Campaign is an odd project. The cover art, title, and opening tracks all imply that Campaign is going to be an unapologetically political project, but for the most part, Ty Dolla $ign has made a relative sequel to his breakout Free TC. It’s strong and weak in all the same ways as that record, albeit without the same level of originality, since it explores a similar sound. It’s an album/mixtape that seems like it should be important, but whilst it’s enjoyable in all the right ways, it’s also kind of forgettable.
Putting aside all the political posturing (which would usually be welcome in a genre as inherently political as hip-hop), Ty Dolls $ign is at his best when he hones in on his very specific sound. It’s a very warm, richly produced form of R&B, favouring lush pads, and catchy sampled vocals. Dolla $ign’s singing fits with the auto-tuned semi-rapping of many of the biggest stars in hip-hop, but he’s much better at it than most of them. He has a real, natural gift for effortlessly catchy melody, which came to the forefront on Free TC. Unfortunately whilst the atmosphere and production on Campaign matches its predecessor, the melodies feel a bit more slapdash, and are generally less memorable.
There are also a few songs where Dolla $ign tries to branch out into other sounds, but that largely means imitating the styles of his collaborators. On the title track, he creates a passable Future beat, but it lacks the swaggering misery that makes Future’s best songs work. The Travis Scott featuring 3 Wayz is atmospheric, with intricately layered synths, but the beat and vocal work lacks the bombast that usually distracts from Scott’s vapidity. Campaign has a lot of what has made Ty Dolla $ign’s best work special, but it all feels a little watered down and tossed off. It’s not a bad record, and it’s got some great tunes, but it’s hard to shake the feeling it’s the filler that comes before his next big project.