Ty Dolla $ign might be hip-hop’s man of the moment, but it’s not the present that the 29-year-old crooner appears concerned with.
“I’m just trying to come up with the next chapter of music,” he says. He’s speaking from North Carolina, on a stop on his In Too Deep tour.
“When we first came out, our sound didn’t exist and now every artist has that sound,” he says. “That’s what tells us it’s time for the new chapter.”
The “We” Ty refers to consists of himself, rapper YG, and producer DJ Mustard, three Los Angeles natives whose self-described “ratchet” brand of hip-hop and R&B has dominated clubs and airwaves in 2014. Mustard has been churning out hits since 2011, when he broke out beyond his city with Tyga’s “Rack City.” YG had a coming out party of his own earlier this year with the release of his critically acclaimed album, “My Krazy Life.” And now, following the success of his Beach House mixtape series and a handful of high profile guest appearances, it’s Ty Dolla $ign’s turn under the bright lights.
After spending the Summer opening for his Taylor Gang labelmate Wiz Khalifa on the Under The Influence of Music tour, Ty Dolla $ign —his birth name is Tyrone Griffin — hopped directly into a tour of his own. But even in the midst of his first nationwide headlining tour, he’s been prepping the release of his upcoming major label debut, “Free TC.” It’s a project the Griffin hopes will showcase his evolving musical skill set.
“I’ve been experimenting with different snares and I’m switching drummers so there won’t be as many snaps. So just expect different sounds,” he says, before cutting himself short. “I’m not going to give away all my ideas, but it’ll be like when Jimi Hendrix went from the Experience to the Band of Gypsys.”
As to whether Atlantic Records approves of their signee moving away from the sounds that made him a bankable star, Griffin claims he and his label execs are on the same page.
“They get it,” he says. “They understand that it’s not about following the last hit that came out. It’s about putting out something new. We’re the trendsetters.”
The album title of "Free TC" is a nod to Griffin's younger brother TC, who is currently serving a life sentence behind bars for murder. Ty Dolla $ign says it’s a crime his brother did not commit and the album’s intention is to raise awareness for TC’s cause.
“It’s a statement and it’s literal,” he says of the title. “I’m taking the money from this album and I’m putting it into getting my brother out of jail and bringing awareness to everybody that gets injustice and gets forgotten about.”
Earlier this year, in an interlude recorded from his prison cell, TC appeared on YG’s album, "My Krazy Life."