Ty Dolla Sign Takes on Times Square with VIBE Vixen

Turn on “Paranoid” or “Or Nah”  and you may think singer Ty Dolla $ign is a jerk. He sings about proudly thieving girlfriends, running into one too many baes in one night and having more toot it and boot it trysts than he can keep count of. But after spending time with the beatsmith you see that despite the lascivious lyrics, 29-year-old Tyrone Griffin, Jr. is quite the charmer.

As we navigated through the crowded sidewalks of an illuminated Times Square on a humid Thursday night, Mr. $ign was very in tune with his comedic side. Between talking about his debut album Free TC  and upcoming Sign Language mixtape, the lyrist behind Chris Brown’s  “Loyal” channeled his inner Michael Blackson and spoke in a pseudo-African accent as he cracked jokes about the passersby and his favorite thing: women.

“The white women in New York have ass!” he said with surprise under his counterfeit cadence.

While his debut album is anticipated, Ty didn’t say much about its composition because it frankly just isn’t ready. It’s title salutes his younger brother, Big TC, who is serving a life sentence that this older brother promises he didn’t do. So far, it’s slated for a November release and there are eight songs ready but Ty says he’s “still trying to erase those.”

Whether he keeps those songs or nah, Ty seems unbothered. Throughout our time together, the Los Angeles native had a serene spry.  Ty’s personality has the same mesmerizing allure as his Ratchet&B catalog. His charm captures you the same way his raunchy lyrics and impressive instrumentation do, which occasionally boasts violins, drums and bass guitar rhythms sometimes played by Ty himself.  While trying not to get lost in his light green, sleepy eyes, Mr. $ign spoke to me about his forthcoming projects, living in Brooklyn a few years back and what his parents say about his music. —Tanay Hudson

All Photo Credits: Stacy-Ann Ellis


The Beach House Tour Experience

“Just orgies. This one Caucasian woman was mad because she couldn’t get on the bus for some reason. Then all of a sudden she was just like “I don’t wanna get on your nigger bus anyway!” and then this black girl just took off on her, just ‘bing! bing! bing! bing!’ and it was over for her and her boyfriend. That was in Chico, CA.”

Sign Language mixtape

“It’s gonna be crazy. So much good shit. I got Wiz on there, French Montana, Yo Gotti, RJ, Fabolous, Big Sean, Mike Posner, Jeremih, Dom Kennedy, Juicy J. It’s a mixtape so I got a mix of shit going on. I gotta bring everybody to my world and we went stupid.”

Free TC

“It’s different because the music is more quality. This time I just said, ‘fuck it, it's summer time.’ Everybody is about to put out this uptempo music so I just made a lot of slow shit and vibe-y shit. I want everybody to love it. I’m trying to go against everybody in music. Everybody copies. I hate to sound like that but people are biting, you know? I wanted to do something different. If I didn’t write with them or if I’m not their homie and it sounds like my shit then they’re biting.”

“There’s going to be less features on the album. I don’t know who is going to make it in the end. With the mixtapes me and the homies be in the studio and it's like ‘let’s do this’ and ‘let’s do this’ and we put it on the tape. Then that way I get to do my samples and all that other shit that I like to do. But the album is going to be less samples and more of us playing.”

Other producers: DRUG$, D. Miles, FKI, Done Deal, C Gutta.

Favorite song on $ign Language mixtape

“In Too Deep” with my brother BIG TC and TeeCee 4800. Me, D. Mile and Peter Lee Johnson  made a beat to it using violins, piano and me playing the bass. It’s about being in too deep in these streets and shit getting hectic. If it was me I woulda said 'In too deep in yo bitch!'”

His brother TC’s Instagram (TC is currently serving a life sentence in a Level four prison but somehow had a smartphone)

“It had to get taken down. He went fame crazy. He got Instagram and started putting hella videos up. The night we did the song that is on my Sign Language mixtape they came in there and took the phone. But he’s definitely on Sign Language and will be on the album.”

Side Note: You might have heard Big TC before. He was featured on YG's "Thank God Interlude" on his debut album, My Krazy Life.

Dream Collaborations

“I want to work with Meshell Ndegeocello, Prince, I just talked to Bilal yesterday. We’re about to work. I wanna work with John Mayer.”

Favorite Collaborator

“Lupe was incredible. That nigga went in the studio when we did that song “Next to It” and laid the whole verse from top to bottom freestyle off the top of the head. I’m talking all the verses. I was like ‘whoa!’ He’s on the album, too.”

How His Parents Feel About His Music

Ty’s path as a musician was heavily inspired by his dad, who's worked with Rick James and played in the 70's band Lakeside.

“My dad is playing on Sign Language. He’s on everything. [Dad would describe my music as] genius. He just loves it. He loves to see me doing what I do. I don’t think mom all the way believed in me but pops always did. He bought me shit.”

On the other hand, Ty says his mother wanted him to do real estate like she does and not music. “Probably because she doesn’t like my dad,” he laughed. Now that he is reaching stardom he says all his mother tells him is, “Make sure you make time to go see your grandparents.”

Living in Brooklyn, NY

“I lived there for like a year. I couldn’t take it. I loved it but when winter time came around, whoa! I was with this taxi driver once and he was taking me to the airport and the snow got too high and he said get out. I was like what nigga? He said, ‘Get out nigga I’m not playing with you!’ and turned around and pulled a pistol on me! I didn’t have a pistol that day because I was going to the airport. I moved after that. I lived in Flatbush by Brownsville.”

Favorite Places to Eat in L.A.

“I like A1 Burgers, Umami Burgers, Master Burger. Tam’s Burgers is that YG shit. I don’t fuck with Tam’s. That shit make you shiiitt!”

Favorite Shopping Spots in L.A.

“I support Pink Dolphin on whatever they do. I been wearing Supreme lately. Of course I always fuck with Vans. I haven’t really got out to do much shopping lately. I just been working. Studio, studio, studio, show, show, show.

Talents Outside of Music

“I can draw, paint and fix shit around the house. I know how to make girls come real easy (laughs).”

Worst Date

“I called a girl a bitch and she was driving and she put me out on the freeway. She did some bitch ass shit.” (He wouldn’t reveal what she did.)

Biggest Turn Off

“A girl with a chipped tooth or like stank breath. Stank breath is the biggest. She might be fine as hell with a chipped tooth and you might overlook it. But like even if she’s fine as fuck and she opens her mouth and her breath is foul, it’s over.”

Romantic Evening with Ty$

“All the good shit. All the baller shit. I can cook, too. I can barbeque. Fish, chicken, steak whatever you wanna do.”

Deal Breaker in a Relationship

“If I find out you used to fuck with one of the homies and all of my homies are the fucking rappers and all these dudes. So if you fucked any of those dudes I don’t wanna fuck with you like that.”

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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