25. “Still Sippin” feat Kirko Bangz (2013)
“Still Sippin” finds Ty in the latter stages of an epic drug bender—codeine, molly, weed, and whatever else he can get his hands on. The presence of FKi and Kirko Bangz, of woodblock hits and droopy electric piano, imbue the track with a distinctive Texas flavor.
24. “Irie” feat Wiz Khalifa (2013)
In the summer of 2013, Ty decided to bring his weed-smoking talents to Taylor Gang. His first act as a member: making “Irie” with Wiz Khalifa. This song is a celebration of their alliance, a toast to prosperity and carefree living, the musical equivalent of two pals chiefin’ down a sack of KK. Wood makes good ships, metal makes great ships, but the best ship is friendship.
23. “4 A Young” feat. Iamsu (2012)
“I’m not against [being in love],” he said in his 2014 Fader cover story. “When I see people like Wiz and Amber, they just be FaceTiming and shit—I want that. I love seeing love. I had this one girl that I was really tryna go hard with, but it wasn’t it. I really was on my faithful shit but once I broke out of it, I just went wild. And then I made Beach House 1, you know what I’m saying?”
22. “Intro” feat. Jay 305 / ”NDK” feat. Big Sean
Perhaps Ty’s most underrated attribute is the quality of the first song on each of his projects. There’s “Airplane Mode,” “Work,” “LA”—and then there’s “Intro/NDK,” the florid leadoff track on his 2014 mixtape $ign Language. There is little in the way of drums beyond a heartbeat pulse. D’Mile, Ty’s secret weapon, fills the space first with a violin cascade, then introduces rich vocal harmonies as juicy as the first bite into a peach. Ty expounds on how he’s got the sauce, how it’s been marinating for years, and how it’s a recipe that can’t be duplicated overnight.
21. “Float” feat. Iamsu & Terrace Martin (2013)
“Float” is diametrically opposed to “Cinderella.” This time, sex is not simply casual, it is as frictionless as it is thrilling to the senses. Ty emanates a lightness of being as he spends his verse delighting in the female form. “She got that wet, SeaWorld / and I dive in the pussy like Shamu, girl,” he coos.
20. “Work” feat. Nate Howard, Casey Veggies, & Twista (2014)
“Work” is seven minutes long and never once grows stale. Ty’s crisp songwriting style takes the form of encouragement for girls to “come get this work,” which he delivers amidst D’Mile’s loose interpretation of the Santa Ana winds: a warm, gentle gust of hums, piano plinks, swooping strings, and crisp horn blasts. Five minutes in, the listener is abruptly transported to at tense nocturnal scene that climaxes with a dizzying Twista verse.
19. Fifth Harmony – “Work From Home” feat. Ty Dolla $ign (2016)
Ty’s guest-turn on “Work From Home” courts perfection. His sandpaper tenor, scratchy as a five o’clock shadow, offers texture to twinkling, post-Mustard pop confection. His verse is built on thinly veiled metaphor, which is exactly what this song called for. Without Ty, does this single crack the top five of the Hot 100?
18. Puff Daddy & The Family – “You Could Be My Lover” feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Gizzle (2015)
When it comes to surrounding himself with talented folks, Diddy may well be a genius. (See: Last Train to Paris.) In 2015, he rebranded himself for the umpteenth time, this time as Puff Daddy, and released a mixtape titled MMM. The tape reaches its creative apex on “You Could Be My Lover,” which Diddy builds around the core of a slapped bass groove accompanied by a “traditional R&B” Dolla $ign, a duo with more chemistry than Stockton and Malone.
17. “Solid” feat. Babyface (2015)
At no point does Free TC feel overproduced. This is especially true of “Solid,” a stripped-down coffeehouse duet that features Ty Dolla on bass and R&B legend Babyface on guitar. Evidently, the two of them were jamming in the studio one late night, came up with this mighty fine joint, and figured it couldn’t possibly be improved upon. Save for a few touches from OG Michael Jackson strings expert, Benjamin Wright, and here we have it.
16. “No Justice” feat. Big TC (2016)
Though Campaign is ostensibly Ty’s political treatise, “No Justice” is the only song on the project that’s really political at all. His brother Gabriel “TC” Griffin, who is serving life in prison, lends his sorrowful tenor to the opening verse. On the second verse, Ty delivers the most politically charged lyrics of his entire career: “They say that, we all created equal but ain’t nothing about us equal / You know that there can never be no justice when killing us is legal.”
15. “Ratchet In My Benz” feat. Juicy J (2013)
“Rachet In My Benz” ranks up there with T-Pain’s “69” as one of the greatest songs about car sex ever. D.R.U.G.S. producer Buddah Shampoo first lays down an unintelligible, but highly satisfying, vocal sample that he has chipmunk’d, chopped, and slopped every which way. Ty offers some backstory of his relationship with a certain girl. Then, Buddah removes the sample and introduces a simple string pad and snare quarter note pulse. The stakes feel suddenly heightened; the atmosphere grows warm, and Ty brings ‘er home — towards the inevitable conclusion, in the backseat of his Benz.
14. “Saved” feat. E-40 (2015)
In 1993, E-40 spoke of Captain Save a Hoe, the desperate man who falls victim to women seeking to take advantage of his wealth and generosity. Twenty-two years later, E-40 made a guest appearance on “Saved,” the impossibly catchy Free TC single in which he and Ty denounce everything that Captain Save a Hoe stands for.
13. “Violent” (2015)
Ty draws on a wide swathe of producers, from pop craftsmen like DJ Mustard and Norweigian duo Stargate to his D.R.U.G.S. collective to the Atlanta trap syndicate. On “Violent,” Southside and DJ Spinz cook up a maelstrom of a beat over which Ty revels in his ignorance. “Momma keep telling me that I smoke too much,” he sings, “my girl tell me, ‘Nigga blow that shit out the window.’”
12. “Stand For” (2014)
Atlantic floated “Stand For” as the first single from Free TC nearly a year before the album came out. It didn’t catch, despite lustrous electronic-tinged production from DJ Dahi and Diplo that recalled Ty’s Skrillex-sampling breakout “My Cabana.” This is a good example of Ty’s songwriting style: blunt, laconic, with a hook that treats the keyphrase as a quadruple entendre—in this case, explores the various principles, people, and actions that Ty “stands for.”
11. “Or Nah” feat. The Weeknd & Wiz Khalifa (2014)
“Or Nah” makes use of one of DJ Mustard’s more gothic beats, though the bed squeak effect imbues with a strong sexual character that the song builds off of with gusto. The music video for the remix, which added The Weeknd, has been viewed 337 million times.
10. “Zaddy” (2016)
Not surprisingly, the word “Zaddy” is uttered no less than 44 times on “Zaddy,” the most enduring single that Campaign produced. It features more than one hallmark of Ty’s music, including talkbox (and production from) Juilliard phenom Jahaan Sweet, seductive strokes of USC violinist Peter Lee Johnson, who Ty once described as playing the violin like he plays “his bitch pussy.”
9. “My Cabana” (2012)
“My Cabana” explores Ty’s desire to pack his cabana (Or is it a palapa? Paging Erlich Bachman) with lovely women of every creed. “How many girls can I fit in my cabana?” he muses. It reads like an SAT question. “Probably about like 12 or 13 [girls fit in the cabana],” he estimated in a 2012 interview with Complex. “14 maybe. If they’re a little thick, like 10. The skinny ones, maybe I can get like 15 in there.”
8. “Straight Up” feat. Jagged Edge (2015)
In order to clear a sexy AF Patrice Rushen sample, Ty had to purge “Straight Up” of any profanity, per Rushen’s request. This is unfamiliar territory for Ty, but as on profanity-free “No Justice,” working within these parameters forces him to think more creatively lyrically.
7. “LA” feat. Kendrick Lamar, Brandy, & James Fauntleroy (2015)
“LA” is the Free TC establishing shot; It introduces us to Ty’s world. A noted talkbox enthusiast, he enlisted veteran producer/Roger Zapp heir apparent Battlecat to lay down some talkbox heat. During another session, in which he was working on “Wherever,” Ty bought a talkbox for Terrace Martin and gave it a whirl himself before Martin showed up.
“It was annoying—drool kept on coming out when I was playing,” Ty recalled to HNHH in 2015. “And I was like, ‘Terrace, you can do it.’ And, uh, he doesn’t know, he played in the same tube, I just cleaned it off. Because, nobody was up that late to bring a new tube, so I didn’t tell him, you feel me, I just cleaned it off. But I don’t got nothing nigga, you straight. I wasn’t eating no pussy that day.”
6. YG – “Toot It & Boot It” feat. Ty Dolla $ign (2009)
“Toot It & Boot It” is what put Ty Dolla $ign on the map. Known for his bass guitar chops, one would have thought he laid down this immaculate bass line himself, but in truth, he sampled if from the ‘60s California surf band The Association. In the end, he gave the song to YG to help him secure a major label deal. Ty’s major label deal would come a couple years later.
5. “Blasé” feat. Future & Rae Sremmurd (2015)
4. “Horses In The Stable” (2015)
Ty insists that “Horses in the Stable” empowers women by comparing them to thoroughbred stallions: powerful, mysterious, bodacious. Regardless of the validity of this argument, the song is, like the women it describes, aesthetically flawless.
3. “Never Be The Same” feat. Jay Rock (2014)
Ty rarely expresses concern, and his brief admission of “the trouble the money and fame brings” provides “Never Be The Same” a certain depth, perspective, and sense of nostalgia that isn’t always typically present in his music. Co-produced by Ty and the G.O.D. D’Mile, the song features a wash of 8-bit synths and a sunset guitar, as well as an emphatic verse from ultra-consistent TDE representative Jay Rock.
2. “Paranoid” feat. Joe Moses (2013)
There are three versions of “Paranoid,” the song that gave us the term “boogawolf.” The first appeared on DJ Mustard’s Ketchup mixtape and featured the homie Joe Moses. The second replaced Moses with a questionable B.o.B verse. The third replaced B.o.B with Trey Songz and French Montana.
Official “Paranoid” rankings:
- Joe Moses
1. “Miracle/Wherever” feat. Big TC & D-Loc (2015)
“Have you ever had a family member die?” Ty said in a 2015 Noisey interview. “It’s basically that. He’s basically dead. It’s like hell, almost. A living hell. Luckily, you can reach out and you can go see him, but it’s like, he’s basically dead. It’s like if a family member dies. I want him back, man.”
Free TC is a tribute to Ty’s incarcerated brother, and its centrepiece, “Miracle,” pulls one of his bittersweet compositions off a grainy YouTube clip and brings it to life in the studio (s/o D’Mile, again). The song reunites not only Ty and his brother, but their younger sister, a vocalist, and father, a trumpeter. The phrase “miracle,” while probably overused, was genuinely invented to describe unforgettable, improbable moments like these.