Home Music Music Features

Ty Dolla $ign and Dvsn Mark the Start of Cuffing Season With Their New Collaborative Mixtape

Artists discuss their new project ‘Cheers to the Best Memories’ and how they set out to make the ‘Watch the Throne’ of R&B

Blair Brown*

It almost makes too much sense that the new collaborative mixtape from R&B heavyweights Ty Dolla $ign and Dvsn started at a party thrown by Drake. Over Zoom, Dvsn’s Daniel Daley recalls being invited on Ty’s yacht after they met at Drizzy’s soirée. “We kind of just vibed and played some records and caught a vibe off of each other,” he says. “We were like, ‘yo we need to sit down and actually make a song.’” This was in 2018 before a global pandemic slowed the world to a halt. Still, even before lockdowns put everything on hold, a number of the songs on Cheers to the Best Memories, the lush and seductive project they released last week, were already in the books. The creative chemistry between Ty and the Toronto-based duo comprised of Daley and producer Ninteen85 was undeniable. Apparently, it’s easy for artists to be productive when they understand each other so thoroughly.

And one couldn’t dream up a better pairing than Dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign. Both have a knack for vivid vulnerability — they paint with emotions, creating landscape paintings that might be a little X-rated. Ty Dolla $ign, for his part, is no stranger to collaboration. He’s built a career as a kind of R&B assassin. If you need a track on your album that’s sure to set the mood right, you know to call up Ty.  Dvsn came up through Drake’s OVO Sound and move with an alluring mystique. Together, they make the kinds of ballads that the certified lover boy himself would be impressed by. Ty’s ebullient sensibility fits perfectly alongside Dvsn’s introspective moodiness. On their new project, they manage to capture the duality of romance. From the opulence of the club to the private corners of the bedroom.

Dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign caught up with Rolling Stone shortly after they dropped the mixtape. They discussed their creative chemistry and how they might have set off the 2021 cuffing season.

My first thought when I was listening to the record was how it felt like an anthem for people getting back into relationships after COVID.
Ty: Hell yeah, man. It’s a good time to get into a relationship and spread love.

Daniel: Hey, speak for yourself.

What was the spark that got this collaboration together?
Daniel: Me and Ty met at a party in Miami, and instantly realized that we were fans of each other, even though we had never met. Not too shortly after I ended up flying out while he was on the road and hopped onto his studio bus that he had going and went to go sit down and try and make this record. By the end of the day, we had like four songs, and we just kept going. It just really started flowing and we were joking about it like, yo, it’d be crazy if we made the R&B Watch the Throne, or the R&B What a Time to be Alive. We kind of joked about it and then left it alone, even though we had started a bunch of really dope records.  I think, individually, both of our camps, that had heard what we were doing around that time were like, yo you guys got to get back and finish that. You got to drop that shit.

Ty: I know I have that conversation with a lot of artists where we’ll be like, oh yeah, let’s make something, oh yeah let’s do something. And then either we’ll put it out because I do have a lot of songs out with a lot of artists, or it’ll be cap and we won’t even meet up. But Daniel, he was serious. I liked everything he was doing. I told him I was going on tour and he’s like, all right, I’ll pull up. I’m like, for sure, I’m getting the studio bus and all that so we could still record. He actually pulled up. We just kept on going at it. Then I guess we just stopped. I put out a solo album, they put out a solo album, then the pandemic happened. And then, recently, like a couple of months ago, we just linked back up, got in the studio, and finished it. And here we are.

You mentioned you collaborate with a lot of artists, how did this feel different for you?
It just flowed. Not to say that a lot of other shit don’t flow, but as far as in person, in the studio type shit, me and Daniel were making like four songs a day. I know we only used like, what is it, 11? But when he came on we were just making hella songs. Like another one, “Dangerous City,” off of their album, the Muse album, that was done on the bus as well. We were just cooking up crazy.

Talk to me about some of the themes on the record. Twitter is full of raunchy memes about the project. What kind of headspace were you in as you guys are writing some of these songs?
Daniel: I think that we always have a certain amount of honesty that we always want to keep with the records, and not worrying about what the politically correct way to say something is, and just saying it as real as we feel it. But I think, for the most part, we just wanted to go in and make dope music. I mean, even with our Dvsn debut, when we did that, I didn’t even realize how much sex was on that project until it was done. Until it was out and people were like, oh my God, it’s just such a sexy album. And I was like, really? I guess I did talk a lot about that. And it’s the same thing with this project. I think people are taking it like this is the ultimate sex vibe tape that we could have. And I don’t think I even realized how much of that was on it because records like “Fight Club,” where it’s talking about relationship arguments and how it’s like the movie Fight Club, where the guy’s fighting everybody and then realizes at the end he was really just fighting himself. Those are the things that stuck out to me. Moments like “Wedding Cake” and “Somebody That You Don’t Know.” It’s all these little concepts that we based on real-life conversations. But I think at the end of it, we realized that it all had this high-level R&B vibe to it. So we just wanted to keep that throughout the whole project.

Do you find that it was easier to get into a more vulnerable space in the pandemic?
Ty: I feel like most of these songs were done before the pandemic, and then the rest were done after. So it’s just life. I think we were just speaking on life.

Daniel: Yeah. And even speaking to that, some of it was before the pandemic, some of it was right after it — I mean, as after the pandemic as we can say we are. It speaks to the whole title of the album, which is kind of in the vibe. Cheers to the Best Memories, which in our minds is supposed to be about the great memories we’ve had and for the great ones we want to make. So it’s all this stuff that we remember from before, and when people are thinking back on when things were a certain way, and also looking into the future, like, all right, how are we going to make shit pop now? I think that’s what really fueled the overall aura and narrative behind the tape.

I thought the sequencing was really interesting, there are a lot of interludes. How did you go about creating that kind of atmosphere on the mixtape?
Nineteen85: I think on this body of work, the cool thing is the whole process was constantly evolving. A lot of the thought that went into it was literally in real-time as it was happening. So as these interludes are taking shape and we’re like you know what, maybe we don’t need a second verse on this song, or maybe this is where we can add this other song. A lot of that was literally us just being in the studio and playing the songs back to back and going through the whole tracklisting. It was all of us literally going back and forth constantly just trying to figure out what worked the best.

Daniel: Yeah. Another cool thing with those interludes is I think that the other artists kind of forced the interlude from the other person. I loved “Rude” so much. I forced that on that project and Ty loved “Better Yet” so much that he forced that on that project. And we were kind of like, okay, cool. Let’s let slap them together and create this moment because we heard it in the studio by accident, literally overlapping each other one after another. I don’t even know if in R&B history there have been back-to-back interludes like that. We just heard it like that in the studio. We were like, yo, that’s kind of a wave right there. The way it went straight out of Ty’s bop into this vibe that’s very Dvsn. It just came together really, really crazy.

Speaking of those two songs, some critics have pointed out that songs like “Rude” lean heavily into a masculine perspective. And then the flip side of that is “Better Yet,” this deeply emotive song. How did you guys balance those two tendencies?
Daniel: I think that shit just all comes naturally to us. Ty does what comes naturally to him, we do what comes naturally to us. We’re both fans of what we’ve heard from each other. Songs that are just sitting on our laptops. “Rude” was literally just sitting on Ty’s laptop, and “Better Yet” was just sitting on my laptop. I’ve been telling 85 we need to drop this for a hot minute. And he’s always been like, I don’t know. I don’t know if now’s the time. But Ty kind of helped me have my, I told you so moment and forced it on this one.

It’s interesting when you read the lyrics and listen to the songs, it’s clear that the music comes from a male perspective — or at least from both of your personal perspectives. Based on the response online, it looks like the music connects across genders. What do you think hits about this record for people at the end of the day?
Daniel: I think real recognize real. This was us just talking our shit from our perspective. And I think a lot of women can relate. Or they see the similarities in the men they interact with. I think no matter who the listener is, it’s an authentic connection when you put honesty into your music.

What’s the craziest thing you guys have seen a fan post online about the mixtape?

Ty: The craziest thing I saw was a girl that said she’s going to go get her boyfriend pregnant to it.

Ok, wow. And beyond the interludes, there are a couple of collaborations on the album. Talk about bringing YG into the mix.
Ty: Me and YG had some sessions and when he was here, I played him some of the tape. When we came across that song, I’m like, bro, why don’t you just do a verse real quick? And then he did a verse. He killed it. I sent it to Daniel. Daniel was like, oh man, come on, bro, tell him to go back in there and give us [more]. He did that a lot, bro. He did that to me through the whole album. Like just making me go back to try to make it better. We were really trying to find the perfect shit for every song. And YG ended up killing it. So shout out to my boy. I’m actually happy that Daniel was so hard on us. And we all were hard on each other just to come with the perfect R&B project.

Daniel: Yeah. That YG verse came through literally like 48 hours before the project dropped. So that was very in the moment, in the vibe. And he came with one thing first, and we’re like, no, I feel like there’s a higher level we can reach. And he came back with that opening bar, which was, “I’ma think you cheatin’ if we only fuckin’ once a week” And I was like, that’s the YG we needed. There it is.

And the Rauw Alejandro track seems like the biggest departure for all of you, in terms of style, how did that come about?
Daniel: Man. That was a super process. We could probably release four different versions of that record. That song has taken so many different shapes. It started off as a slow almost ballad tempo record that we ended up speeding up. And we were thinking, do we add a rapper? But the drums weren’t right. Do we go reggaeton with the production?  We all just loved this record. And I had been in the studio with Jermaine Dupri working on the next Dvsn project. I played that song for him and I’m like, yo, bro, I feel like this is one of those joints where you could find the exact bop and the exact drum pattern to make it a smash. He found the perfect thing as far as the drums. And we locked that in. Ty with Rauw were in Atlanta for a Triller fight and Rauw heard it and jumped on it. When he sent the record back, we were all like, okay, this is the ninth version, and this is the right one. We all knew it immediately. I think if you heard the original tempo, you might not feel like it’s the biggest departure, but now that it has that tempo and that bop, it kind of feels a little bit more interesting, a little bit more like, wow, these guys are really stretching their wings out.

Ty: I’m happy as fuck you said that too, because it’s like, all right, we did what we were supposed to do guys.

Nineteen85: For sure.

The tape ends with the Mac Miller verse, and there’s something sort of poetic about that being the last verse you hear on the record — the mixtape is called Cheers to the Best Memories. What was the process behind that last single?
Ty: That song was created on the bus as well. And I had an off day, so we came to LA and we linked with Mac at the Record Plant in Hollywood and played it for him. He loved it automatically and did a verse, but he didn’t love it. So he was like, I’m going to do another one. And he did another one and we all loved it. And he was just like, yo, let’s put that out. That was like the day after he did it. And then like two days after that, he passed away, man. So we were sitting on it for a while. I always knew I wanted to put it out.

What was your creative partnership with Mac like?
Ty: Mac was my boy for years. I met him through Wiz, and then Mac did a tour with YG, and we were hanging out then. And have stayed friends throughout the last, I don’t know, it feels like 10 years. Me and Mac made like hella songs right before he passed, and I don’t even have access to those joints. So I don’t know. I got to ask his fam, like who’s got the hard drives? But we definitely have so much more. So this is just the taste of it right here.

Now that this project is out, what’s next for you guys?
Nineteen85: More music, more life, more wealth.

Daniel: Yeah, us as Dvsn, we definitely have a lot planned, and we’re scheming pretty hard on this R&B game. So, we’re about to go turn up outside. Definitely look out for that.

Ty: Yeah. Let’s go get it, man. Cheers to the best memories you already know.

From Rolling Stone US