Ty Dolla $ign
Ty Dolla $ign is the unlikely star flying the flag for new age R&B. Born Tyrone Griffin, the Cali born musical all rounder has been putting the work in for a minute - the pieces of the puzzle only just coming together over the past couple of years. Talented producer, singer, songwriter and said to play every instrument that’s not made of brass, the 29 year old has gone from creating hits for Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, Trey Songz, DJ Mustard and YG to surging the charts with his own X-rated hip hop/R&B hybrids, in particular ‘Paranoid’ -storyboarding that awkward moment when both of your chicks happen to be in the same venue at the same damn time.

When we meet the dreaded one in London at his record label Atlantic – whom he eventually signed with but had the pick of all the majors - he’s sprawled across a sofa on his phone filling his homie in about his European adventures, “Paris was crazier, I think I almost broke the stage and shit.” It’s no wonder he’s not interested in the promo day, having backed a bottle of Jagermeister on stage the night before at his London gig before heading to his afterparty downing another, along with a litre or two of Bombay Sapphire for good measure. When our photographer turns up at his hotel the next morning he’s kind of clueless as to what’s going on as he poses with a teddy bear on his bed but still full of life as he half jokes he’s not up for topless snaps but totally into the idea of bottomless. And then there’s that mystery girls passport on the table of which he refuses to comment. We reckon it’s because he really doesn’t have a clue but there is a reason why he’s affectionately referred to as ‘The King Of Filth’.

“I thought that I fucking got home safe and I just went in the bed. They said I threw up in my hair; I kicked a girl out the car. There was a couple of girls that were fucking knocking at my hotel room ready to get down and I was just so fucking out of it.”

There is most definitely a party side to Ty, it’s sprawled all over his hype club music, he even lets us into the recipe for the perfect party, “Get the gender ratio right and then good drinks, good weed and you’re not having fun unless somebody gets kicked out.” And yes he is the same artist that sings about side bitches, having a pocket full of magnums and a ratchet in the Benz but he’s able to express different sides too, like on ‘Never Be The Same’ tracing his progression in the music industry. “I’m defo a workaholic. I’m just not there playing video games I’ve got to be productive. I don’t really have a problem with people’s opinions and what they think of me” the smoked out studio hermit drawls. Recently called in to work with Beyonce, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj on their forthcoming projects, it appears the work rate is paying off in a big way.

With a huge record collection, J Dilla, 2 Pac and a signed Digital Underground vinyl being his most prized possessions, he’s a true music lover, less interested in strip clubs and more inspired by the laid back LA lifestyle. “Just chilling on the beach, going skating, smoking good weed and there are a lot of beautiful ladies everywhere to keep you occupied. All the homies out here do music, so for me we’re doing music most of the time.”

Refusing to define himself as simply a rapper or singer, the multi talented musician has music in his blood, his father was part of a funk band and his uncle played with The Isley’s which saw Ty move into playing keys as a teenager and meeting greats including Earth, Wind and Fire. Not forgetting that time he spazzed out at Soul Train Awards when he came face to face with Kris Kross. “Kris Kross were like, ‘this nigga is wiling out, you just gotta be cool bruh, when you see niggas like this, just chill’” he laughs in disbelief; that was the last time he was starstruck.

The Taylor Gang member’ ‘Beach House’ mixtapes, both odes to women, drugs and partying proved the scene very much had his back pulling in features from Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa plus Jay Rock, Trey Songz and Chris Brown while YG and Young Jeezy assisted on the Zedd sampling smash, ‘My Cabana’. “I definitely think like old R&B is a different thing, I don’t think you can call this R&B but shit, singing is back, melodies are back and that’s a good thing because that’s what music is, it’s all about melodies.”

Lapped up nicely, recently released mixtape ‘Sign Language’ featured everyone from Ed Sheeran to Rich Homie Quan but Dolla’s debut album, ‘Free TC’ is about to hit our ears sooner than we think, and set to get slightly less ratchet. “Yeah there will be a couple of songs that see the other side of me and the production will be bigger and better. It’s dedicated to my little brother, he’s locked up and I’m gonna get him out and bring awareness to everyone that gets injustice. It’s gonna be a movie.” Kendrick Lamar, YG, Wiz Khalifa and Nicki Minaj are just a few of the features you can expect whilst production is handled by Ty and his production crew D.R.U.G.$ that includes DJ Mustard, Buddah Shampoo, Fuego, DJ Dahi and Nate 3D who produced the majority of ‘Beach House’ - “All the homies are doing their shit, you’ve gotta bring something to the table or you don’t eat.”

From session musician to producer and songwriter to solo artist, is this where Ty Dolla $ign always saw himself ending up, at the forefront? “Nah it’s never been about that. It’s always been about making good music and making people keep on partying,” he begins honestly with no hesitation before taking a less serious consideration. “I don’t care about the fame part, it’s good because people wanna just give you free clothes and wanna pay you to do some shit and give you some free weed but there’s always a catch, it’s never free.”

It’s not fame that Mr Griffin is interested in; it’s being in the history books and being hailed up with the best of the best that really gets him going. “Shit when you think of me, I want you to think of Quincy Jones or Jazzy Jeff or Dilla or Bach or Leonardo Da Vinci. One of the greatest ever that always kept on coming with shit that no one else was doing and you learn something from it, you go back, you listen and say, ‘I wanna do something like this’.”

No wonder then that individuality is crucial to Ty, so much so that when I ask him about copycat artists he rolls his eyes and neck in unison throwing the question back in my face, “Do you think people copy me?” It’s quite obvious there are names he could suggest but refusing to give them any more undeserved promo, politely holds back. “Just be yourself and once you do your own thing and you get rewarded from it, it’s much better than fucking knowing you copied somebody.”

Whether or not you rate his ratchet style you have to respect his grind, like seriously, what other singers do you know involved in BET Hip Hop Awards cyphers? It’s a new dawn for R&B as we know it and there’s a new type of poster boy.

“I’m glad for people like Wiz, he’s always got melodies, Ye, Drake, Kendrick, I’m glad that they’re like the hottest people out because it’s made it cool for a person like me to come in and do my thing because I’ve been doing my shit for a while but people just didn’t get it. That’s another thing about the music industry, there always has to be a place for something and I think that’s changing now. You don’t have to have a fucking six-pack with a perm top or be all buff to be in R&B now. There’s all different types of artists coming out, like me, Sam Smith, and shit we all look like regular people now so that’s cool.”


Ty Dolla $ign