Author: Joycelynn Okezie
HE PAVED HIS OWN LANE BY STAYING “TRUE TO SELF”
From his genre-shifting introductory album, TrapSoul many felt his sophomore album True To Self did not live up to the expectation, hype and anticipation as his debut. As much shit as people gave Bryson Tiller for this album, I just don’t understand because True To Self is a decent album. Critics alike must understand that Bryson Tiller’s initial buzz arose from the Soundcloud platform and that he is still maturing in his artist development and as a recording artist. Honestly, I can’t say that True To Self is better than TrapSoul but I can say that there are many album cuts that I appreciate and other cuts I wish would have been “cut” from the tracklist. In my opinion, True to Self was too long and did not flow as seamlessly and cohesive as TrapSoul, which made me wonder who A&R’ed this project. Having many songs on albums and projects is a new practice by labels to increase streams by taking a “playlist” approach, but at the same time it’s annoying and tends to dilute the quality of albums – The album intro sets the tone for the album. Tiller sampled SWV’s “Rain” for “Rain On Me”. What makes me love Tiller’s music so much is his consistent use of Trap instruments. He has truly made a mark with Trap music and the trap music in his songs always shine through. The introduction track has a smooth trap beat with Tiller telling his girl to cry on him – I fucked heavy with “No Longer Friends” I’ve been in this situation so many times, I felt like Tiller was singing my life. I honestly used to listen to this song every day before work. We all been in that scenario where your significant other gets jealous of your close “guy” or “girl” friend. The plot twist is you actually have deep feelings for them whether romantically involved or not. I believe Tiller champions on touching on relationship topics that resonate well in his music. “Don’t Get Too High” was another dope cut but it felt less exciting as “No Longer Friends” which was more heartfelt. “Don’t Get Too High” shows the more empathetic side of Tiller, caring for his girl’s wellbeing telling her not to overdo it with the “drugs”. The sentiment was nice but I felt this song was type boring – “Blowing Smoke” shows the rowdier side of Tiller. I love when he talks his “Young Pen Griffey” shit. It reminds me of his “Rambo” days. Tiller treads lightly on the line between a rapper and a soul-singer with his hard-hitting bars and lusty harmonies. “Blowing Smoke” has a dope hook but again, this song is sonically boring when compared to all the sonically pleasing songs on TrapSoul. Tiller did allude to having problems with his old manager, I wonder if this song was a shot to that manager. Tiller was really talking that talk on this track.
RELATIONSHIP WOES ENSUE WHILE HIS FOES STAY TRUE
With “We Both Know” Tiller won my heart back, on this song as he reminds his girl “Hey you love me and you know you’re stuck with me, we both know”. I really dig his bars, cadences, and lyrics on this one. He did well on this track as he weaves in and out of melodic singing and rapping. This is one of the better songs on the album, another relatable resonating track. The cohesiveness of the album stays together as we get into “You Got It” as Tiller continues to adorn his girl and letting her know “You Got It”. The trap beat on this song is FIRE as fuck yet smooth. This is what you can ride around with your baby. “You Got It” is a sexy smooth track. “In Check” was cool too. At this point the album sounds like it meshes into each other, the songs and beats are starting to sound the same. The beat drop on “In Check” was the best thing about it. Tiller reminds me of Usher when it comes to how soulful he can get in his music, it reminds me of “8701” especially his ad-libs. Only true Tiller fans know what I’m talking about.
others will say how the fuck could I compare him to Usher? Only R&B lovers with foresight would understand – 502 Native, Tiller turns things up with “Self-Made” which is one of the most popular songs of the album. The hook makes this song stand tall. I love this song, and I can talk my shit when I sing it. As a Tiller fan, it makes me feel like “Mama we made it!” “Self-Made” is serving straight bars.
Tiller is showing off his rap side with barely any melodies except for a few harmonious ad-libs. “Run Me Dry” was a more up-tempo song on the album. The way he sang the hook was dope and kept the song going. This is where Tiller shows his strength in relating to his audience as he talks about a failed relationship my favorite part of this song is when he says “Baby it’s my turn to flex on you!!” That’s so real. Flexing on an Ex! Bryson’s melodic ad-libs were cool as hell on this song, which is one reason that I’m a fan, I’m fascinated by how he freestyle’s his harmonies so naturally. “High Stakes” is a song that could have been left off the album. It just doesn’t sound like it fit. The beat sounds hard hitting but the intro of this song sounds like a mixtape throw-away. “Rain Interlude” is a deep and personal voicemail, it also leads into to my favorite song of the album “Teach Me A Lesson” which was probably my most played song in 2018 according to my Spotify statistics. I personally feel that Tiller excelled with “Teach Me A Lesson” in the field of connecting in relatability. The chorus, beat and tone meshed well together. As an R&B sap myself, it’s easy to know that this is one of the better songs on True To Self. When listening, you can picture the whole song in your head without a music video. That’s how vivid and visual the lyrics are. Tiller is channelling his 90’s Donell Jones vibes in this record. “You’re gonna find someone, who’s ready for you, Teach me a lesson, babe”.
90’S SOUL SAMPLES & BREAK-UPS
“Stay Blessed” has the ill-est trap sample of the whole album. It’s also an amazing song. When your “man” or “lady” tells you “Stay blessed” you know it’s through. I love that he titled the song that, it speaks for itself. This song is so sad, it kind of makes me want to cry in a way, the lyrics are that dope. “Cut me off, told me stay blessed love”. I really appreciate how he sings out his rap bars. I honestly wanted the album to end at “Stay Blessed” because that and “Lesson” outro-ed the compilation with a boss-ass ending – What annoyed me on this album is the fact that it kept going on. The A&R should have not let it go on after “Stay Blessed”. Tiller got back to his “Rambo” shit-talking on “Money Problems” I didn’t like this song at ALL and it didn’t fit with the album. I guess I just like the romantic R&B Tiller. When he starts rapping to his foes, I’m ready to press skip. The next song “Set It Off”, I’m a fan of. When True To Self released, this was the only song I played back to back. I love the Faith Evans sample.
I really love Tiller’s appreciation for 90’s R&B and the great use of samples. Again, this is my type of Tiller music, romantic, dope, great bars, awesome hook. “Set It Off” has a great world play on the title alluding to a 90’s movie. Tiller starts reminiscing and gets nostalgic in this record. I appreciate when he gets personal, It helps to better understand his journey more as an artist. “Nevermind This Interlude” and “Before You Judge Me” are two songs I felt did not fit. That “Back In Theeee” riff Tiller hit was pretty cold on “Nevermind”. This interlude has a nice beat and greatly showed off his rhyme and word-play ability. “Something Tells Me” was another cute song with a nice beat and catchy hook. Often heard on the radio, a fan favorite and debut single from the album. Another relatable song sounds like it could have been a bonus track or a promotional single. I don’t feel it fit the cohesiveness or theme of True To Self. Nonetheless, the album was still solid. Tiller delivered. It was noted he was in a depression while recording the album. Even with that stated, there was so much to appreciate this body of work. This joint definitely has replay value and I know his next project will go even harder.
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