By Paul de Revere
Tyrone Griffin Jr., better known as 28-year-old Los Angeles singer Ty Dolla $ign, is a hip-hop rarity. First, Griffin is actually a triple threat: a singer, producer and rapper known for “My Cabana” featuring Young Jeezy and his most recent single “Paranoid” with B.o.B off his latest Beach House EP. The EP is Griffin’s major label debut and a condensed iteration of sorts stemming from his Beach House mixtapes.
Second, as a producer, Ty Dolla $ign is a breath of fresh air in that he plays elements of his beats live rather than programmed.
“Bringing that sound with the snaps and 808s and the hi-hats was refreshing to people,” he said. “We’re making it loose again… I always like natural-sounding s**t better than computerized ‘boop boop.’”
Not that Ty Dolla isn’t down with some boop boop. But with his musical background, his affinity for the analog makes sense. Griffin’s father, Tyrone Griffin Sr., was a session musician for ’80s funk band Lakeside (of “Fantastic Voyage” fame). The funk tradition of the dominant bass line, eschewing programming for a human groove is one thing that sets Ty Dolla $ign’s sound apart from the pack, putting him next to a select few producers in the rap game (Mannie Fresh, Kanye West) that emphasize session players over digital sounds.