Who is Bryson Tiller?
Where did he come from?
Those are the big questions surrounding hip hop/R&B's hottest act.
The Louisville, Ky., native was an unknown singer/songwriter up until he uploaded his song “Don’t” in October 2014. To date, the track has over 27 million streams, and the music video has over five million. Of course, he’s been working on music before “Don’t,” but all it takes is one song to grab the attention of the masses.
Tiller, who has nicknamed himself Pen Griffey, is only 22 years old. His music caters to listeners who have similar hip hop/R&B hybrid artists like Post Malone and Tory Lanez in their rotation. This is not traditional R&B, so you can dead the comparisons to the elite — Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Jeremih and any others you can name off DJ Khaled’s two smashes. He calls his music Trap Soul.
Tiller performed two sold-out shows – back to back – at SOBs in New York City on Wednesday night. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder, mixing in diehard fans with hip hop tastemakers. Inside, there was a flyer posted on one of the pillars that provided the definition of Trap Soul, almost like a beginner’s guide to the uninitiated. “The perfect marriage between hip hop and R&B.” It gave synonyms: “Trap.” “R&B.” “Soul.” “Music.”
His career has been covered extensively after “Don’t” bubbled from the Internet to IRL buzz. Apple Music gave us an early stream of Trapsoul in September, which was ahead of the physical release that dropped on Oct. 2 via RCA Records. Exactly 20 days later, his name is all over the place. We know the story about him turning down Drake’s offer to sign to OVO Sound and becoming RCA’s latest new act to watch out for. We know the story behind actor Sylvester Stallone giving him a shout-out on Twitter for his song “Rambo.” Now, it’s time for Tiller to add another chapter: Can he win over the notoriously tough NYC audience in his debut concert?
Clearly, Tiller practices what he preaches: He is Louie Slugger with the hits. The second show started a bit past 11:00 p.m., and the screams was deafening as he came out to take the stage. Wearing a hunter green flannel over a white Trap Soul tee and a black Nike hat, Tiller looked comfortable running through his songs. The crowd could not stop singing along to an album that’s only barely been out for three weeks, which proves that Trapsoul is about to be the soundtrack to cuffing season as the days get colder.
Out of all the songs Tiller performed, here are five that got the biggest reactions from the crowd. Add these to your playlist as you find your new cuddle buddy.
"Let ‘Em Know": As the first song performed, Tiller knows how to set the mood with a record filled with heavy 808s and sultry lyrics. This song is putting a boyfriend on notice that you’ll be coming for his girlfriend because she’s with the wrong person. So, if you got major feelings for someone, play this on repeat and go fight for her.
"Exchange": This song had EVERYONE recording it with their phones. That must mean its good, right? “Exchange” has similar vibes to Drake’s "Take Care." It’s atmospheric and moody. “Turn up with young Tiller, we just getting loose” is really a line we could imagine someone rapping during a “Netflix and chill” sesh. “So give me all of you in exchange for me / Just give me all of you in exchange for me, for me.” In other words, I’ll give you my all just to be with you.
"Sorry Not Sorry": The moment the crowd heard the Street Fighter sample, the energy level in the room skyrocketed. “Sorry Not Sorry” is about Tiller hurting a girl’s feelings because she wasn’t the one for him. The lyrics weren't the main focus last night as everyone was dancing and having fun. This is more of a pre-game song to get you amped up before going out with bae.
"Been That Way": At this point in the show, Tiller slowed things down to serenade us. He takes on a serious subject about being still in love with a past girlfriend long after they’ve broken up. For those who are thinking about giving a relationship another try, “Been That Way” will help you get through the journey.
"Don’t": This was the biggest hit of the night. The entire audience sang each verse in tandem, and rightfully so. It’s catchy. It’s infectious. It’s very personal. Tiller wishes to be with a girl after learning she’s been mistreated by her man. “Lately you say, he been killin’ the vibe / Gotta be sick of this guy / Pull up, skrrt, get in the ride / Left hand is steering, the other is gripping your thigh.” You only put this on if you mean business.
"Before we get up outta here, I just wanna say thank y'all for coming out to this show," he said. No Bryson, thank you for this season's cuffing anthems.
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(Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for vitaminwater)