Ty Dolla $ign started racking up hits at the dawn of the 2010s, first with one of his many featured appearances and then with headlining singles on which his sly, explicitly hedonistic style of contemporary R&B was put on full display. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, born Tyrone Griffin, Jr. — the son of Tyrone Griffin, a musician who played with Lakeside and Teena Marie — started making moves the previous decade in his native Los Angeles. As one half of Ty & Kory, the younger Griffin appeared on Sa-Ra’s The Hollywood Recordings, Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, and Shafiq Husayn’s Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka, as well as Black Milk’s Popular Demand.
Griffin reached the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in 2010, when he provided the hook for YG’s “Toot It and Boot It.” A pivotal moment, it preceded constant studio activity that resulted in solo and collaborative output issued throughout the decade. In 2013, Griffin made his major-label debut on Atlantic with “Paranoid,” which eventually went platinum. “Or Nah,” the follow-up, became his second single to hit the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs chart, and quickly went multi-platinum. Additional singles and appearances on commercial and underground releases alike led to the November 2015 release of Free TC, his debut album. Dedicated to his incarcerated brother, the guest-loaded set debuted at number 14 on the Billboard 200, boosted by “Blasé,” “Saved,” and “Wavy,” all certified gold or platinum tracks.
During the next two years, Griffin branched out stylistically as an accessory to pop hits such as Fifth Harmony’s “Work from Home,” the Suicide Squad: The Album smash “Sucker for Pain,” and Jason Derulo’s “Swalla.” Major Lazer and Nick Jonas were also among the artists who enlisted his services, though these pop and club efforts were balanced out with assists for the likes of Fat Joe, 2 Chainz, and Meek Mill. As lead artist, the commercial mixtape Campaign arrived just ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and became a Top 30 hit, highlighted by “No Justice,” a sober protest song recorded with his still-jailed brother. Beach House III, Griffin’s second proper album, was teased with genre-hopping singles involving Lil Wayne and the-Dream (“Love U Better”), and Damian Marley and Skrillex (“So Am I”). ~ Andy Kellman