Sitting on the patio of 287 Gallery in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, Ty Dolla $ign has a bit of downtime before he makes an appearance at the neighboring club Marquee for the launch event for the Stoli “Loud and Clear” campaign, of which he’s a part. In just a few days, the world will be greeted with his guest appearance on the surprise Beyoncé and Jay-Z album Love Is Everything, but he’s already celebrating his first number one single (Post Malone‘s “Psycho”) and three features on a chart-topping album (Kanye West’s Ye).
“It’s all positive vibes,” he says, as laidback and relaxed as his chilled-out reputation would suggest. “I try to block out the negative but I’m not going to act like everything’s perfect. There’s crazy shit going on every day in this crazy world, but you gotta just learn how to be positive and be yourself with no compromise.”
These days, Ty Dolla $ign has enough to keep him busy and away from the negative. As a double threat rapper and singer, he’s become an inescapable presence in the rap, pop and R&B worlds, and is quickly becoming the go-to producer and writer for club-ready hooks. Beyond his guest appearances, he keeps a tight focus on his own career. His album Beach House 3 was recently re-released as a deluxe edition, featuring the new single “Pineapple” with Gucci Mane and Quavo, and later this year, he’ll release the collaborative project MihTy with singer Jeremih, which was an unplanned, happy musical accident.
“Me and Jeremih got together a couple months ago to write for some other people, but we ended up coming up with 60 songs and not even showing the other people the songs because they were so fire,” he explains with a laugh. The first MihTy single, “The Light,” is out now and previews the funky fusion of their two styles.
Another big collaborator this year has been Kanye West. Ty Dolla $ign has been a valuable addition to West’s rotating cast of guests as he rolls out five albums in five weeks. Ty provided backing vocals and production work on Ye and Kids See Ghosts, West’s collaborative album with Kid Cudi. They also teamed up for a more surprising project: the lead single off Christina Aguilera’s first album in six years, Liberation. The trippy and energetic “Accelerate,” which also features 2 Chainz, was a departure from Aguilera’s more recent work and a huge treat for this long-time fan-turned-collaborator.
“I’ve loved Christina Aguilera ever since I was a kid, when that whole pop scene – her, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears – all came out. She for sure, out of all the females, was my favorite singer,” he recalls, citing her 2000 Christmas album My Kind of Christmas as “one of the greatest albums ever made.”
West and Ty had been working on the song prior to Aguilera’s recording sessions. “She invited me to her crib to come finish the record. It was dope. We just went in there and I just heard her do her shit live in person. I was like ‘What the fuck is this? It’s incredible!'”
An even unlikelier collaboration was Ty’s appearance on the controversial young rapper Bhad Bhabie’s latest single, “Trust Me.” It’s a new side for the rising teenaged star, who made waves after her appearance on Dr. Phil went viral. “I noticed some people in the comments were talking shit, but I feel like Bhad Bhabie is a fucking superstar,” Ty asserts. He admires the new, more vulnerable side of her that is showcased on the song. “It’s a movement.”
Ty Dolla $ign has a big summer ahead of him, including a tour with G-Eazy and forthcoming music videos for both “Pineapple” and “The Light.” As a credit to his own hitmaking capabilities, he keeps his finger to the pulse of what’s happening, happily listing off the artists and songs he’s obsessed with at the moment, including Jorja Smith, Kehlani, YG’s “Big Bank” and Ella Mai, whose song “Boo’d Up” is his official pick for this year’s Song of the Summer. “I’m happy to see her rise up,” he says of Mai, before proudly detailing every step of her career and how it’s led her to this R&B hit.
Outside of music, he’s focused on raising his 13-year-old daughter, who is about to enter eighth grade. He maintains a wide smile when talking about how hard-working she is, and how close they are to one another. “It’s funny the stories I hear from her; we keep it real and we talk about everything,” he offers with a laugh before adding a touch of paternal seriousness to his voice. “She’s telling me that girls at her school now are going to the bathroom smoking vape pens and shit. In fucking middle school! Crazy shit.”
He’s quick to place the irony of his own ire. “I’m King Weed, so what can I really say?” He mocks a faux-serious fatherly voice. “‘It’s for adults! Wait until you’re 18!'”
As for what’s next, he makes it clear that one number one single is not enough. “I want to get 100 of those,” he says before recalling his own trajectory.
“It just shows that anybody that believes in themselves can get whatever the fuck they want if they just stay with it. The first time people [heard] of me was in ’09 on ‘Toot It and Boot It‘ with YG, and that was made in my grandmother’s crib in the back room. Now we’re at the top of the Hot 100. I just want to make more.”