Hip-Hop

Ty Dolla $ign Aims for Megafame: 'There's No Ceiling for the Dolla'

Ty Dolla $ign, 2017
Koury Angelo

Ty Dolla $ign photographed on Aug. 15, 2017 at Nexus Social Lounge in Los Angeles.

Somewhere between his 2015 debut, Free TC, and this fall’s highly anticipated follow-up, Beach House 3, Ty Dolla $ign, the rugged R&B vocalist best known for icy club hits like “Paranoid” and “Or Nah,” decided to take a chance. Epic Records senior vp A&R Chris Anokute suggested he swallow his pride and wade into the pop world, contributing vocals to an in-progress version of Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home.”

Koury Angelo
Ty Dolla $ign photographed on Aug. 15, 2017 at Nexus Social Lounge in Los Angeles.

“I thought that shit sounded like the Rugrats,” jokes the 32-year-old, who is often lumped in with rappers due to his elastic singing cadences. “I was a little standoffish about doing that record because it’s not something I’d listen to in my car. That was my first time getting into the pop world, so I kind of doubted myself -- but it worked out.”

“Work From Home” became his biggest hit yet, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and opening a new lane for the South Central Los Angeles native. Collaborations with Bebe Rexha, Jason Derulo and Zara Larsson followed, setting the stage for the sonically varied Beach House 3. The album (features include YG) pushes Ty into more experimental territory, trying out “new reggae” (“So Am I”), off-kilter pop (“Stare”) and acoustic guitar balladry (“Famous”).

Koury Angelo
Ty Dolla $ign photographed on Aug. 15, 2017 at Nexus Social Lounge in Los Angeles.

“There’s no ceiling for the Dolla,” says Ty, who doesn't consider BH3 a crossover attempt (though it’s hard not to hear). “I’m just making music, and whether people like it, I love it, and I’ma keep on making music.” A single dad to 12-year-old daughter Jailynn, he has dialed back the vulgarity: “I’m definitely having to be that example now,” he admits. He’s also expanding his brand, launching record label The Movement with a roster including 24hrs and TeeCee4800. For now, BH3 marks a turning point. “I’ve been making music for fucking years, and then ‘Work From Home’ is my biggest song?” he says. “It is a great song. But I feel like I’ve made other, better songs that didn’t blow to the top. Keep on going, and it’ll happen for me.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2 issue of Billboard.