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. $ign spoke to me about his forthcoming projects, living in Brooklyn a few years back and what his parents say about his music. —Tanay Hudson
All Photo Credits: Stacy-Ann Ellis
The Beach House Tour Experience
“Just orgies. This one Caucasian woman was mad because she couldn’t get on the bus for some reason. Then all of a sudden she was just like “I don’t wanna get on your nigger bus anyway!” and then this black girl just took off on her, just ‘bing! bing! bing! bing!’ and it was over for her and her boyfriend. That was in Chico, CA.”
Sign Language mixtape
“It’s gonna be crazy. So much good shit. I got Wiz on there, French Montana, Yo Gotti, RJ, Fabolous, Big Sean, Mike Posner, Jeremih, Dom Kennedy, Juicy J. It’s a mixtape so I got a mix of shit going on. I gotta bring everybody to my world and we went stupid.”
“It’s different because the music is more quality. This time I just said, ‘fuck it, it’s summer time.’ Everybody is about to put out this uptempo music so I just made a lot of slow shit and vibe-y shit. I want everybody to love it. I’m trying to go against everybody in music. Everybody copies. I hate to sound like that but people are biting, you know? I wanted to do something different. If I didn’t write with them or if I’m not their homie and it sounds like my shit then they’re biting.”
“There’s going to be less features on the album. I don’t know who is going to make it in the end. With the mixtapes me and the homies be in the studio and it’s like ‘let’s do this’ and ‘let’s do this’ and we put it on the tape. Then that way I get to do my samples and all that other shit that I like to do. But the album is going to be less samples and more of us playing.”
Other producers: DRUG$, 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.
“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.”
“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.
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).”
“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.”