10:00 PM, Monday, Oct 8: I'm standing outside Paramount Recording studios on Santa Monica Boulevard waiting for the publicist for R&B singer Ty Dolla $ign -- aka Ty$. The plan is for me to hang out with the Hollywood denizen, who rolls with the Pushaz Ink label crew (YG, DJ Mustard, Fuego). Ty$'s blowing up. He inked a deal with Atlantic Records in September and released his new mixtape Beach House this month. I, on the other hand, am fucking cold. It's actually 60 degrees outside, but it feels colder. Maybe it's because I'm wearing a short dress with no jacket.
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10:03 PM: A young man riding his bike almost runs me over. "Watch out, bitch!" he yells. I jump out of the way. Sadly, two hours earlier, another dude on a bike called me a slut while I was walking down Fairfax. To quote Randy Newman: I love L.A.!
10:07 PM: Aishah, Ty's publicist and I enter the smoke-laden studio where DJ Reflex, Kid Ink, Nate 3D and a few other friends/co-workers are chilling. It is a typical studio space, with flat screen TV playing the Saints-Chargers Monday Night Football game.
Ty$ sports an Adidas jumpsuit with a cross dangling from his left ear. "Dolla Sign" is inked across his neck, and he is wearing a light blue L.A. cap with his dreads pulled back. He sparks a joint and blows out a heavy cloud of smoke.
There is a Grey Goose bottle on the counter, as well as several Red Bull cans, Guinness bottles, water bottles and some leftover grub. Rapper Kid Ink is sitting behind the mixing board adjusting his Atlanta Braves cap. His last album Up & Away came out in June, and he's working on his new one. Some of the beats he's looking at are from Ty$ and his production team, which is called Dirty Rotten Underground Sound (or D.R.U.G.S.).
Ty$ is pretty stoked about Beach House and interested to hear what his friends think of it.
"Did you listen to Beach House yet?" he asks DJ Reflex.
"Sorry, man. My wife is having a baby. I haven't had any time," Reflex responds.
"Thanks, man," he says, laughing. "You got no time for me."
10:10 PM: Ty$ imparts that his father Tyrone Griffin, whose name Ty$ shares, was a member of Lakeside, a '70s funk band best known for the song "Fantastic Voyage," which was sampled in Coolio's 1994 hit with the same title. He played keyboards and sang backup, and he inspired Ty$ to get into the business. "I wouldn't have been into music if it wasn't for my dad. He got me into all the dope shit," he says. "I started when I was three. I still have the cassette tape of me playing. I would go into his studio and make my own beats." He added that he would like to collaborate with his dad and that it will probably happen someday.
10:20 PM: Ty$ rolls a fat blunt.
10:25 PM: DJ Ill Will walks into the studio with a Laced sweatshirt on and chain slung around his neck. He got to know Ty$ from his first mixtape House on the Hill last year, which featured artists like YG, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa. He sits down on a chair next to Ty$, and the group gets down to business. A young, bald-headed engineer by the name of Angel starts playing some music. It blasts through the small space.
10:26 PM: Ill Will plops down on the couch and starts talking to an A&R guy in the room. He looks over to me and says, "I really liked this guy's music when I heard it [points to Ty$], but I think he really needs to change his fucking name."
"Dolla Sign!" Nate 3D adds, while wiping ash from his black D.R.U.G.S. tank top. Ty$ laughs and says, "Yeah, but the ladies like it."
10:30 PM: Our conversation touches on numerous topics, some music-related but mostly about women. Ty$ explains that women respond to his music first, "then the niggas do." I ask him if he has a girlfriend. His answer: "Nah." He thinks it wouldn't be fair because of what he does for a living, and he wants to play the field. He explains that girls always think he will "Toot It and Boot It." Of course, he is referencing YG's hit single that he wrote, produced and sang on.
10:46 PM: He rolls two more blunts.
10:50 PM: They smoke two more blunts.
10:53 PM: I'm getting a major contact high. I am stoned.
10:59 PM: The A&R guy thinks the speed of the track they are playing (for probably the fifth time now) is too slow. He thinks it sounds like Waka Flocka Flame. The BPM is around 87. He's pushing for 95.
11:00 PM: I mention I heard that a Skrillex sample will be on a remix of "My Cabana," a new song off Ty$'s mixtape. He says that's probably true, but isn't sure if it will clear. He says hip-hop artists are always try to copy each other, that rappers copy his ratchet sound and that he started it. He also claims he makes "intergalactic ratchet shit and takes it to the next level."
11:40 PM: Ty$ asks me to take a picture of him drinking "Dirty Sprite," which is turns out is sizzurp, popularized in Houston. It includes codeine and promethazine, and he will go on to drink alcohol, which is a hairy combination.
11:41 PM: I'm praying that he doesn't die. That may be because I'm stoned.
12:00 AM: Kid Ink is bobbing his head to the beat as Nate 3D takes over control of the music. Their homie Poon Daddy (great name) walks in the door with his crew. The music is so damn loud that I can barely hear myself talk. "This sounds like there is a rat in the music," says Ill Will. "You need to take that rat sound out. It's weirding me out." Everyone laughs at this bizarre but accurate critique.
12:05 AM: Okay, this next beat is pretty sweet.
12:06 AM: The lyrics "She just wants to move her body" are on repeat. Everyone is feeling this. It's probably going to be a track.
12:30 AM: Ty$ and some of his friends head out of the studio. Before Ty$ walks out of the room, I take a picture. His eyes are squinted, and he looks extremely fucked up. Of course, he's still holding his Dirty Sprite cup.
12:34 AM: I'm outside the studio with Ty$ and his friends, manager and publicist. There is an accident on the corner of Santa Monica and Vine. It's right outside the Yoshinoya chain restaurant.
12:35 AM: "Holy fuck, I just saw a girl on a bike get hit by a truck," says Nate 3D, panicking.
"What?!? "I shout. I just missed it by a few seconds.
"Yeah," he says. "I think she just died. I heard her scream really loud. The truck just took off."
12:40 AM: A fire truck arrives, which is surrounded by police officers and a crowd of people. The crew is completely freaked out. So am I.
12:41 AM: We get the hell out of there, taking three separate cars. I ride with Ty$'s manager and publicist.
12:56 AM: We arrive at Drai's nightclub in Hollywood. We all get our hands stamped. Three of Ty$'s friends don't have their IDs. Ty$ attempts to get them in, but he fails.
1:00 AM: We are escorted into the club. There are women dancing on oversized red lamps that seem to double as stripper poles. One girl falls on her ass while trying to grind on the slippery dance floor.
1:05 AM: Turns out we're celebrating DJ Dre Sinatra's birthday. DJs Mark Da Spot, Franzen and Carisma are all getting crazy in the booth.
1:10 AM: Ty$ is a guest of honor. He's on stage next to the VIP booth, dancing with his friends. One of the DJs demands that he get a bottle of Hennessy. He really doesn't need any more alcohol.
1:15 AM: MC Joe Moses, one of Ty$'s friends-collaborators, is here. He grabs the mic and starts singing his hit "Ratchets," off his From Nothin' 2 Somethin' mixtape, which I've heard a million times on Power 106.
1:22 AM: Ty$ is drinking Hennessy from the bottle.
1:45 AM: Finally, I get to hear Ty$ perform. He sings some parts of his hit "My Cabana," although he's too fucked up to finish the entire tune. It's a dope track with a club beat.
1:47 AM: Ty's manager and publicist get into a heated argument with one of the ladies who is grinding up on this guy at our VIP table. I'm not really sure what the hell they are arguing about (since I can't hear anything), but they tell me the "bitch was ignorant."
1:57 AM: Ty$ barely sings to "I'm A Coke Boy" from Chinx Drugs featuring French Montana. He lip-synchs, but randomly throws in words like "Boy!" into the mic. I'm disappointed, but the song isn't that great, anyway.
2:07 AM: We all leave the club and stand outside the W Hotel waiting for the valet.
2:10 AM: "Was that crazy enough for you?" Ty$ asks me.
"You know," he goes on. "I saw this girl in the club that I used to fuck. I always see her around."
Ty$'s publicist turns to him. "I seriously hope you wore a condom."
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