Dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign Conceived Their New Album on a Miami Yacht
Hip-hop history is rife with creative romances: Jay-Z and Kanye, Drake and Future, and now, dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign. Carrying on the tradition of collab albums, the creative duo gives us the recently-released Cheers to the Best Memories. The 11-song project, created by dvsn—the singer Daniel Daley and the producer Nineteen85— along with their friend Ty Dolla $ign, is an ode to fleeting time and uncertain futures. Indeed, with track titles like “Memories” and “Better Yet,” and features from the late Mac Miller and the up-and-coming star Rauw Alejandro, the album glitters with the sounds of the past and future. A few days before the album was released last week, dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign jumped on a Zoom call to tell us how they conceived the record on a yacht in Miami.
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: How did this collaboration album come to be?
TY DOLLA $IGN: Daniel and I linked at a party that Drake was throwing in Miami. We ended up being fans of each other. So, the next day I invited them on the yacht. Not trying to sound…
DANIEL DALEY: We sound mad boujee right now. “We were on a yacht…”
DOLLA $IGN: [Laughs] Not trying to sound like that, but we were. We played music and I loved everything he was doing and he loved everything I was doing. Later, we just recorded hella songs. After that, all three of us ended up linking in LA.
DALEY: Some of those early vibes from that period ended up on this project. I mean we didn’t really know we were building an album. We just had the idea of making songs and then we ended up getting into such a good groove that this record started flowing like crazy. “I Believed It” with Mac Miller was one of the earlier things that we cooked up. “Dangerous City” ended up on Amusing Her Feelings. We cooked up a bit then and then we looked up like, “Yo, we’re kinda sitting on a few joints. It would be funny if we did some R&B Watch the Throne-type shit.” We were talking like that at the time. And then we kinda left it alone and came back to it. Then [Nineteen]85 was in town so we connected again and then just recently, through the pandemic, we really sat down and locked in and made it a real thing.
DOLLA $IGN: You said the R&B Watch the Throne, so you already know.
DALEY: [Laughs] I mean, that’s what we were joking about at the time. But I just want people to know that this was very in the moment and very sporadic. We didn’t sit there and overthink too much. I’m sure a lot went into the other projects, like a Watch the Throne, or something like that. But with this one, we just lived in the moment. On a few of those songs, you can really hear that this is happening in real-time. We made a mixtape that we felt like the streets would love right now.
UKIOMOGBE: Who were your musical influences for this project?
DOLLA $IGN: I would say 85, 40 [Noah Shebib], and my brother Daniel for sure. We all influence each other. Daniel’s making it seem like it was super quick, and a lot of the songs do happen fast, but then sometimes we’d come back and change a line or a verse just to perfect it. We wanted to give our best.
NINETEEN85: Ty, I have a question for you. One thing that I definitely learned throughout this whole back-and-forth process is that you’re like, a producer producer. How long have you been doing that? Is that something you’ve done throughout your whole career?
DOLLA $IGN: Yeah, that’s what I really started out doing. I started playing instruments and then I started to DJ. Then, I learned how to produce. I’ve been doing that since I was 12. My first real success was “Toot It and Boot It” by YG. I did the beats for all of YG’s old music while DJ Mustard was sitting there watching everything I was doing. Then I gave him a pack of sounds. The next thing I know, he becomes one of the biggest producers. So we’ve been doing it for a while for sure. But it was definitely a blessing to produce with you, man. You’re one of the greatest out there. I’m honored.
NINETEEN85: No, no. The honor’s all mine. When we really locked in, I was like, “Damn.”
DOLLA $IGN: Thank you, brother. I appreciate it.
DALEY: I don’t think anyone expected him to say that he’s been producing since he was 12. That’s not the number that I was thinking.
DOLLA $IGN: I can’t say produce. I can say that I made beats. I did learn that there’s a difference, so I was making beats at 12.
NINETEEN85: That’s the reason I asked. While being in the room with you, you definitely know how to produce records and that’s not normal for most artists.
DOLLA $IGN: I appreciate that man. I had a great time and we should definitely keep locking in.
NINETEEN85: I have a question for Daniel. As somebody who really is a student of R&B, what’s it like to be working with another person who has that same outlook on songwriting and vocals? Because for basically forever, it’s just been me and you.
DALEY: To be honest, I think the reason why this project happened was because of the like-mindedness when it comes to that. We’d be sitting there studying artists’ runs and studying when the beats drop and what made this record work. There are not many people who are real students of the game, especially from this generation. With us, we always made a point of knowing the history, knowing who did what, checking the credits, understanding what makes what sound like that. So, when we bumped into Ty, it was like, “Oh shit. He’s on the same wave.” It makes sense why he’s gotten this far. He’s a real musician.
UKIOMOGBE: What was your favorite song to work on from the album?
DOLLA $IGN: For me, all of them. I had a great time doing each song and the most fun part for me was putting them all together and in order at the end. We’d go back and forth on our orders and we’d all have different versions. We’d battle until we all agreed. It got crazy, for sure.
DALEY: What makes Ty such an injection of a different vibe is like, he looks at things in ways that me and 85 just don’t. Usually, we try to make our track list tell a story—like an intro or prologue to a book. But Ty said that we needed a slapper off the rip and that’s how we ended up with a record like Memories. He approached the track list like, “Nah, off the rip we need to hit ‘em over the head with a banger.” At the same time, we knew we had to make the narrative important. I don’t think we would’ve gotten to this place without each other.
NINETEEN85: Yeah, Ty definitely pushed us to do “Memories” and I think that’s the last song we added, isn’t it?
DOLLA $IGN: Yeah, that’s the last one. That was like a month ago.
DALEY: I have a question for you Ty, and this just might be for my ego.
DOLLA $IGN: [Laughs] Pull it out, baby.
DALEY: As I’ve played the album for people, some have been like, “Daniel you killed Ty on this one” or “Ty killed you on this one.” They always point out the record that they feel like one of us got off better than the other one. In my head, I can name so many songs that you went crazy on. Is there any record that you feel like, “Shit, I think Daniel got me on that one?” Watch him say no.
DOLLA $IGN: Uhhh. Definitely not. [Laughs] Nah, I’m just playin’. Like I say, man, I’m a super fan of you, bro. My favorite song that you started off and that I feel like is yours is “Don’t Say a Word.” That one, and the interlude [“Can You Take It”] that comes after it. You went crazy, bro. And, of course, a lot of people do like “Rude” which is my interlude, but I like yours that comes after it [“Better Yet”] more. That’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album for sure.
DALEY: What’s crazy is that I love your “Don’t Say a Word” verse. You came out with a cadence and flow that was so necessary. Anyway, that’s all I wanted to know.
UKIOMOGBE: What do you absolutely need to have in the studio with you?
NINETEEN85: Tequila and good lighting for Daniel.
DOLLA $IGN: Don’t forget the hookah for Daniel.
DALEY: No, don’t forget that shit. I need that.
DOLLA $IGN: He needs his hookah. You know, I just need my regular essentials. My flowers, grinder, cones, and my laptop. I’m kind of needy I guess. I need my Moog [synthesizer], my Juno 2…
DALEY: For those of you who don’t know, he’s talking about literal studio equipment and instruments.
DOLLA $IGN: I need all three of my favorite recording guitars. All types of shit.
DALEY: When I got in the studio with Ty, I remember him asking me what I liked to record on. He asked me what mic I used and what my setup was like. I literally have no answer for those questions. I sing on whatever. I wouldn’t even know. Any mic that the studio has is what I use. It shows how much time he’s put into learning all the details of what makes him sound the best.
UKIOMOGBE: What do you hope this album represents for people?
DALEY: I’ll just say this. The project is really supposed to just be a soundtrack, a playlist, a mixtape—whatever you want to call it. It’s a chance to go out there and make some memories and make the best out of whatever life has thrown at us now. We’re in such a crazy time and everyone’s either reminiscing on how things were or wondering how things are going to be. I just want to make sure that we’re part of that journey of making the new memories that are worth remembering.
DOLLA $IGN: Very well said, pal.