Ratchet & Blues For The Soul With Ty Dolla Sign, Tee Flii, and DJ Mustard

Like the term "casual elegance," Evan Nabavian is beginning to embrace "Ratchet & Blues"
By    November 17, 2014


Evan Nabavian is off fleek

Ryan Gosling’s character in Crazy, Stupid, Love presages the ratchet & blues ethos when he says to Steve Carell, “The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise.” Ty Dolla Sign illustrates this point when he opens The Weeknd’s “King of the Fall” remix as one might start a Greek epic, “She drove five hours just to get some long dick; no flowers from her nigga out in Luxembourg.”

Ratchet & blues is eternal youth with an open bar. It’s the hot girl from high school doing the ice bucket challenge on Facebook wearing a see-through shirt. It’s the nude scenes in the American Pie movies when you’re twelve. It’s hot Asian chicks. Today’s R&B thug is an Instagram playboy who sings about his conquests in explicit and often comic detail over bleeding edge rap beats.

Beginning last year, West Coast singers like Ty Dolla Sign and Tee Flii started using DJ Mustard’s minimal bangers to create a subgenre that might just outlive its suzerain. Recent singles show ratchet & blues in its prime. Ty Dolla Sign, Rayven Justice, Eric Bellinger, and their ilk compete to make the canonical sex anthem — something grandiose and catchy enough that, a generation from now, it will draw the same grinning nostalgia that Montel Jordan gets now.

The sound invites debauchery. The sweaty bass and hi-hats on “Don’t Tell Em” by Jeremih are made for wild nights and fat asses, not Brian McKnight. Likewise, the spacey beat on “Slide Thru” suits Rayven Justice’s callous boasts about stealing your girlfriend. Their popularity is such that your favorite rapper has probably appeared on a remix of one or both tracks. Today’s prevailing party music leaves chivalry and monogamy to the 40 year olds. If you can countenance that, these tracks bang.

A more distinctly 2014 trope is ratchet & b’s digital savvy. “Four Digits” from DJ Mustard’s album is an entire song about not giving your girlfriend your phone password; it also references the Jake from State Farm commercial. The intro track from Ty Dolla Sign’s Sign Language mixtape has Big Sean admonishing women fishing for likes. It comes back to the genre’s candor. As rapper/Twitter sage GrandeMarshall wrote, “I need Ty$ to make a song about how bitches be having private instagrams you wait 3 days for te follow and her photos be weak as all hell.” Too true.


>Perhaps most exciting is when the genre starts mutating. “Do It To Ya” by YG maps ratchet motifs to a halcyon West Coast house party, Dogg Pound interpolation and all. Tee Flii plays Nate Dogg to YG’s Snoop, singing a dirty hook in earnest, which is possibly the most fun you’ll have listening to rap this year. Elsewhere, The Weeknd’s despondent and depraved  “King of the Fall” finds a ratchet journeyman for the remix in Ty Dolla Sign. Together, they sing Cecil B. DeMille’s grand denouement of ratchet & blues.

So, does the party ever have to end? Tee Flii’s new single “Change Your World” trades the Mustard beat for keys and guitar. He’s still in the club feeling on her thighs, but the track’s tender tone says something just might be different this time.

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