|Birth name||Tione Jayden Merritt|
|Born||April 30, 2001|
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Tione Jayden Merritt (born April 30, 2001), known professionally as Lil Tjay, is an American rapper, singer, dancer, and songwriter. His stage name is derived from the first letter of his first name and first three letters of his middle name.
In 2018, Lil Tjay signed to Columbia Records. Lil Tjay's debut studio album, True 2 Myself, was released on October 11, 2019. The following year, he released a mixtape State of Emergency that features only drill artists from New York City. True 2 Myself debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, marking the album his first charted release. His second studio album, Destined 2 Win, was released on April 2, 2021, and includes the single "Calling My Phone", a collaboration with American singer 6lack, his highest-charting song yet.
Merritt was born in the Bronx borough of New York. He was raised by a single mother of Ghanaian descent and had two younger siblings in what was described as a "roomy" apartment. Merritt called himself the problematic child out of the three, as he would often get himself into petty robberies and school fights. At the age of 15, Merritt was arrested for one of his robberies and was sentenced for a year to a youth detention center where he would begin to write raps; they included one of his hit songs "Resume", which he released on SoundCloud.
2017–2019: Beginnings, record deal, and True 2 Myself
On March 10, 2018, Lil Tjay competed and placed first at the Coast 2 Coast LIVE NYC All Ages Edition, where his performance gained the attention of a record label A&R who was in attendance to judge the showcase. Soon after, Lil Tjay released the single "Brothers", which became his biggest song at the time and led to him signing with Columbia Records.
Within the first ten months of Lil Tjay's music career, he had released five tracks that recorded over one million plays on SoundCloud. "Brothers", "Resume", "Goat", and "Leaked" each accumulated tens of millions of streams. In July 2018, Lil Tjay worked with producer CashMoneyAP to release "None of Your Love", which also amassed tens of millions of plays. Lil Tjay released his debut EP No Comparison at the end of 2018.
In January 2019, Lil Tjay was featured on fellow American rapper Polo G's single "Pop Out", which peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. In July, he was featured on boy band PrettyMuch's "Lying". Later that year, he released an EP titled F.N; the project's lead single, "F.N", peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became his first solo charting song. Lil Tjay released his debut album True 2 Myself on October 11, 2019. It debuted and peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard 200. In December, he was featured on a remix of 24kGoldn's song "Valentino".
2020–present: State of Emergency and Destined 2 Win
In early 2020, Lil Tjay reached the Billboard Hot 100 again with his single "20/20", which peaked at number 94 on the chart. On May 8, 2020, Lil Tjay released the EP State of Emergency, which focused heavily on drill music, a popular subgenre in New York City. The seven-song EP included the track "Zoo York", featuring Fivio Foreign and Pop Smoke, which peaked at number 65 on the Hot 100. In July 2020, Lil Tjay appeared on Pop Smoke's debut posthumous album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, on the track "Mood Swings", which reached number 17 on the Hot 100. On August 11, Lil Tjay was included on XXL's 2020 Freshman Class. In October, Lil Tjay hinted at a new project on Twitter.
On February 12, 2021, Lil Tjay released his single "Calling My Phone", a collaboration with American singer 6lack, which was accompanied by a music video directed by Cam Busby. The song debuted at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the highest-charting single of Lil Tjay's career. On March 19, Lil Tjay released "Headshot", a collaboration with Polo G and Fivio Foreign as the second single from his second studio album, Destined 2 Win, which was released on April 2, 2021. The album consists of twenty-one tracks.
Influenced by his upbringing in the Bronx, Lil Tjay is a melodic rapper who frequently incorporates Auto-Tune in his songs. He has drawn comparisons to fellow New York rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that his biggest musical influences are Drake, Meek Mill, and Usher. In the same interview, Lil Tjay described his music as having a melodic sound when singing or rapping about his past struggles. Lil Tjay also credits his success to his year spent in prison, where he claims that his ability to write songs peaked. In Pitchfork's featured article on Lil Tjay, he is referred to as a "hip-hop heartthrob". Later in the interview, Lil Tjay explained that he is often called the "Bronx Justin Bieber" because of his sampling Justin Bieber's "Baby".
Lil Tjay accompanied Seattle rapper Lil Mosey on his nationwide tour throughout 2019. He also has performed at the three-day Rolling Loud Miami music festival, along with Migos, Travis Scott, and Kid Cudi in Miami Gardens, Florida in May 2019 and at the Los Angeles festival in December. He frequently appears and performs on concerts with close friend Jay Gwuapo.
- Callas, Brad (October 11, 2019). "Everything You Need to Know About Lil Tjay". Complex. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
- Pierre, Alphonse (January 18, 2019). "Get to Know Hip-Hop Heartthrob Lil Tjay, Who Wants to Be the Next Usher". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
- "Get to Know Hip-Hop Heartthrob Lil Tjay, Who Wants to Be the Next Usher". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Lil tjay – Lil tjay Performs at Coast 2 Coast LIVE | NYC All Ages Edition 3/10/18 – 1st Place | Videos | Coast 2 Coast LIVE | Largest Artist Showcase in the World". Coast 2 Coast Live. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Suarez, Gary. "5 Hip-Hop Singles To Watch This Winter On The Billboard Hot 100". Forbes. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Exploding NYC rapper Lil Tjay doesn't want 'None Of Your Love'". Elevator. August 2, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- "Lil Tjay | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- "Lil Tjay". SoundCloud. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- "Lil Tjay on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Spanos, Brittany (July 19, 2019). "Watch PrettyMuch, Lil Tjay's Graffiti-Covered 'Lying' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
- A., Aron (January 3, 2020). "24KGOLDN Taps Lil Tjay For "Valentino (Remix)"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
- Williams, Kyann-Sian (May 8, 2020). "Lil Tjay – 'State Of Emergency' EP review: trap'n'b star makes cynical grab for New York drill hype". NME. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- ""Fans are loving Lil Tjay's song Zoo York"". May 8, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2020 – via Twitter.
- "Pop Smoke Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Cline, Georgette (August 11, 2020). "XXL 2020 FRESHMAN CLASS REVEALED". XXL. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- "Spent the last couple months pouring my heart out into this album. It's finally done!! 🔥😤 I'm extremely excited about this project hopefully it helps ya to get to know me a lil better, I decided to opened up about a lot". October 24, 2020. Retrieved February 15, 2021 – via Twitter.
- "Lil Tjay and 6LACK Share New Song "Calling My Phone": Listen". Pitchfork. February 12, 2021.
- Trust, Gary (February 22, 2021). "Olivia Rodrigo's 'Drivers License' Leads Hot 100 For 6th Week, Lil Tjay's 'Calling My Phone' Dials Up No. 3 Debut". Billboard. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
- Findlay, Mitch (March 24, 2021). "Lil Tjay Announces New Album "Destined 2 Win"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
- Holmes, Charles (January 3, 2019). "Rising Bronx Rapper Lil Tjay Will Make You Feel Old". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Hunt, Relly (June 21, 2018). "Lil Tjay is New York's next big STAR". Gritty Vibes Magazine. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- "Lil Tjay – Upcoming Shows, Tickets, Reviews, More". JamBase. August 26, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- "Lil Mosey, Lil TJay, C Glizzy, Bandkids". Chicago Reader. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- "Rolling Loud Miami 2019: Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, Cardi B, amogh <3 Kiran, and More". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
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