A ride in Ty Dolla $ign’s whip can feel scary and dumb, but in the end the adrenaline leaves you flushed with laughter.
skkrreeeew Dolla’s ad lib squeals in the background of Trey Songz’ opening verse for “Shootin Shots.” $ign starts his with a couple traditionally elongated skrt, skrts before letting loose with a full-on tire-squealing skrt.
He does the same thing during his own track, “Saved,” letting off a 0 to 200 siren skrt that makes you stretch your arms out the window, your cheeks caving in with sandswept wind even when you’re inside.
Dolla celebrates the flexibility of the skrt ad lib, bending it to suggest everything from escape to love, using his wondrous voice to mimic car tires squealing in a horrifyingly awesome fashion.
The first time I heard “Saved” I thought to myself “Goodness Dolla, slow the damn car down,” then gasped and clutched my chest and, yes, got a little turned on.
That’s a Ty Dolla feature. He’s America’s on-again, off-again lover who shows up to takes us on wildly intimate and melodically earnest drives, makes us cum our brains out, then bounces to the next beach.
Just look at his feature appearance list for 2018. It’s astonishing. Dolla was anywhere worth being this year.
Don't believe me? Here’s a top 10:
10. Christina Aguilera ft. 2 Chainz – “Accelerate”
Industry stalwarts like Aguilera make a habit of turning to Ty for smooth chart reentry. Too good to be backup, Dolla humbly and joyously supercharges the supporting space allotted him. The duo bounce around for an amazing call-and-response, zig-zagging past each other within the sparse synth beat like racquetball players in an a scintillating volley, and then slowly dance in unison after every furious score.
9. Arin Ray – “Take”
Dolla can't seem to resist crack-up lines (“and feelings don't catch those” from “Straight Up”) or goofy intros and interstitials (“Zaddy”). But around the time of his collab album MihTy with Jeremih, Dolla said on Instagram he would deliver “no funny shit.” He makes good on that promise with “Take.” He and Ray marinate their verses for steady, sensual smoothness, with Dolla talking about taking his time and Ray telling him to take it slow over a patient yet urgent beat.
8. Lil Durk, ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR – “Breather”
Dolla cherishes musical kinship. Not only does he work with everybody, but he keeps linking up with those his favorites: Jeremih, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Lil Durk, Kanye, Beyoncé. Durk is a hard-ass rapper and Dolla clearly likes his lilt, teaming up here as the vocal mellow-out for a chill bounce.
7. Lil Durk ft. A Boogie Wit da Hoodie – “100 Grand”
For a guy with the smokiest voice in the game, $ign sure knows how to skip around any melody, adding choppy but choreographed excitement like a grinning water-skier. His goofy yet sexy-cool attitude is in full effect here as he mispronounces “jewelry” to rhyme with “you say you say that’s your man are you surely?”
6. Elvana Gjata – “Off Guard”
Ain't nowhere Dolla ain’t wanted.. R&B, rap, dance, electronic—he fits in all those places, and can make the styles indistinguishable from each other with a flip of a his dreads. On the synchronized chorus for “Off Guard,” Dolla’s smokey cask of a voice surrounds and uplifts Gjata’s airy vocals to create sweet, timeless dance-pop.
5. Tinashe ft. French Montana – “Me So Bad”
This club-to-bedroom banger proves Dolla and TInashe can steam up any room, featuring Dolla’s mastery of these echoey cave yelps. Dolla lets fly hollers like he's on a cliff and he’s the first to see your boat making way to the beach. A sweet and exultant trip-hop bop.
4. Trey Songz ft. Tory Lanez – “Shootin Shots”
Dolla destroys this sugary R&B/pop dance track in his sleep like Ambienzilla. There are the silly yet satisfying skrts and such a regal introduction the chorus needed to be cut short so he could belt “Dolla $ign!” like he was charging a hill with a super soaker.
3. Kanye West ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR – “Wouldn't Leave”/ The Carters – ”Boss”
There's been a lot of “king of R&B” talk. Dolla may not be on the throne, but he moves through the highest and holiest musical halls with the ease of royalty. Who among the male contenders this year could appear on a record with Drake, Kanye, Beyoncé (the real ruler), Jay-Z, and Mariah Carey?
“Wouldn’t Leave” is Kanye’s profession of gratitude to his wife, a bond of love and trust. The only vocalist he would trust for this task this year is Dolla.
$ign only provides accompanying vocals on “Boss,” but they meld into Beyoncé’s nearly perfect everything like an ice cream sundae on a sunny boulevard.
2. Mariah Carey – “The Distance”
Dolla’s amazing ad lib entry—his oohyeah—is a passionate and singular release that he detonates it at the most explosive times. Whenever he lets off random yeahs or oohs, as he does throughout “The Distance,” it's hard not to raise and pump your arms with each exclamation. And at the end of the song he uncorks an oohyeah so guttural and glorious I feel like I’m howling to the moon when I sing along.
1. Kids See Ghosts – “Freee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)”
Ye uses that beach-mist energy Dolla juices his appearances with to drive the most cathartic and raucously sublime chorus of the year. Ty lets loose, singing “I feel free” like he's sprinting into the ocean, facing only the horizon and the abyss, as Ye’s tectonic, elemental synths both splash in the sea and ignite the twinkle of each star.