‘True To Self’ Album Review: Bryson Tiller Shifts His Focus On Production
To say that Bryson Tiller is full of surprises at this point in his career.. feels like an injustice. The "Exchange" artist was originally set to release his sophomore album on June 23rd, but announced through Twitter that it was dropping nearly a month early. On May 26th, he delivered the follow up to his debut project TrapSoul. His second LP, True To Self, features nineteen tracks and no features. So here's the question everyone has been dying to know the answer to: Was True To Self better than TrapSoul?
No. Let me explain.
Let's start off by saying that Tiller is undeniably talented. It's obvious he was meant to create music. However, his ability to create something as powerful as TrapSoul fell short in terms of the overall sound of the project. As each song plays consecutively, there is a moment where the listener asks themselves, "Haven't I heard nineteen songs already?" In other words, the project seems very lengthy but is less than an hour. This might be a result of how Tiller is choosing to say what he's saying in the different songs. He tackles the messages of wanting more in relationships, backstabbing friends, family issues, management issues and becoming a great dad. Someone who is known for similar messages is Drake. The difference is that Drake finds a way to make each song different or catchy.. if you will. Tiller drags out the songs as time goes on. What saves Tiller on this album are his various uses of samples and interludes. This is why Tiller deserves a round of applause for the production of the album. He samples SWV and Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. (which released not too long ago.)
One of the greatest songs on this project is "You Got It." Tiller says "When I look at you I see someone I don't deserve," which makes females listening to the track automatically agree. The list continues with "Rain On Me," "Don't Get Too High," "Teach Me A Lesson," and "Money Problems/Benz Truck." These tracks stand out due to it's overall production. Tiller samples very unique beats which is commendable. It shows he is thinking beyond lyrics. This is proven on "Run Me Dry" which has a tropical sounding beat. To be honest, it gives Drake's More Life vibes. It's unfortunate because Tiller hasn't done this style enough to not sound like he is copying someone else. The "Don't" artist got caught up in production and forgot to give the album the heart and soul that TrapSoul had.
He's more arrogant this time around. "Self Made" and "Before You Judge" sounds like the hidden aggression that any normal artist goes through as they figure themselves out. Tiller's flow gives off that "hardcore rapper" appeal.
Because of the lack of features, it's easy to get tired of hearing Tiller's voice for nineteen songs straight. However, the "Rain Interlude" was the perfect icing on the cake. In that interlude, a woman is sharing how much she sticks through Bryson's side through anything. This is brilliant because regardless of gender, there is a moment in everyone's life where they stuck by someone's side when they had every sign to leave. The interlude goes on to say:
"All I did is say I have feelings for you. And all you do is sh*t all over it. And tell me you want me to get over you. And that you want nothing to do with me. That's hurtful, Bryson. I did nothing to you. I've done nothing to you. For a year, all you did was lie to me and talk to other girls and I'm still hearing it. Okay, I forgive you, let's work with it. I really like you." ("Rain Interlude")
Tiller attempted to arrange the tracks to tell a story. For example, after that woman pours her heart out on "Rain Interlude," the next track is "Teach Me A Lesson." "Teach Me A Lesson" is the perfect followup track because he encourages her to teach him a lesson by moving on. Quite frankly, it is rather clever.
So on a scale of one to ten, the album gets a sold 7.0. Tiller tweeted on Apr. 12, "Sophomore album complete, I always feel like I have more to say when 'I'm done'" which reflects on why the LP sounds insignificant. The problem with putting out something as incredible as TrapSoul is trying to measure up or surpass it. Tiller definitely has some hits but also has room for improvement. Overall, he focused more on production and versatility with beats, which is something nice for those who love a hardcore beat. Good job Tiller, but not great.