If the final stop of his "Beach House" tour was any indication, Ty Dolla Sign had quite the spring. The rising Compton R&B singer, a master of the vocal hook and harnesser of a biting, hissing blend of hip hop known as ratchet, celebrated the conclusion of his monthlong journey up and down the West Coast with a set heavy on guests, grass and girls.
Bragging that over the tour, named in celebration of his excellent recent "Beach House" EP and series of mixtapes, he'd bedded women "every night except two," the artist born Tyrone Griffin on the final gig acted like a returning conquistador swimming in his riches.
"I don't have a girlfriend" he said at one point -- hint, hint -- and scoured the El Rey audience looking for post-show action. Blunts were handed to him like roses. When he was presented with a gold record for his breakout hit "Paranoid" by his manager, former Def Jam Music Group president Kevin Liles, the gig had all the makings of a christening.
A song so hot he had to play it twice, "Paranoid" is a memorably minimal track that rides the back of a plonked-synth melody and finger-snapped rhythm. It takes place (where else?) in a club, and two girls are involved. "I know they know 'bout each other," sang Ty warily while his band -- bass, guitar, beats, brass (including his father on trumpet), violin and keyboard -- offered loose sonic punctuation.
Thinking "this may be a set-up," Ty contemplated them both while onstage artists including Wiz Khalifa, Trey Songz, Juicy J and Joe Moses bounced and rapped along. "Both of my ... drive Range Rovers/None of my ... eat leftovers," they offered, and the crowd, evenly divided between genders, screamed in unison.
The whole night went like this, a jampacked bash filled with a crowd high on music and Wiz Khalifa-brand indica. Ty is signed to Khalifa's Taylor Gang Records, co-owned by Juicy J (best known these days for "Dark Horse," his No. 1 hit with Katy Perry), and this year has been one big tease toward the release later this year of Ty's major label debut, "Free TC," after a series of increasingly inventive mixtapes gained attention.
Like any memorable beach party, there was heavy bass, grinding, twerking, boasting, bare breasts, a floor-clearing fight (quickly quelled by a security scrum) and much scream-along harmonizing. During a joyous take on "Or Nah," Ty and Khalifa traded rhymes while two buxom bikini-clad ladies lounged on beach chairs and occasionally stood to sway with the crowd.
Near the end, Ty Dolla pushed past the bikini girls and ascended a lifeguard stand that had stood unattended behind the DJ. Looking out on his people as though we were swimmers dancing in the waves (or, more likely, searching for the sexiest specimen), he smiled while singing his ode to memory lapse and chance encounters, "Familiar."
A bittersweet boast about a half-remembered hook-up and the trouble they sometimes cause, Ty opened with a flash of memory. "That girl looked familiar," he sang through an AutoTune microphone that made his voice waver robotically. A slow-tempo space-jam with plucked synthetic violins and a loping beat, the track propelled him forward toward an awkward realization. "That can't be your girl, she's familiar," he sang.
Oops. Bro code violation. Hopefully the misstep didn't affect his chances later in the night. Judging by the response, it most likely didn't.