Can Ty Dolla $ign Finally Become the Star of His Own Show?

On Sunday (Feb. 25), Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign narrowly squeaked by Yeat to maintain their reign on the Billboard 200 for a second consecutive week with their collaborative Vultures 1 album. For Mr. West, this feat marks the first time since 2011’s Watch the Throne that he’s been able to have multiple weeks at No. 1, while for Ty, it’s the first No. 1 of any duration on the chart in his career. 

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As Yeezy continues to post star-level numbers, despite the backlash to his many recent controversies, this is new territory for his veteran crooner collaborator. After nine mixtapes, three collaborative EPs, and two solo albums, Ty finally has a No. 1 album on his resume. With nearly 15 years in the game, it’s a landmark win for Ty – but can it also be the start of something more for him as a solo star? 

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Throughout his career, Ty has proven himself to be the quintessential hook man, deftly elevating rap songs with his silky vocals and pinch of bravado. His first assist came in 2010 when he aided Cali cohort YG with his Def Jam debut single “Toot It and Boot It.” The record peaked at No. 67 on the Hot 100 and No. 12 on the Rap Songs charts, eventually earning platinum status from the RIAA. Following that early win, Ty showed he could also be a solo threat as a lead artist, scoring his first Hot 100 top 40 single in 2013 with “Paranoid” alongside producer DJ Mustard and guest rapper B.o.B. The combination of Mustard and Dolla $ign wreaked havoc again when partnered up on the titillating “Or Nah,” which peaked at No. 48 on the Hot 100 and saw The Weeknd and Wiz Khalifa join in on the remix. These singles were packaged into his excellent 2014 EP, Beach House – a filling appetizer, including notable features from a rookie-era Travis Scott and bubbling French Montana. 

During the mid-2010s, Mustard dominated radio and the clubs with his bouncy West Coast production; Ty was a massive beneficiary of that success, doing features for his Taylor Gang captain Wiz Khalifa, Travis Barker, Chris Brown, Big Sean and more hitmakers. He even showed that he could provide a spark on the pop side when plugged in alongside acts like Fifth Harmony and Post Malone, with both records becoming top five hits on the Hot 100, and the latter becoming his first Hot 100-topper.

The West Coast singer also continued to show promise on the solo side, notably on his debut album, Free TC, in 2015. When paired with singers like Brandy and James Fauntleroy (“LA”), Babyface (“Solid”), and Jagged Edge (“Straight Up”), Ty held his own and created memorable moments without being washed away by the featured artist. Then, when paired with rappers, Ty’s swagger provided enough heat to stand alongside some of the toughest cats of the time, including Kendrick Lamar, Future and Kanye. Although he didn’t land a high Billboard 200 peak, Free TC shined on many year-end lists and solidified Ty as a formidable lead artist. 

But Ty began stretching himself too thin, releasing one too many projects at a time. Following Free TC, he dropped his mixtape Campaign a year after its release and delivered his sophomore album, Beach House 3, in 2017. That’s three projects in two years. While BH3 had noteworthy features, including Lil Wayne, Pharrell, and Future, it failed to get Ty his first top 10 album on the Billboard 200, forcing him to quickly swim back to the features well. Though he secured great album-cut looks as a co-star on Kanye West’s “Real Friends,” Drake’s “Jaded,” and The Carters’ “Boss,” instead of using that momentum to release a solo album, he paired up with Jeremih for their joint album Mihty in 2018. After coming off a Hot 100 No. 1 with Post Malone in “Psycho” that year, it would have been the ideal time for Ty to be a little more selfish and release an album on his own. But the reception to MihTy was mild, as it failed to gain velocity on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 60. 

Ty’s last solo album came in 2020, Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, which earned the highest Billboard 200 debut of his career (No. 4), with a bloated effort consisting of 25 songs. The glossy guest list was good, as he nabbed familiar faces like Kanye, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and Kid Cudi, but it again proved the less-is-more adage needs to be a greater focus for Ty in the future. In 2021, he released another collaborative album with DVSN titled Cheers to the Best Memories – which didn’t move the needle for either party commercially, peaking at No. 139 on the BIllboard 200. The album was also panned by fans and critics, who yearned for more from the two respected acts. 

But the door is open again for Ty to re-establish himself as a solo star, following the release of Vultures 1. The chart-topping LP features a masterclass performance by Ty Dolla $ign, doing what he does best — being the assist man. With Kanye helming the production and serving as the lead artist, Ty colored between the lines and kept the songs rock steady despite Ye’s radioactive raps. Songs like “Burn” and “Back to Me” showed flashes of vintage Yeezy but are anchored by Ty’s hooks and songwriting abilities. Though Mr. West was undoubtedly the conductor, Ty’s smoothness rounded out this project greatly, which makes one wonder: What if Ty recorded his next solo album with Kanye as the executive producer? 

Or, to take things further, Ty can take a page out of Pusha T’s book and have two producers helm his new album. He could tap his old friend in DJ Mustard to do half the album while Mr. West takes on the second half, providing fans a look at the past and the present since, he has done his best work with both behind-the-scenes maestros. Fans adore him for his collaborations, but seeing more of Ty on the solo front could benefit him as a lead artist, considering there’s some stagnancy on the male side of R&B, with no definitive leading man at the moment. 

While Ty has enjoyed a fruitful career and will become one of this generation’s most important featured artists, he hasn’t always needed to share the spotlight. But if Ty finishes all three Vultures installments with Kanye (with 2 and 3 currently slated for March 5 and April 8, respectively), it will propel him even higher – and hopefully, he can one day use the momentum to become the star of his own carnival.

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