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Bryson Tiller

When Don’t dropped on Soundcloud back in 2014, it was an introduction to a sound people were unfamiliar with. Cut to a good few years later, the “Trap Soul” genre is one of the many fusions and cross blends of musical genres one has seen since then. And one of the people at the beginning of this musical wave was Bryson Tiller.

Bryson Tiller is synonymous with the Trap Soul movement and the blend of R&B, Hip-Hop, Rap, and sounds. However, artists like him, 6LACK, and countless others came onto the scene with a different vibe that wasn’t quite straight hip-hop but also infused with this singing melodic R&B essence they throw in there.

Having been on this wave since then, it has put him in a space that separated him from the rest. His debut album, T R A P S O U L and its follow-ups True to Self and A N N I V E R S A R Y is the unexpected trilogy that has always made people’s ears perk up. Not to mention his countless features, including the likes of Jazmine Sullivan, Drake, Rihanna, Summer Walker, and H.E.R, to name a few and single drops over the years, you can’t deny that he has been that guy.

And so, having embraced this over the past seven years, the time has come for Bryson to enter the next chapter of his career. With the release of his T R A P S O U L 5-year deluxe edition and his anniversary project appropriately titled A N N I V E R S A R Y, Bryson is turning a new leaf and, in his words doing “whatever the fuck I want to do”. Including a mixtape, a Christmas album and now his latest single, Outside, which hints at things to come.

Outside offers a peak at what fans and people alike can expect of the next Bryson era, with a new album on the way. I spoke with Bryson over zoom and discussed everything from the new single, the legacy of T R A P S O U L, the pressure, the next chapter and more. 



You celebrated the 5th anniversary of T R A P S O U L in 2020, and I want to back to when you first put out the album and what that experience was like with how you found that came. 

For my first album, I knew I wanted not to sing as much, and this was with the music I was making before T R A P S O U L. And then when I got to T R A P S O U L, and I started getting into that process where I was doing less singing, and blending rap with R&B and just leaning on my bars, I knew that was the direction that I wanted to go in for the album. That became what I was known for, and now I’m in a place where I am getting away from that. So I’m not rapping as much as it is mostly R&B and, you know, going back to my roots and paying a lot of homage to many great sounds I’ve heard throughout my lifetime. 


As one of the artists that came in and did this thing your way. What would you say are some of the changes for you, considering how much the landscape has changed in the time since you first started?

I think the most significant change is my belief in myself. Believing who I am, believing in who I thought I was when I first came into the game. I was making this stuff, and I almost didn’t believe it even with T R A P S O U L. I think it took a second and then I saw other people were doing the same things. But also, I was reading negative feedback and stuff like that, which took my competence away. So I think the most significant change now is my confidence level and belief in who I am. I’m very comfortable in this space, unlike 2015 and 2016, where I was, you know, clearly uncomfortable with it, whether it was doing interviews or being on stage. Even with that, it is something that I’m still trying to get comfortable with.  



You released your new single, Outside and starting from there, how did it come together? 

I was in the studio earlier this year, maybe in January, by myself, and I realised that I was just bored of doing the same thing over and over. I’ve been making music by myself for a long time now, and I just told my manager, Neil, I was like, in order for me to get back in the studio, I need to bring some songs that are going to get me excited. And one of the first songs he brought me was the song Outside, and it was exciting because it was different from what I’m used to doing. People are used to hearing like, you know, feels records for me and whatnot, but I feel like this is the polar opposite, like anti-feels. And that’s what got me excited. So I got in the studio immediately, started recording it, and now we are here.


Was the song’s sound intentional in how it differs so much from what people are used to?

Absolutely. I wanted to put that whole trap soul thing to bed and close that chapter. So we did it on the fifth anniversary, but I had already set new plans and told myself that, you know, for the next album, I would be taking my fans to a new place, and I think we did that with this album. 



Why did this song feel like this was the one to introduce this new chapter for you? 

It’s a different sound. And I think my goal with it was to just kind of shake shit up a little bit. I don’t want to give people what they’re used to hearing from me. I want to shake it up and remove the expectations people have from me, and you know people are expecting those feelings, which we still have. But I wanted to do something fun and very different from what I’m used to usually doing. I love to stand out from everything else, and I feel like that song – that beat alone was just a standout. It’s a fun song you might want to hear at parties or in the car. But we also brought, you know, vocals and, you know, a lot of dope R&B elements to make it feel good. Yeah. 


You have the Ying Yang Twins Sample in the song, but were they any specific influences that helped craft the song and have inspired the new direction you are going in?

Yeah, definitely; I think there was a lot; I feel like just listening to my peers and studying them has inspired me, like JB (Justin Bieber), who has done R&B and pop. And even when he does R&B, people call it pop, which is crazy because he makes amazing R&B music shout out to Poo Bear, and Chris Brown. He’s another great example of someone who does everything; you know, he’s just an artist. I’ve always described myself as that, and people have always come to me and asked me, “Are you a rapper, or are you a singer?” Like, I don’t know where to place you. And I tell people that I’m just an artist, man. Like, if I see a canvas and paint, I never know what will end up on that. That canvas is exciting every time I walk into the studio because it’s like the possibilities are endless. 


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For someone who was part of the birth of the Trap Soul genre blend. Do you feel there is pressure in making the type of music thats expected from you? How has that affected the way you make music?

Well, it is something that I’ve felt for a while. However, I think that after A N N I V E R S A R Y I just said, okay, now I’m going to do whatever the fuck I want to do. So when I made the second Killer Instinct mixtape, that was me rapping over whatever beats I was feeling. And then I said, I want to make a Christmas album, so I did, which also enforced the idea that I’m going to do what I want to do, not what you guys want me to do. There was this quote that motivated me to do so, and it said “Don’t stop when you want to quit; stop when you’re done” there’s been a lot of times that I wanted to quit, and I wanted to stop, but I’m like there’s so much left to do that I have not done yet, and I need to do those first before I can leave this, leave the game. And now I have that pressure as much on me because I’m just creating freely. So I have peace of mind when it comes to me when it comes to making music; I don’t think about the outside world or what people might think or what they want from me. I don’t care; I’m just making music that makes me feel good. 


There’s always this shift when artists depart from what people know them for and do something that fans may not expect, and
A N N I V E R S A R Y felt like it was hinting towards the change that was to come whilst also wrapping up an era. So, how significant was that album for this next chapter?

A N N I V E R S A R Y I feel like, was very significant, and I was very intentional in how I made it because people always have me telling me to look back toward that sound-specific sound and, you know, recreating that. But, you know, the point of the album, the theme throughout that album is time, and the one thing that none of us can do is go back in time, so it’s like even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to recreate that. Like the things people were going through when they heard those songs, and you know the things that I was going through and the person I was is very different. So, even if I was to drop a T R A P S O U L as a brand new album right now, I feel it wouldn’t be the same. And you know there just no way to recreate the past; everybody goes through different things, and so with 

A N N I V E R S A R Y, I feel that was me looking back towards it like, hey, this is the end of this chapter, and now we’re moving forward. 


What do you want people to get from the new album? 

I want people to realise that I am a true artist. You know, I’m not one thing. I’m many things. I love all sounds from all different genres. People like Fleetwood Mac, Lil Boosie, Drake, Lizzy McAlpine, Tyler the Creator, and Frank Ocean. I love everything, and I want to continue to show that throughout my career in the best way possible while remaining true to myself and, you know, true to my sound. Because I’ll always be me at the end of the day, I’ll always be the same voice you heard back then. 


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How has being able to express yourself in your music helped you become the person you are? 

Being confident in my music alone has helped me realise that I need to be confident and everything else in my life, so it’s helped me with that. I have two daughters, and I used to always think about it when I didn’t have confidence. I was sad and depressed, and you know I was even more depressed because I was like, man, how am I going to teach these two daughters that I have whenever they’re not feeling the prettiest or they’re not feeling talented or smart enough or whatever? And me using music to get over that and realising who I am has helped me become a better father. In the future, I’m setting myself up for those conversations with my daughters to teach them how to overcome certain things. Music has shaped me as an individual, especially, especially lately.  


What expectations do you have as you move on to the next phase in your career? 

My biggest expectation and wish for this next album is that I want everybody to hear it. One thing I know about myself is that people can say about me you could say anything about me or my music, even if they don’t like it or anything. But one thing you can’t say is that I don’t have potential, and I think with this album, it’s not potential anymore. No, I’m doing this, and you see it. So my expectations are, like I said, I want people to be able to live with the music, but I want everybody to hear, and I’m excited I’m proud of this album. It’s the proudest I have ever been of an album thus far. 


Following the single and the upcoming album, what can we expect next? 

You can expect the visuals for many of the songs we have on the project. I’m planning it out right now. So, you know, you can also look forward to that and the tour. I’m thinking about everything in advance. I used to like wait until it was a week before it was about to happen or we needed to start talking about it. But now I’m digging up everything in advance, and like, it’s just because of my experience in the music industry, we’re like, I’m ready for it for everything. So tour in 20233. Album is coming soon, I don’t have a date for that yet, but I’m excited to announce that when it comes together


Outside is out now, follow Bryson Tiller via @brysontiller


Interview Seneo Mwamba

Photography Ro.lexx



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