Detroit MC Ty Farris has been unstoppable since he entered the game. With his No Cosign, Just Cocaine series (check our review of NCJC 4) among others in 2020/21, he has managed to improve with every release; With a crazy pen, battle rap wordplay, and mean flows, Ty comments on the rap game and street life. Room 39, fully produced by Portland beatsmith Trox, was actually one of his earliest projects and they’re rereleasing it in two parts for its fifth anniversary. While he is always growing more polished and building a strong discography, this older album is among his very best.
I’m motivated in the Motor City
Get tire tracks all over your back if you ain’t rolling with me
A common gripe with Ty Farris is that despite his amazing lyricism, there is sometimes a lack of cohesion or variety in his projects. While No Cosign 4 was likely his best yet given the improvement upon that and the all star production/feature lineup, Room 39 was actually a strong, early foray. Trox is a great match for him, lacing some really solid modernized boombap. Things are generally a bit brighter and more traditional sounding than the really hardcore grime of other Farris albums. It leans more Nas than Mobb Deep, let’s say. That being said, some beats like “North Korea Crackrock” are really memorable with the guitar sample, and the slower, moodier cuts.
Another welcome departure from Ty’s current style are the hooks. Many of the tracks on here have Ty doing a tuned, endearingly out of key sung hook which can be really catchy. For comparison, they’re like a more subtle interpretation of Eminem on Trick Trick’s classic “Welcome 2 Detroit”. “Middle of the Mayhem” is a good example, as well as the cathartic outro “Let Go” where Ty speaks on the difficulty of escaping the hood. There’s also the beautiful hook from fellow Detroit native Scolla, alongside strong features from Cassow (of Trox’ locale) and the legends Rapper Big Pooh, Kid Vishis, and Royce da 5’9″.
I tell em aim for the sky like a starter pistol
Even if your momma too young to be bothered with ya
Babies having babies watching hoods get slaughtered, like we in the corner sipping a carton of Flint water
An aspect of Room 39 which helps round it out are the skits. Named after a secretive economic organization in North Korea, the whole album is shrouded in a mysterious, threatening tone; Ty is pulling the strings on these streets. All of this being said, there are still plenty of signature Ty Farris songs where he just bars out (“Live From Room 39”, “Feel Nothing”, “Maintain n Survive”). He does have some subtly more aggressive and faster flows on here than on other projects, as well as one’s where he slows down and reflects, keeping it interesting across a full listen. Otherwise he delivers all the wordplay and tough talk we love him for. There are also songs like “I Can’t Even Cry” and “Product of My” where we get a dark portrait of the city and what it does to a man. Overall, despite Ty’s growth as an artist over the years, Room 39 holds up as one of his very best projects given its cohesion and subtle variety. In addition to part 2 of this album, we can’t wait to see him continue this run.