all over the place. Where Drizzy sank, Ty soared. Both albums are saturated with features, yet on BH3 they enhanced, not hindered Ty’s artistry. You can tell he spent his time on this, meticulously listening to every sound bite. It was a labor of love.
Sonically speaking, Beach House 3 is one of the strongest projects to come out this year. Borrowing from ‘90s R&B influences like Donnell Jones and 112 to minimal electronic and acoustic soundscapes to trap, he created a solid new soundscape. He made an R&B album with a new influence and catapulted the genre higher, giving it a ninth life.
Ty’s stories on wax, coupled with his dreamy melodic confections, are crafted like delicious diary entries giving their reader a taste of his current slice of life. Not every bite is sweet, but as the record plays it will leave you salivating for more. Enjoy your stay.