Ty Dolla $ign emerged in 2010 as the writer and hook-smith on “Toot It and Boot It,” a gleeful track by the rapper YG. The song demonstrated Ty’s musical chops — he managed to transform a sample of the Association’s Sixties sunshine pop into modern G-Funk — and introduced the world to the singer’s brash, lascivious persona: “I met her at the club, then I said wassup,” Ty croons. “I took her to the crib, and you know I fucked.”
Since then, Ty has released music at a remarkable rate (highlights include his Beach House 1 & 2 mixtapes), collaborated with everyone from DJ Quik to Charli XCX and Kanye West, become a go-to remixer of pop hits, and earned his own crossover success with the sleek 2013 smash “Paranoid.” His major-label debut album, Free TC, finally arrived last week; the project is dedicated to Ty’s brother TC, who is currently serving a prison term.
Rolling Stone spoke with the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter about collaborating with Babyface, being ahead of the curve and his interest in EDM.
The release date for this album was pushed back a few times — was there a reason for that?
I felt like people wanted it to come out because “Paranoid” was hot and “Or Nah” was hot, but I had to let them know, shit’s still going to be hot. Let me marinate on the album and make sure it comes out perfect. We had to wait until I felt like it was perfect. And that’s November 13th.
But then you also dropped the Airplane Mode mixtape out of the blue.
That came from me reading my comments: Everybody was pissed a little bit because when we finally announced the album’s official date, that was two months before the album. They’re like, “Fuck, man, we need to hear some new shit!” So I’m like, “Alright, I got y’all.” So I put some shit out on October 13th, exactly a month before [the album]. Some of the songs were short, and people were pissed about that in the comments. They’re like, “What the fuck, man? I’m thinking my shit is broken, and it keeps on skipping to the next song!” I’m like, “Nah, I did that on purpose because I didn’t want to wear your ears out before the album.” I’ll come back after the album with the complete songs of whichever ones I felt like people really loved. And some more new shit. We do music all the time. I just let the people know: Never be worried. There’s always going to be the next shit. Nobody should worry ever. I’ma be here.