Catering to the Ladies
First, Ty definitely hasn't lost any of the mojo that's made ladies swoon from Birmingham, Alabama to Birmingham, England and beyond. His voice is still as sweet as honey and as cool & smooth as freshly-applied cocoa butter. Although it's been four years since his last official album (not including two hip-hop mixtapes he released earlier in 2006), Tyrese shows no signs of rust or of being out of touch with the ever-evolving world of contemporary music.
Every track on the R&B CD caters to the ladies, with some songs being quite good. The first single, "One," about a man pledging his heart to a lover and vowing to be forever faithful, is sure to find its way into weddings in 2007 and beyond. And the Usher-esque "Turn Ya Out," which is produced by and features Lil Jon, is sexy midtempo bedroom romp music. Also, "Morning After" is an exquisite expression about the euphoric feeling that comes with waking up after a night of passion - and then engaging in some more passion. And the zodiac-inspired R. Kelly-Tyrese duet "Signs of Love Makin' Part II" is maybe the R&B portion's best-written song.
Same Old Song
Many songs are beyond cliched, such as the begging "Come Back to Me Shawty," and a few are just downright tacky, like "Better to Know," where Ty sings about how it's okay to sleep with other people as long as everyone's up front about it. Yeah. Okay.
Another thing is that he doesn't expand his sound or vision at all. The same Tyrese you heard on his debut single, "Sweet Lady," is the exact same Tyrese of today. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but redoing the same things on four straight R&B albums gets old. Which is where the hip-hop portion of Alter Ego comes in.
Remember when R. Kelly and Jay-Z teamed up for those two (completely mis-titled) Best of Both Worlds albums? Well, Tyrese aims for a one-man version of this with Alter Ego's rap disc. On his hip-hop material, Ty walks a fine line, trying to win over young male fans while at the same time not alienating his female fanbase.
Overall, Ty's rapping works on only three songs, "Fly Away," featuring Kurupt, the humorously melancholy "Broke A** Ni***s" and the title track, which are all pretty excellent.
We won't get into an in-depth analysis of Black-Ty's rhyme style, but his flow is reminiscent of a few great LA emcees - including 2Pac and Ras Kass - only slower and less polished. But truthfully, if Black-Ty never rhymed again, few people would probably miss him.