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Amid COVID-19, Ty Dolla Sign is making club bangers minus the clubs

"Not being able to go to a club or to a concert — go anywhere — is definitely a big burden," says Ty Dolla Sign.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

One of rap and R&B’s most consistent hitmakers, L.A.-based singer, songwriter and producer Ty Dolla Sign has been a welcome chart presence for a decade, both on his own and with top-tier stars including Lil Wayne, Post Malone, the Weeknd, Drake and local standouts YG and Mustard. His forthcoming album, “Dream House,” features famous friends Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, FKA Twigs and countless more.

The artist, born Tyrone Griffin Jr., spoke with The Times from the patio of his L.A. home.

In Nirvana’s copyright dispute with Marc Jacobs over its smiley-face logo, the band said Kurt Cobain created it. Now, their art director says he did.

Describe your album in three words.
Sounds like growth.

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There are so many records coming out right now. Why should we stream “Dream House”?
I would say quality over quantity.

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For his new album, Los Angeles singer Ty Dolla Sign has moved from the “Beach House” of his early work to his “Dream House.”

How did COVID-19 change it?
I can’t get in front of people and perform. Everything went virtual. “Expensive” and “Ego Death,” two of the songs that dropped off the album, are very, I would say, club songs. Not being able to go to a club or to a concert — go anywhere — and perform them is definitely a big burden.

What were you listening to for inspiration?
I listened to a lot of Prince. I listened to a lot of J Dilla. I listened to a lot of Jaco Pastorius. A lot of Thundercat, a lot of Skrillex. And my guy James Royo, who produced half of the album with me — just listening to his beats and my beats going back and forth. Also, each Friday, I’ll check out whatever comes out. But I’ll always end up going back to Prince and J Dilla. All my favorite s—.

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What lyric from “Dream House” do you like the best?
“Nobody is truly yours / It’s just your turn,” from a track called “Your Turn.”

What track gave you the most trouble and why?
“Ego Death.” There are six different artists singing on the song — myself, Kanye West, FKA Twigs, Serpentwithfeet, Skrillex, my other homey Jehreeus — plus like five different samples, from the bass line to all the old 1990s house samples. So it was kind of difficult, paperwork-wise, to get everything cleared. The art of it is beautiful — how it came out. I love it, and it was worth it.

Vice of choice while making album?
[Holds up joint] The vice of choice was definitely the Mary Jane.

What are your plans for Nov. 3?
Hopefully having an election party for the new president.


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