Ty Dolla $ign Talks ‘Free TC’ Album, Netflix & Chill And ’90s R&B: Idolator Interview
Ty Dolla $ign already established a name for himself in the urban arena ever since he popped up on YG‘s “Toot It And Boot It” back in 2010. Since then, the proud Los Angeles-bred singer (and occasional rapper) has dropped a slew of solid mixtapes that have led to his biggest effort to date and also one of the best LPs of 2015 — his debut Free TC album (released on November 13) that rightfully places him in the mainstream world.
I got the chance to catch up with the singer about his latest album, the personalization of music and what his ideal “Netflix & Chill” night would entail. Read on to see what Ty Dolla $ign had to say in our conversation below!
Your Free TC album was met with a few delays, so how do you feel now that it is finally out and it’s been getting so much love?
Ty Dolla $ign: I’m just glad that the people like the album, but more importantly I want to get my brother [Big TC] out. So I’ll feel good once that shit happens. I’m super happy about people loving the music! But the whole purpose is to free TC.
Speaking of the album it has a lot of different sounds to it. There’s funk, soul and acoustic with songs like “Solid.” Where did you find inspiration when making the record?
TD$: Just everything I’ve ever listened to. It’s all me this time, and I wasn’t concerned about making a hit — I wanted to make a good body of work. I picked all the songs that I thought could be received by everyone. Anywhere you go, there will be someone listening to one of those songs.
There are a ton of collaborations on this album, and my favorite is “Straight Up” with Jagged Edge. How did that come about? Because we haven’t heard from them in a while and you were the one to bring them back.
TD$: I grew up listening to Jagged Edge, that was my shit! My homie Poon knows them because he used to DJ out in Atlanta on the radio with Ludacris. So he hooked me up with Jagged Edge, and they were down to do it. So I was like, “Fuck yea, I’m putting Jagged Edge on my album!” I also got Babyface, R. Kelly and Brandy — all of my favorite people. It wasn’t about doing what everybody else does.
And what I like is there are a lot of guest artists, but it’s still a Ty Dolla $ign album. The features don’t take away from your style.
TD$: Yea, I still did me and brought them into my world. I’m super happy for everybody being down. The reason why I was able to bring so many people in was because everyone was down with the message of what I was trying to do. Just spreading awareness about social injustice and mass incarceration and how fucked up it is. We’re going to change the world together with this album.
The album has a lot of meaning threaded throughout, and I would say “Miracle” is the most personal song on the record.
TD$: I’m not gonna lie, when I listen to it I almost tear up. That shit’s crazy, and I think everybody else feels the same way. [The song] definitely catches you off guard. And it’s true, it is a miracle. Even though we’ve been through so much, we are still doing all of this. And as long as you keep on going, you will be able to as well.
You’re album has 16 tracks on it, and I’ve noticed that a lot of artists nowadays like Kendrick Lamar, Fetty Wap and even Justin Bieber have been releasing longer projects. This generation has such a short attention span, so was that a conscious decision so that people would listen from start to finish?
TD$: Well I first dropped Airplane Mode because everyone was waiting for Free TC for so long, and we announced it two months before it was time [to release] — and people were pissed! So I was like, “Alright, guess what? I do music everyday little motherfuckers [laughs]!” BAM, I did eight songs in one day. The other two I already had, so I put it out and everybody loved it. But they were kind of ticked off because I made some of the songs like a minute and 30 seconds or two minutes. It was just one verse, a hook and a little bit of music. That was on purpose as well because I knew I had an album coming out and I didn’t want to kill off the album. The record company only pays you for ten songs, but I was like “fuck that” because I had more music for people to hear. We just figured it out and it ended up being 16.
And this album has a lot of sexy “Netflix & Chill” moments, so I’m curious to know what a romantic night will Ty Dolla $ign would be like!
TD$: Well now it’s all at the crib because if I go out for dinner I’d have to bring a security with me. So she would just come through, I’ll be getting down in the kitchen. She’ll be eating some good food while having some laughs and smoking good weed. If she doesn’t smoke, that’s cool — I’ll just smoke. Just drinks and something good to watch. Maybe we won’t even watch anything, we’ll just listen to music and have conversation. If it ends up on some other shit, that’s between me and her! [laughs]
Seeing how you’ve been in this game for a while, do you have anyone you’re keeping eyes on? Who is going to be the next big thing?
TD$: MADEINTYO and Royce Rizzy, they have this thing called The Private Club in Atlanta and that’s who I listen to everyday in the car. I want to see them end up crazy. Also Lil Uzi Vert, he’s from Philly and he’s signed to DJ Drama. He’s amazing — he just dropped a tape so everyone should check out his Soundcloud. TeeCee4800 is from the West Coast and he’s actually my little cousin. He’s coming through Dolla $ign World and you’ve heard him on YG’s album and he’s on the song “Only Right” with me.
I know Free TC has been your priority, but what are some of your favorite albums that came out this year?
TD$: I loved Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s album, I listen to that all the time. I like Travi$ Scott’s album for sure, he killed it. Also Justin Bieber, the tape that Diddy just dropped, Drake and Future’s mixtape…I mean, I can go on forever! Oh, Raury is my favorite new artist. Eska too, she’s this girl from Africa and she is amazing. I’ve also been listening to a lot of old-school music like Anita Baker’s Rapture [laughs]. What are you listening to? Let me write some shit down!
I like Justin Bieber’s album, and I’ve been blasting Rae Sremmurd’s album ever since it came out! I love them. Pop-wise, I love Carly Rae Jepsen and Major Lazer too.
TD$: Carly Rae Jepsen? I never heard of her, that’s new for me.
She’s great. And I know this is fairly new but Pusha T’s new single is so dope.
TD$: Yea that shit is hard. He’s always been a beast, man.
You always been known for singing very explicit lyrics with tracks that have very melodic production, and it’s a good balance that not a lot people can pull off. So what’s your secret?
TD$: It’s called sauce! [laughs] I got the sauce!
So this is a fun question for you, if you could be in any R&B group which would you choose? I think I would pick Dru Hill!
TD$: Jodeci, for sure! [laughs] Dru Hill was the new Jodeci, you feel me? So I’ll stick with the original. Wait, change that. I’m gonna pick Milli Vanilli!
Is it because of your hair?
TD$: Yes! [laughs]