|Full Name||Tione Jayden Merritt|
|Stage Name||Lil Tjay|
|Birthday||April 30, 2001|
|Hometown||The Bronx, NY|
|Associated Acts||Polo G, Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign|
|Record Label||Columbia Records|
Background and Upbringing
Lil Tjay, born Tione Merritt, grew up in the South Bronx neighborhood of Morrisania. As a child, he split time between his mother and father‘s homes and had a turbulent family life. Tjay‘s early years were marked by poverty and violence in the streets.
At just 12 years old, Tjay‘s life took a turn for the worse when he joined a local Bronx gang called "Sevside." He became embroiled in the cycle of crime, drugs, and violence. However, Tjay soon realized the gang lifestyle would only lead to prison or death.
Looking for an escape, he turned to music. Tjay began writing his own raps and recording songs on his cell phone. He drew inspiration from artists like Drake, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and Michael Jackson. Tjay devoted all his free time to honing his craft and perfecting his unique melodic style.
Early Music Career
Tjay began taking music seriously around 2015 at the age of 14. One of his first tracks, "Resume," highlighted his signature blend of rapping and singing. Tjay directed the music video himself on the streets of the Bronx. The song caught people‘s attention for how polished it sounded considering Tjay‘s limited resources.
In 2017, he released his breakout single, "Brothers." The emotional track, detailing gun violence tearing friends apart, struck a chord. It earned over 15 million YouTube views. Tjay‘s raw talent even caught the eye of Columbia Records executives, who signed the burgeoning artist.
Soon after, Tjay released his debut mixtape, "No Comparison." Songs like "Goat" and "Leaked" showed Tjay‘s versatility. The project blended old school New York rap with pop melodies. Critics praised the mixtape‘s originality while still paying homage to 90s legends.
Rise to Fame
Tjay‘s first major hit came in 2019 with "F.N." The introspective track about relationship troubles peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100. He followed it up with "Pop Out" featuring Polo G, which gained him his first platinum single.
In April 2019, Tjay dropped his debut album, "True 2 Myself," at just 18 years old. The project debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200, proving Tjay‘s star potential. Standout tracks like "Hold On" and "Ruthless" contained infectious flows and airy vocals.
Tjay‘s fame reached new heights in 2020. His sophomore album, "State of Emergency," debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200. Singles like "Zoo York" with Pop Smoke and "Calling My Phone" featuring 6lack became huge hits. The latter track peaked at #3 on the Hot 100, becoming Tjay‘s highest charting song yet.
Clearly, Tjay‘s unique artistry resonates widely. He has emerged as one of rap‘s hottest young talents.
Musical Style and Influences
Lil Tjay blends old school New York rap lyricism with contemporary pop melodies. His versatile baritone vocals glide smoothly between rapping and singing. According to Tjay, he prefers creating catchy hooks over complex bars.
Lyrically, Tjay touches on relatable topics like chasing success, relationship woes, and his problematic past. While his early work contained more drill-style aggression, he has transitioned to a lighter pop-rap sound. Nonetheless, Tjay still impresses with hard-hitting beats and deft wordplay.
Tjay lists Biggie, Tupac, MJ, Chris Brown, and Drake among his biggest influences. You can hear traces of these inspirations in his dynamic vocals and polished production. However, Tjay has crafted his own signature sound that pays respect to the past while pushing rap into the future.
Why People Love Lil Tjay
- Infectious melodies: Tjay has a gift for crafting catchy, sing-along hooks
- Relatable lyrics: His vulnerability in lyrics builds a connection with listeners
- Youthful exuberance: Tjay‘s music emanates the energy and passion of youth
- Musicality: He seamlessly switches between rapping and singing
- Hit-making ability: Banger after banger, Tjay knows how to make hits
- Crossover appeal: His pop sensibility widens his audience beyond just hip hop fans
Tjay‘s music contains just the right blend of melody, lyricism, and charisma. Watching this young talent grow has been a joy for fans.
Fun Facts About Lil Tjay
- His stage name combines his childhood nickname "Tjay" with "Lil"
- Tjay has said Micheal Jackson‘s style inspires his fashion sense
- He bought his mother a house with his first big recording advance
- Tjay got the crescent moon face tattoo at 17 years old
- He was featured on XXL‘s 2020 Freshman Class, the youngest inductee ever
Despite only being 21, Tjay raps with a wisdom beyond his years. In interviews, he‘s humble, soft-spoken, and oozes ambition. Seeing a gifted kid from the Bronx projects ascend to stardom makes his story that much more inspiring.
For any true hip hop lover, get to know Lil Tjay. Something tells me this is just the beginning of an iconic career. Tjay has proven he has the talent, drive, and originality to become a legend in the making.