Lil Tjay started his career rapping with his friends in the Bronx, New York, and has since grown to be one of the brightest burgeoning talents in hip-hop. Born Tione Jayden Merritt, 16-year-old Lil Tjay was amongst a young crop of artists who released their music primarily through SoundCloud in 2016. That consistent output of music through the streaming service put Lil Tjay on the radar of many A&Rs. He was eventually discovered after his single “Brothers” gained some traction in 2018, and he signed with Columbia Records.
From there, songs that he previously released on SoundCloud started gaining millions of streams. At the end of 2018, Lil Tjay released his debut EP No Comparisons and landed his first Billboard Hot 100 hit in 2019 on Polo G’s “Pop Out,” which peaked at No. 11. Later that same year, Tjay released his debut album True 2 Myself, which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Tjay is known for melodic rapping, but he also flexed his versatility on his 2020 EP State of Emergency, in which he dabbled with drill music alongside New York staples like Fivio Foreign and Pop Smoke. Tjay also collaborated with Pop Smoke on the late rapper’s posthumous hit song “Mood Swings.” Tjay used the momentum from his successful 2020 to drop his second studio album, Destined 2 Win, featuring hits like “Calling My Phone” and “Headshot.” Now, as he continues to climb the charts, the question is not if Lil Tjay can rise any higher. It’s just a matter of when.