Bryson Tiller returns with his highly-anticipated sophomore album ‘True to Self.’ Ultimately, it’s a mixed bag.
Louisville, Kentucky breakthrough Bryson Tiller did the ultimate – he dropped his sophomore album, True to Self, a month early! Savvy marketing on a quiet May 26 release date. Now the question is, is his sophomore album worthy of the hype? Um…
“Don’t Get Too High”
On “Rain on Me (Intro),” Tiller wants the relationship to survive and flourish, despite the mistakes he’s made. His willingness segues into “No Longer Friends,” which depicts a complicated relationship. He wants to be with her, but she’s got a man. In his eyes, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, this isn’t deep stuff. Nonetheless, the drama makes it entertaining.
On standout “Don’t Get Too High,” Tiller be wants to be with her (shocker), and feels he’s “the only drug” she needs. Cliché, but it is what is. “Blowing Smoke” is a logical follow up, with. Tiller tackling fakes and frauds. This is also cliché, but at least he gives a shout out to the 502 referencing the Gene Snyder Freeway.
“We Both Know”
“We Both Know” continues the surface level approach of True to Self. Summarizing the concept, Tiller and this girl have sex from time to time, but it doesn’t progress into anything serious. Yep, that suits the sentiment of this particular album. On “You Got It,” he feels like this particular girl possesses just what he needs. He’s willing to spoil her with material things and with sex – again. At least, it’s lushly produced, representative of the urban contemporary sound. The same can be said of “In Check,” which sounds like sex. Despite its deceptive sound, Tiller approaches it more emotionally, digging a bit deeper.
“Self-Made” goes harder. To quote Tiller: “I’ve been balling like I’m Curry, need a jersey for myself.” Call it arrogant, but he has a point. His debut album, TRAPSOUL blew up, period. “Run Me Dry” is a hate it or love it moment, thanks to the overplayed tropical sound. It’s a respectable change of pace, but still overplayed. “High Stakes,” recorded on his birthday, provides his testimony about coming up. It’s familiar stuff, but okay.
“Somethin Tells Me”
Tiller reflects on the potential repercussions of his poor choices on “Teach Me a Lesson.” Those repercussions are being single because his girl breaks up with him and finds a man who’ll treat her right. “Stay Blessed” is as lushly produced as anything else, but feels more nebulous than rigidly defined. It isn’t bad, but it’s not game changing either.
“Money Problems / Benz Truck” gives Tiller the trendy two-part track. “Money Problems” is harder, finding him rapping over an aggressive beat, later singing and pop-rapping. The second part, “Benz Truck,” still retains an edge, with Tiller rapping once more.
“Set It Off” is slower and luscious, but not ‘next-level.’ “Before You Judge” once more features a charged-up Tiller, who doesn’t like skeptics. Among the most interesting aspects of “Before You Judge” is the beef that he has with a former manager. Promo single “Somethin Tells Me” serves as the final full-length song of True to Self. Once more, it features excellent production work. Its use of synths and slick drum programming are perfect fuel for Tiller’s fire vocally. Like most of the album, it lacks depth. Regardless, it’s the best song from the album.
All in all, Bryson Tiller has a lot to offer. The problem lies in his execution and the material. True to Self has its moments, but too often overindulges in the production and vibe as opposed to delivering truly great, memorable songs. This effort is good enough, but not great.
Gems: “Don’t Get Too High,” “Blowing Smoke,” “Self-Made,” “Before You Judge” & “Somethin Tells Me”
Bryson Tiller • True to Self • RCA • Release: 5.26.17
Photo Credit: RCA
To read the full track-by-track analysis, check out Bryson Tiller, True to Self | Album Review, on The Musical Hype.