In one word, Ty Dolla $ign is versatile. Not only has he shown different sides of his sound through his own chart-topping singles, his vocals have complemented hits by Fifth Harmony, Post Malone and Megan Thee Stallion. “I saw a tweet where someone said, ‘Ty’s voice is like fucking hot sauce, it’s good on anything,’” Ty explains. “I was like, ‘What am I doing on these other songs that I haven’t been doing on my albums?’ With my new album, I made sure to include all the frequencies of my voice and whatever I was giving away to Kanye or Mustard, I made sure to have it covered.”

Ty has been working on his follow-up to “Beach House 3” for three years, during which time he has been mulling over a plan to make this his biggest success to date. Initially, he’d announced it would be titled “Dream House,” to correspond with his “Beach House” trio. Yet, just a few weeks before the album’s release, Ty changed the name to “Featuring Ty Dolla $ign,” breaking the cycle and leaning into the success of his feature work.

Photos by Travis Shinn

Photos by Travis Shinn

“Featuring Ty Dolla $ign” began as a rough concept and Ty admits there were roughly 700 songs on the cutting room floor. Being locked down because of the pandemic pushed him to narrow in on his vision. Personal tragedy struck Ty in April, but within his sorrow, he found inspiration. “I lost my grandmother in the pandemic,” Ty shares. “When my parents broke up and my mom and I weren’t seeing eye-to-eye, they sent me to live with my grandmother. She was the cool grandmother that let me smoke weed in the house, invite whoever I wanted over, and have my studio in the back room. She’s the reason I was able to fully find myself as an artist and you can definitely feel the pain in the album.”

Ty not only got real about the passing of his grandmother in this project, he also shed light on the loss of one’s sense of self in the album’s lead single “Ego Death.” This song came together piece-by-piece over two years. “I was at a little house party and this DJ played the bass line, which comes from a song called ‘Da Soul Track’ by Methodology,” Ty says. “I’d never heard of it and I looked on Apple Music, Spotify—but it wasn’t there.” He eventually found the song on YouTube and after sampling it, he recorded his vocals, added some vocals by Brooklyn’s Serpentwithfeet, and let it be so he could head to Chicago to help Kanye West on his 2019 album “Jesus Is King.”

In the studio, between takes recording their track “Everything We Need,” he showed the first draft of “Ego Death” to West. “He jumped out of his chair and went crazy,” Ty explains. “As soon as the part of the song was like, ‘Hold up, there’s a train going by,’ everyone in the room was dying laughing. Right after that, he grabbed the little stage mic and he laid some little ad lib parts, as well as his verse.” Getting West on the track wasn’t the end of Ty’s work, there were still two major features to add—the genre-ambiguous FKA twigs and the biggest DJ on the planet, Skrillex. “I started it in 2018, and leaked some of it in 2019 when I did Coachella,” Ty says. “I didn’t feel like it was complete until recently and the subject matter was great for everything that was going on. No matter how much money you have, who you were or what your situation was, there was no way to escape the pandemic. It was full ego death—for everyone.”

Photos by Travis Shinn

Photos by Travis Shinn

Not every song on Ty’s album has deep meaning, some just want you to get down and have a good time. “Expensive,” his collaboration with engineer James Royo, is a perfect example. “We came up with this beat and as soon as I had the vocals on it, I was like, ‘Yo, I need Nicki Minaj,’” Ty shares. “I look at Nicki Minaj’s voice and what it means to the 2000s the same way I look at what Kenny G’s saxophone did for the ’90s. You had to have that in order for your record to have the frequency. So I DMed her, she got right back to me, and we made the song happen—it was literally a three-day thing.”

In Ty’s time on the scene, he’s worked with everyone and made connections that will last a lifetime, all of which is seen throughout “Featuring Ty Dolla $ign.” Many of the people he’s been working alongside for years have found success in their own right and Ty is all about lifting up the people around him. “It’s been dope seeing everyone around me level up, like Mustard, James Royo—it’s a beautiful thing,” Ty says. “One of my songs features Jhené Aiko, she’s from L.A. and I’ve known her whole family since I was a kid—I was happy to see that come full circle.”

Back in December 2017, we spoke to Ty Dolla $ign shortly after he had released “Beach House 3” and asked him who he’d like to work with in the future. He said Kid Cudi and in 2020, that dream became a reality. “I made a couple of songs with Kid Cudi,” Ty says. “One of the songs made the album and we’ve got some other stuff cooking. Shout-out to Cudi, he’s one of my favorite artists and shout-out to Ye for linking us up.”

Photos by Travis Shinn

Photos by Travis Shinn

Ty has put his heart and soul into this project, bringing in music’s finest to make this album the best it can be for his fans. He recognizes that his fanbase is more diverse than most artists on the charts, as he’s branched out across pop, R&B and rap over the years, but hopes that anyone can find their song from the track list. “I covered all bases,” Ty explains. “I gave the original Ty Dolla fans what they wanted, all the way into who I am now. I listened to it in front of my girl, my mom, my daughter—so I’m truly sure of every line on this album and, hopefully, it gives people something uplifting.”

Ty’s career has thrived thanks to his collaborations in the recording studio. Recently, he delved into uncharted waters for a totally different type of collab. “I tattooed Nene, my tattoo artist,” Ty says. “I gave him the ‘THMVMNT’ logo and I only fucked up on the nose—but for the most part it looks good. It was definitely hectic, because it’s permanent and there were seven people standing over my head trying to coach me. But it was fun and I’ll definitely do it again.”

With his third album, “Featuring Ty Dolla $ign,” out and available to the masses, now Ty is on to the next big thing. He’s someone who’s always 12 steps ahead of the trends, and who knows? By this time next year we may be talking to him about starring in a major motion picture or launching a fashion empire. Whatever the future holds, we’re betting our money on the Almighty Dolla.

Photos by Travis Shinn

Photos by Travis Shinn