Nearly six years ago, Bryson Tiller became famous practically overnight after releasing his hit song, “Don’t,” on SoundCloud.
Since then, the R&B rapper from Louisville, Kentucky, has climbed his way up in the music world with three albums, multiple singles and features in more than 20 songs. He sits at the edge of global fame, yet it is unclear whether his most recent album will launch him over the edge.
Tiller’s most recent album, “Anniversary,” was released on Oct. 2, 2020. The album should be listened to multiple times, as the first time around was not impressive; it tends to grow on listeners after a few playbacks, especially for fans of R&B.
Tiller has a smooth, distinctive style of R&B rapping and carefully crafted lyrics, which has always drawn me to him. The tracks in “Anniversary” have classic 808s and static noise, a quality often found in SoundCloud beats. This stylistic choice is a common theme found across much of his work.
The album cover of “Anniversary” shows Tiller saturated in a blue tint and facing off to the left, which appears to be a mirrored image of Tiller from his debut album, “Trapsoul.” The artistic display infers that he might be going back to his roots and rapping about topics such as love and heartbreak.
Tiller, who shared a deep connection to his late grandmother, dedicated his latest album to her. The track, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing,” begins with a voicemail from his grandmother and the rest of the song goes into depth about how much she believed in and supported him throughout his journey to success.
In the album, Tiller is very vocal about his internal struggle of time passing by too quickly. The 27-year-old rapper presumably has plenty of time left in his life, yet many of the songs such as, “Outta Time” or “Years Go By,” suggest his time is running out.
“Outta Time” is the only song from “Anniversary” that features another artist. Drake can be heard backing up Tiller, as their sleek voices blend well together. As one of the best songs from the album, the two artists rap about playing games with a woman and attempting to leave a toxic relationship.
“Sorrows” is another notable song from the album. Tiller sings about a lover who is slipping away because his sorrows are getting in the way of his relationship.
“Know there’s been somebody else since me, babe,” Tiller sings, alluding to his paranoia that the woman might have her eyes on someone else.
On Oct. 22, Tiller dropped his music video for “Always Forever.” The video features Tiller and singer-songwriter, Kehlani, portrayed as a couple who share a deep physical connection, while lacking an emotional connection. The video, which displays intriguing visuals, jumps to different scenes of their strained relationship, with their facial expressions showing that they do not want to address the situation, despite knowing that there is something wrong.
Prior to the release of his sophomore album in 2017, “True to Self,” Bryson Tiller struggled with depression and kept it a secret until after the release. Now, Tiller appears to be doing better mentally, spending time with his two daughters and giving frequent updates to his supportive fans through social media.
Following a three year hiatus, I am slightly disappointed in Tiller’s new work. When comparing “Anniversary” to his first album, “Trapsoul,” they both have similar vibes, but it is clear that Tiller held back, since much of the album lacks variety.
Nonetheless, “Anniversary” serves as a beautiful tribute to Tiller’s grandmother and there are some notable songs that are worth checking out. It took me a few listens to fully enjoy the album, but I am hopeful that this is merely a preview of what is to come.