Bryson Tiller had us waiting for a minute now. When T R A P S O U L dropped back in the fall of 2015, he had us smiling, crying, laughing, and contemplating all in one breath with the gems he dropped on that album. We were hip to his covers but not really captivated by his own personal craft. But T R A P S O U L, was almost undoubtedly the best debut album an artist could drop. Not to mention, J. Cole wasn’t the only one to drop some fire and go platinum with no hits, because Tiller had that covered as well. As his fandom increased and his name faced a fresh fight with PARTYNEXTDOOR & The Weeknd, he took the following year and a half to do features and well, find himself we assumed. His debut album was like a drug and after a long wait, the high was certainly wearing off. Just a few months ago, in the spring of 2017, we got word that Bryson Tiller would be releasing his sophomore album entitled “True To Self”. Just two weeks ago, he released three singles entitled “Honey”, “Somethin Tells Me”, and “Get Mine” with YSL’s Young Thug, providing something for us to feed off of. A month before the intended release date of June 23rd, we got blessed with the release of the full album but as expected, there were some highs and lows.
High: Welcome Back!
As mentioned before, when we look at the hierarchy of new school R&B, the top runners are PARTYNEXTDOOR, The Weeknd, and Bryson Tiller himself. PARTY held it down by dropping P3 and The Weeknd, has constantly been releasing music since people got a hold of Trilogy, but I think it’s safe to say that out of all of these competitors, between features, singles, and projects, Bryson has dropped the least amount of content. This doesn’t mean that he was getting beat out in any way but it certainly does explain why fans were feigning so hard for him to drop more songs. After a long year of bodied features, both heartwarming and hard hitting, fans began to salivate over the idea that another full project was coming. Don’t front. We were all overdue for some sounds that would explain what our emotions couldn’t and those warm candle lit nights that left us in our feelings; we knew Tiller was the guy for that. So to say the least, it was about damn time…
Low: Is This The Same Song, Or…?
Whenever I listen to a new album, I automatically put it on shuffle because you never know who is behind the strategic placing of the songs. I rather hear it naturally and let each song pop on its own, rather than hearing them blend into each other but in this album, I probably should have listened to it as it was. After a while, everything started to sound the same. There were times where listeners would have to check and see if the song changed because they blended into each other a little too well. Yes, there are similar vibes and certainly similar content but damn, none of these songs really stood out from each other. Some songs made it hard to determine whether or not there was a beat switch or the next song began playing. Not to mention he was still speaking about the same chronicles of being in love and not knowing what he wants. This is what we expect from Tiller but he showed no signs of personal growth. Depending on how critically you listen, this album just might sound like one hour long song.
High: No Help Needed
He did it by himself. Just a few days ago Travis Scott tweeted about the third track on Bryson’s album, “Don’t Get Too High”, just to find out that his only presence on the song was a sample from “Backyard”. Bryson’s other feature, “Get Mine”, featuring Young Thug didn’t even make it on the album. So, similar to T R A P S O U L, he dropped a significant amount of fire effortlessly by himself. As fans, sure we might want to hear the heat he can create with other people but instead, we cannot overlook the fact that he has proved time and time again, that he doesn’t need anyone other than a beat to contribute to his music because it sure as hell stands for itself.
Low: Damn, This Album Is Still Playing?
True To Self was a whopping 19 songs long. I’m not complaining, however when someone releases that many songs at once, it opens up way more opportunity for judgment because it’s inevitable that not all of them are going to be hits. The last thing you would want to do as an artist is overfill the tank and push a bunch of music all at once because in addition, some of the best songs will naturally get overlooked. If he dropped near 20 completely diverse songs, maybe this would be a different story but I think it’s safe to say that Bryson is very comfortable with his sound. So in reality, we didn’t really need 20 songs in the same lane. It may be overwhelming at first listen but the most important fear is the idea that you won’t know what song to play because there are too many of them.
High: The Power of a Beat
The production on this album was phenomenal ! I will say one thing; Bryson did the hell out of these samples. The production on this album ranged from hit producers Wondagurl and Boi-1da to Kentucky’s own NES. Tiller brought out the CD catalog for this one because his sample game was insane. We got brought around the world with samples from SWV, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Ice Cube and even The Spinners. The best artists and producers have the largest music category and surely know how to put sounds together; we witnessed that properly executed on this entire album. The production just may have been the strongest component of this recipe cooked up by True To Self.
Low: The “Drake Effect”
I think Bryson Tiller is going through what I call the “Drake Effect”. The “Drake Effect” is when an artist is more than capable of dropping both hard hitting and soft songs, but excels in one area more than the other. Specifically in this example, Bryson, like Drake, makes way better soft music than he does hard. Don’t get me wrong, the hard songs are dope as well but when the soft songs are this good, we don’t want to hear you try to switch it up with something more aggressive. All hard songs on this album got a solid skip because I just wasn’t here for it. I rather Bryson leave the hard songs for the google searches. Let the raw music blossom on the albums.
Top 5 songs: “High Stakes”, “No Longer Friends”, “Don’t Get Too High”, “In Check”, & “Somethin Tells Me”
Stream Bryson Tillers sophomore album, True To Self, now via Apple Music.