From getting a monumental co-sign from Timbaland and Drake early on in his career to having three songs claim the No. 1 slot on Billboard's Emerging Artists chart to taking a note from J. Cole's book by way of debuting an LP without any features, it's indisputable that 2016 has been very kind to 23-year-old singer-songwriter Bryson Tiller thus far.
We can now add winning BET’s coveted Best New Artist Award and Best Male R&B/Pop Artist Award at the 2016 BET Awards to his growing repertoire, further proving anyone still sleeping on his artistry better wake up soon. For someone who released his debut album, T R A P S O U L, a mere nine months ago, there’s simply no denying his stardom.
After accepting his award for Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, Tiller kept his acceptance speech short and sweet.
"This is my first award ever," he said, grinning. "I just wanted to say thank you."
The singer’s hit single “Don’t” currently has over 45 million plays on SoundCloud and helped put him on Timbaland’s radar. Since the internet started to catch on to the wave Tiller was riding, it's been impressive watching his career grow to new heights in such a short amount of time.
Tiller’s style marries trap, R&B and hip-hop in a way distinctly his own, with an emphasis on emotional lyrics, which naturally had Drake jonesing to sign him to his label, OVO Sound. Tiller turned down Drizzy’s offer, instead taking a deal with RCA, taking the advice of veteran producer 40 who told him he “hadn’t seen a deal like this in a long time.”
While the humble singer said the decision was a difficult one, after signing to RCA, his debut album went on to climb to the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s R&B chart and No. 11 in the Billboard 200 chart.
Tiller has continued to win over listeners with his promising talent, selling out every show on his first national and international tour. After selling out a show in London one minute after tickets were made available to purchase, his dedicated following in the UK was forever solidified. Due to his high demand back in the States as well, Tiller ended up adding additional shows in New York City, first selling out two shows at Webster Hall and then selling out two shows at the legendary Radio City Music Hall.
His live shows are an important component to his star power because of his natural ability to resonate emotionally with fans, putting on a performance that doesn’t require bells and whistles to get his message across. His success as a performer lies simply in his soul-touching ability to connect with listeners in a way that R&B in 2016 desperately needs.
Epic little victories aside, it wasn't an easy road for the Louisville, Kentucky, native by any means. From sleeping in his car to quitting music upon learning his girlfriend was pregnant, he has had to make his fair amount of sacrifices and risks. After working full time at Papa John's and making music from his living room, learning about his come-up story makes it even easier to root for the rising artist.
Despite his successes, Tiller, at the end of the day, really is living out his intention to make the world a better place through his music.
"I want to inspire people to change the world," Tiller shared in an interview. "That’s something that I feel that I’m meant to do here. I asked God to make me immortal so I can do it."
With music journalists comparing him to the likes of some of R&B’s strongest contemporary voices, including The Weeknd and Jeremih, he also comes off as refreshingly vulnerable, making it easy for fans to feel as though they are getting to know the true Tiller.
From his laid-back personality to the way he conveys his emotions through his lyrics, Tiller is the real deal.
Congrats on taking home your first BET Awards, Bryson! May there be many more in your future.
(Photo: Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)