I first heard of Bryson Tiller back in March 2015, a few months after his now-breakout single “Don’t” began to make waves. The inaugural listen came at a time where I endured through a period of self-doubt stemming from a medley of personal issues. While displaying vulnerability in hip hop music has become the more popular format since a guy from Toronto burst onto the scene several years ago, it’s still relatively frowned upon in the hyper-machismo world of rap music and is usually reserved for morose-laden R&B songs.
Which makes Tiller’s brand of music both interesting and appealing to his legions of fans. Upon the release of his debut album T R A P S O U L, critics lauded its Drake-esque sonics (Bryson, at one point, was pursued by Drake’s OVO Sound label, but ultimately signed with RCA Records), but I wasn’t fully convinced until I attended his very first show in New York City a few weeks after the LP dropped. There, in the too-cramped-for-comfort quarters, the excitedly diverse crowd (which, surprisingly, was split down the middle between men and women) knew every word from an album that had been out for less than a month at the time).
Whether Tiller becomes another leader in this unorthodox hybrid of trap-inspired emo-mysteriousness, aggressive sexual bravado, quasi-minimalist form of “neo-alternative” R&B that musicians like PARTYNEXTDOOR, Kehlani and a variety of others now employ into their sound remains to be seen, but it appears that this definition-less, refreshing alternative is here to stay. The DopeHouse recently sat down with Bryson, where he would speak on some of the key songs from T R A P S O U L as well as the story behind the stories.
PRODUCED BY DOPEBOI
‘Don’t’ is the song that got me here. Even talking with you right now on this couch in New York City. I made that in the summer of 2014, and it was just a song that I never thought would go anywhere. I didn’t think any of this music would go anywhere, but it’s just crazy.
I gave up on music for two years. I think 2012-13. I was working at UPS for two years and then I got a full time job at Papa Johns before I quit to pursue music. I felt like people weren’t taking me serious no more. Some of the people that I was working with [on music] weren’t supporting me like they used to. I was like, ‘You know what? I need a real job anyway. I’m going to go focus on getting a real job, making money, and starting a life.’ I was 20 and I felt like I had to do something with my life.
Eventually I realized that working wasn’t enough. I hit rock bottom and I was like, ‘I can’t take this no more. I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to make something shake.’ I decided to get back into music.
I had a conversation with my boy on the phone. I was crying and telling him that I didn’t know what I was going to do. I asked if I could borrow $20, and he was just like, ‘I ain’t got it.’ He said: ‘Listen. All you need is one song. One song to change your life.’ He was right. I thanked him in my album booklet for that.
“SORRY NOT SORRY”
PRODUCED BY TIMBALAND & MILLI BEATZ
When I made ‘Sorry Not Sorry,’ I was experiencing triumph a little bit. It was like, “Wow. I’m making it.” And I hadn’t really made it at that point, but it was little things. A lot of my ex-girlfriends were hitting me up and stuff.
Timbaland called me while I was in a movie theater with my boy Rich actually. Rich is like my brother and he’s a good friend of Timbaland’s. He [Timbaland] called me and he’s like, ‘Yo I like that song ‘Don’t,’ man. You’ve got to come to Miami and work with me.’ So I flew down to Miami and I worked with him. He has a lot of energy. He’s always turnin’ up in the studio. He plays his beats really loud and he kills it, so it was dope. I was super nervous. We did ‘Been That Way,’ ‘Sorry Not Sorry,’ and a few other songs too.
I was still recording the same way I did it in Louisville – like I did it on my little equipment – but I was recording in a hotel in Miami. I had set two monitors and a mic. I don’t like being in big studios, but it was cool being in Miami. That’s why I think I was so inspired. I had started ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ at Timbaland’s beach house in Key Largo and then I brought it back to the hotel and finished it.