In this era of cross-listed, audience-consolidating joint rap albums, it was only a matter of time before R&B entered the market. Longtime collaborators Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih—like-minded raunch connoisseurs with penchants for rap-inflected phrasing and rhythms, wielding texturally distinct vocal instruments—seem perfect for the job. The pair reportedly recorded the material that became MihTy over the course of eight sessions in 2017, trimming the album from around 60 demos to a brisk 11 songs stretching 35 minutes. The product is proficient and occasionally transcendent, but rarely more than the sum of its (high-value) parts. It is audibly the work of two singers who are on equal footing but don’t truly identify as a “group,” as they have admitted on record.
With “The Light,” the project opens on an analog note, sampling Keni Burke’s canonical “Risin’ To The Top” bass line and interpolating Ahmad’s “Back in the Day” flow for a hammy ode to courting. (“I’m tryna meet you in Vegas and try my luck again,” Jeremih quips.) The song establishes a template: Ty riffs underneath Jeremih’s chorus, which itself jumps an octave from Ty’s pre-chorus, building rapport less through homophony than through well-crafted shifts in tone and a mastery of ad-libs. The central harmonic element turns out to be background singer Goldiie.
The up-tempo “Goin Thru Some Thangz,” Biggie and R. Kelly-flipping “F.Y.T.,” and bittersweet ballad “Perfect Timing” follow suit. Content to take turns, Ty and Jeremih don’t crowd each other’s space; whether out of respect, vision, or haste, it’s sometimes tough to tell. The approach makes a song like “New Level” feel like underexplored territory. When the two singers converge for a beautiful chorus over a Dru Hill-sampling beat from Slikk Muzik, A1, and Hitmaka, it’s one of the album’s few extended moments of vocal unison. “Take Your Time,” “These Days,” and “Imitate” conclude with thick ensemble vocal arrangements, moments of teamwork that also hint at what’s possible when Ty and Jeremih build on top of, rather than around, each other.
Though MihTy doesn’t convincingly present the pair as wingmen or foils, they have not lost their ability to charm individually. Neither is at their peak of smuttiness here, but they remain comically blunt: lines like “1-800-Dolla-Sign, give you what you like,” and “Round after round, she pound for pound with me” are gigglingly horny. Their shared taste in glamour as pheromone inspires cinematic scenes of luxury. There is melancholy, too—a knowledge that their rabid pursuits stem from trust issues, manifesting as a diamond-speckled, Versace-sheeted fear of intimacy. “Perfect Timing” turns out to be ironically titled, telling the story of each singer’s relationship failures, with the hook’s “hands on your body” just a memory.
It’s probably unfair to hold it against Ty and Jeremih that they’re less interested, here, in the vocal traditions of Jodeci than Migos, even given MihTy’s multiple nods to R&B groups of similar vintage. (Mint Condition’s “So Fine” also makes an appearance.) They are consummate songwriters who know how to cede a spotlight. But it’s hard not to wish they spent more time sharing it.