Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Song of the Day #226 - Ty Dolla $ign - L.A. (Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Brandy & James Fauntleroy)

It's just me out here...


Uhh I guess this version I just linked doesn't have the intro I just quoted, but whatever. This is the opening track to Ty Dolla $ign's new album Free TC, which is generally pretty sweet. Ty seems like he's on the way up in the world of hip hop, but I think he's still sorta a "b-lister", right? It's actually a pretty exciting level for an artist to be at, though, cause they can corral a lot of big names, and because they're partly banking on the recognition of these big names, they put the spotlight the most widely beloved aspects of these artists. Although this can sometimes be stifling and artificial, versus a more established artist who has the freedom to integrate the guest however they please, in cases like this it can turn the track into an insane cinematic overture.

Like basically what I mean is that if you have a Kendrick feature, you have to get him to do as much Kendrick stuff as possible so as to make it as much as possible a Kendrick feature. That means pleas to God, memories of poverty, gangbanging, getting trashed at parties, the complex legacy of Tupac, a Joyce-esque mythic remapping of the titular city, and some sound effects. And if you try to get all of that on one song it adds up to a verse like this, a knockdown banger that blows the doors open on the possibilities of the album. And for that matter, if you land James Fautleroy, who is just as hype a name if you're on your shit regarding songwriters and singers in hip hop, you'd better have him harmonize all over the place, and make the whole track sound like butter.

With this supernova of talent, Ty has to carefully walk a line between allowing them to shine without making his own presence irrelevant. His strategy is masterful: he places Los Angeles itself as the main "character" of the song, as a city that "can take you anywhere", both a place to "find love" but also the 2Pacalypse thug life. We get a sense that he is someone who can straddle these lines, and thus is necessary to bring us such a song, that can bring us both. And man just listen to this, can you think of many other songs like this? All the elements are established classics, sure, but this fusion is so... dramatic, so cinematic, so perfected, so smooth...

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