Bryson Tiller – True To Self – Album Review

Bryson Tiller made a lot of people happy on Friday by dropping his highly anticipated second studio album “True To Self” a month early. Two years after his now platinum debut album Trapsoul. True To Self is a mixed bag but will more than likely live long in the memory of any serious R&B fan.

Tiller’s sophomore album has a very familiar sound which is noticeable as early as the second track (which is actually the first real song) “No Longer Friends”.  Fans of DMV rapper Goldlink will recognise the beat is a slowed down version of “Dance On Me”. Despite the same melody Tiller offers a much slower jam in which he details the way he went from being friends with someone to wanting to be their man’ despite them having a partner.  “This isn’t a side n***a anthem” personifies the meaning of the song best.

Fans of both Travis Scott and Tiller would have been happy to see Scott featured on the album but the track may be a disappointment to some. Don’t get me wrong Don’t Get To High is probably one of the best songs on the album but there is little input from Travis Scott.  The song doesn’t have a verse from the rapper it simply samples one of his old songs Backyard. Don’t Get Too High has a great chance of garnering commercial success as it goes hard as a R&B song can go.

After this the next couple of songs almost roll into one until You Got It changes up the sound by again sampling a recent song, the opening sequence of Kendrick Lamar’s Feel. It’s crazy to think how quick Paul Hollywood Hotsauce Dawson (the beatmaker) must have made this beat as Feel is a little over 6 weeks old! The song is definitely another slow jam which Tiller uses to tell his girl that he will buy her designer clothes and how good she looks in them especially True Religion jeans.

Fans of Bryson Tiller had been critical of the long wait for his album which he addresses on In Check. He blames the fairer sex for the long wait for his sophomore offering, as the women he chases would distract anyone from their profession. Tiller sings “Album, overdue. You would find it hard to focus too. If you met the women I have. Hard not to get side tracked.” I’m not sure if fans would find that as an acceptable but answer but at least Bryson is man enough to admit the reasons for his delay.

Self Made, Run Me Dry & High Stakes are the next bangers on the album with all three sure to have any club bouncing once fans learn the lyrics. Unfortunately this is where the albums length really starts to become a problem. Though it is only 58 minutes long Run Me Dry marks the half way point in the album. 9 songs in we still have another 10 tracks to listen to. Perhaps if some songs were released earlier as standalone singles and there were less songs the album may have been easier to listen to start to finish.

Another reason why the album feels so long is that. interloped throughout the album are interludes which aim to paint the narrative of Tiller’s relationship with an unknown female. On paper these skits may have seen like a good idea but there is little context as to if the entire album is about one woman or several.

Again the songs tend to drift into one another after this point in the album. By no means are the songs bad it’s just that it can at time be hard to decipher one song from another.

Somethin Tells Me may be the first single from the album but it doesn’t appear until the penultimate spot on the album. It is a catchy song for sure and is a good introduction to the sound of Bryson Tiller for those who are first time listeners. The theme of the album is clearly about two main things; Staying true to yourself and women. The latter is much harder to understand his perspective on the women in his life there are mixed messages throughout but the overarching theme appears to be that women are his biggest downfall.

Is True To Self better than Trapsoul? It’s very hard to say both albums highlight the fact that Bryson Tiller can make R&B bangers better than most; his work as a whole can often drift into background music as songs mould into each other. True To Self is a good album full of songs , but after listening to start to finish numerous times it is hard to deny it can sometimes feel longer than it needed to be. Perhaps Tiller was trying to make up for the time fans spent waiting for his second album.

Words – Martin Viashima @MartinViashima