After delivering a compelling debut album with Free TC, Ty Dolla $ign returns with a new mixtape, Campaign. Campaign isn’t too far-fetched from being a studio album in effect, yet aside from superb production, it doesn’t feel as well conceived as his debut. Ty loosely drops a concept considering its campaign season but fails to commit consistently. If the campaign is about selling himself, he exceeds expectations without a doubt.
“$Intro” initiates with political messaging, expectedly. The campaign shifts from Clinton and Trump to campaigning for each other – supporting and loving one another. “$” follows, slickly produced, yet shallow. Quite repetitive, lyrics aren’t the strong suit, as Dolla raps about himself. Ultimately, on the chorus, he confidently spits, “Dolla, you know you the shit.”
“Campaign” is strongly produced, sounding “H.A.M.” to quote Kanye West. Future guests, and for whatever reason, “Campaign” sounds more like his track as opposed to Dolla’s. The main reason is because of the rhythmic, fast paced rhymes, and the minimalist, looped production that isn’t dissimilar from the sound of DS2. As a banger or turn-up track, “Campaign” is successful. In regards to being transcendent, not so much.
“??? (Where)” featuring Migos continues the sharp production work, anchored by a badass beat and malicious, gritty synth. “??? (Where)” is drenched in swag and lax in depth. Essentially, he’s drunk, high, and hooking up. “3 Wayz” (featuring Travis Scott) doesn’t dramatically shift the script, though lean plays a notable role. The pace slows as if Dolla wants fans to live off the same high of which he sings. Scott delivers the faded hook:
“One more stop ‘fore the world stop / we gon’ roll this loud it’s prohibited / making money moves off the laptop / codeine, codeine, codeine, no prescriptions here.”
On “Juice,” Dolla brags:
“She only call me when she want the juice.”
The juice which Dolla refers isn’t a beverage, but himself. Essentially, he’s come up and all the women want him. He makes this crystal clear on throughout, particularly the bridge:
“They doubted me and now she want my energy / we ain’t got no chemistry but I still might f*ck though…”
“Zaddy” follows up appropriately – contextually that is – given the gold digging, self-confident references of “Juice.” In essence, Dolla gives her everything she wants – material things and physical pleasure. He benefits from the latter, ultimately the M.O. of the record. “Zaddy” superbly segues into the slow, super slick “Hello,” which embraces the same vibe as “Juice” and “Zaddy.” He’s got money, so therefore, he flexes (“Young n*gga flexin’”). Furthermore, the women want him:
“Boy, I’ve been so lonely / and I see you getting money / but you don’t spend none on me.”
“R&B” is lush. It’s as warm as a gritty Dolla can be. “R&B” isn’t innocent, as he bluntly asserts, “I feel in love with an R&B bitch.” Still, the record represents a savvy stretch of Campaign, representing the crème de la crème. On soulful pre-release single “Stealing,” he’s criminal, thanks to being a heartbreaker. The strings are a selling point.
“Clean” continues a cocky, confident script, ultimately lacking profundity. In a nutshell, it’s well produced, but thrives off clichés as opposed to bigger, deeper ideas. “My Song” ft. 24hrs doesn’t add depth, as Dolla brags about his latest conquest:
“She say that she wanna stay over / but I like to stay all alone / I f*cked that b*tch to my song…”
On “Pu$$y,” Dolla is assisted by Trey Songz and Wiz Khalifa. Both guest artists are natural complements to Ty, particularly Songz given his penchant for sex. Expectedly, “Pu$$y” is ultimately about just what its title suggests.
“No Justice” featuring Big TC aims higher, something that Campaign should’ve done more of besides focusing on shallow things. It doesn’t last, of course, as “Watching,” featuring Meek Mill, is all about p-popping. The Charlie Heat Remix of “Campaign” concludes the mixtape.
Ultimately, Campaign has its fair share of moments. It’s good enough to be considered to be Ty Dolla $ign’s sophomore album, yet it’s not as sound as Free TC was. He remains himself throughout its course, but that also means overreliance on sex, drugs, and shallowness. Campaign, hence, is no classic, but an enjoyable effort by Dolla.
Gems: “3 Wayz,” “Zaddy,” “Hello” & “R&B”
Ty Dolla $ign • Campaign • Atlantic • Release: 9.23.16
Photo Credit: Atlantic
Publishing Note: This mixtape review was originally published on The Musical Hype as Ty Dolla Sign Flexes on His ‘Campaign’ Mixtape on September 29, 2016.