Album Review: Bryson Tiller x True To Self

(Released May 26th, 2017)

I’ve been slow to join the Tiller train, so slow that it’s still passing by at this very moment, but I decided to give his sophomore LP a listen after finding a few songs on his debut album TrapSoul to be pretty okay; nothing extraordinary but acceptable for what it was. With a title like True To Self I would expect to hear Bryson opening up about being just that – similar to what 6LACK was able to do on his self-titled debut – but although 6LACK and Bryson share a similar musical approach, the relatable aspect of the Atlanta native’s sound is far superior to that of the Louisville breed singer/rapper.

True To Self rarely, if any, dives into Tiller as a person instead focuses on the struggles of a relationship that is clearly not going to work – just leave her alone, sir. If the album does take such a dive it fell upon deaf ears because listening to this entire album is nothing short of a tortuous chore. After hearing this, only two things caught my attention and made my ears perk up and they both were the usage of certain samples instead of anything Bryson was actually bringing to the table. I love a good 90s sample so opening the album with a high-pitched version of SWV’s “Rain” was an immediate winner, unfortunately, the sample didn’t last long enough – similar to my attention span for this project. The second moment, of course, was hearing Kendrick Lamar’s “FEEL.” make an appearance on “You Got It.” Using a track as powerful as “FEEL.” had me believing that this song would finally be the one – I was wrong. It’s nothing but more of the same content reminiscent of the five songs that came before it – nothing profound, heart-wrenching or anything notable of being DAMN. worthy.

Aside from some okay production laced with someone’s future Instagram caption, I don’t understand the appeal that a project like this would have, I don’t want to understand it either. Bryson Tiller seems to lack the energy, drive, vocal ability and presence that is necessary to sustain a lasting career or at least a memorable body of work. No matter how much I talk down regarding the new trends of mumble rap and singers who tether the line of being rappers, there is still something that can be pointed out about the artists who are prospering doing those things. Judging by this album, the same can’t be said about Tiller.

True To Self‘s track list consists of 19 songs – including a few interludes – and there was next to nothing I was able to pull from any of them. I found myself being completely disengaged from finishing the album a few times and would rather get lost in a rabbit hole of YouTube videos or other albums before realizing I was initially listening to the album. For me, I’ll never listen to this album again – it’s already deleted from my library – it is extremely repetitive and in its repetition little is brought to the table to maintain any sort of interest that’ll last for too long.

Maybe True To Self was an intentional move – perhaps Bryson wanted to release an album so forgettable he could finally crawl back into his hermit shell in peace without the constant badgering of fans asking for new music? If that’s the case, Bryson, you’re doing amazing sweetie!

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