Bryson Tiller, ‘T R A P S O U L’ – Review (Short Take)


Bryson Tiller, T R A P S O U L © Bryson Tiller / RCA

Kentucky Bred Bryson Tiller Shows Both Potential and Room For Improvement 

Bryson Tiller • T R A P S O U L • Bryson Tiller / RCA • Release Date: 9.25.2015 

When a fellow Kentuckian is in the spotlight (for something positive), there’s an obligation to support and rally behind that person. Bryson Tiller is from Louisville, and it’s been a while since Kentucky has been associated with an up and coming musician, particularly one that doesn’t employ pedal steel, banjos, or fiddles (no shade).   Tiller is best described as a hip-hop artist, blending R&B and rap. Tiller shows us that the “502” can deliver musical talent – Tiller’s T R A P S O U L recently landed at #11 on the Billboard 200.

So with the appropriate accolades given to Tiller, how does T R A P S O U L as an album stack up? Well…um… it’s centered on clichés honestly. Calling T R A P S O U L “tried and true” isn’t appropriate, but basically Tiller doesn’t do much to go beyond what other folks have already done more proficiently. Tiller, who has been endorsed by Drake, incorporates a similar delivery and approach, which isn’t bad, but the problem is, there’s nothing that necessarily jumps out and changes the game.

Being positive first, Tiller has a fine voice – perfectly attuned for the modern strain of R&B. This is constant even when the material is so-so. Can he rap? Yes, though sometimes the question is where is the substance and depth. He checks off singing and rapping boxes, which is at least half the battle, right? Furthermore, the backdrop – aka the production – is great. So judge T R A P S O U L as having lots working for it.

But, the big problem, once again is the material, as well as Tiller establishing his own artistic identity. After listening, very little sticks, which is something that Tiller will have to address with forthcoming albums. He does well for himself a couple of times, such as the draggy “Let Em Know,” attention-getting hit “Don’t” or the faux-apologetic “Sorry Not Sorry,” but it just doesn’t happen enough. Furthermore, a filthy mouth isn’t atonement when the material is so-so and sound/vibe will only get you so far.

Honestly, T R A P S O U L’s flaws aren’t far removed from those experienced by alt-R&B singer The Weeknd. His proper debut Kiss Land was rough around the edges, coming nowhere near experiencing the success or hits of Beauty Behind The Madness. Obviously, sophomore effort Beauty Behind The Madness was a better, more memorable offering. Could we be saying the same about album two from Tiller?

So is T R A P S O U L hit or miss? At best it’s in the middle, but T R A P S O U L does show potential, which means a lot. Is the Kentucky born and bred music journalist hating on the Kentucky bred hip-hop artist? Nope – just trying to help a brother step up his game to the next level next round!

Favorites: “Let Em Know,” “Don’t” and “Sorry”

★★½

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