I don’t even think Bryson Tiller knew just how big his debut tape, TRAPSOUL, would become. It was a breath of fresh air at a time when R&B had started to grow stagnant and for the past two years he’s been riding that wave into the ground. Coming out of nowhere can be a blessing and a curse, and the pressure for him to deliver on his major debut has been immense. I’ve been eager to see if could find a way to truly build on what he already started with True to Self.
When he first came onto the scene his literal mix of trap and soul created something I had never really heard before. It was similar to the alternative R&B of the likes of The Weeknd but still somehow felt substantially different. Since then this style of music has been aped all throughout music and the more established acts who ran on it started to move towards other sounds. Not Bryson Tiller though, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, he went all in. True to Self is a long album and while it starts out really strong, it struggles to keep things fresh as it gets deeper into it’s track listing. Songs start to blur into one another and I felt my attention starting to drift from the music. In two years, the sound of music can change drastically, so if you’re not going to bring something new and original to the table, then you need to more than marginally improve on the formula, and I don’t think he did enough of that.
“‘Cause you spend too much time with your friends, fuck y’all doing? Hey
Spending money on strip clubs and drugs, I knew it
Damn shawty, you know love not the same way I do it
I’m the only drug you need to get you through it”
Unfortunately he also doubles down on his lyrical content as well. Much of True to Self felt like a rehashing of what we already learned on TRAPSOUL and since he’s not the strongest of singers out there, his actual content is that much more important. I have a feeling he’ll start to move from the “good guy” act the next go around, there’s only so much you can do with it. With all that being said, his unique mix rapping/singing still makes for a generally enjoyable listen that does build and improve on his foundation. It’s just disappointing that his musical growth felt so minor.
Have you heard True to Self? What’d you think about it? Do you think Bryson Tiller showed enough growth from his first project? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your own reaction and rating for the album.