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by Lola Christina Alao

After a three year break, Bryson Tiller returns - and it was worth the wait.

Returning to our soundwaves with the release of his much anticipated new project, Anniversary, is Bryson Tiller. Featuring 10 tracks, Bryson first teased the album in the video for ‘Inhale’, the album’s lead single.

Often referred to as a cultural reset by R&B fans and enthusiasts, Bryson’s album Trapsoul is now five years old and still hasn’t aged. It features the three singles ‘Don’t’, ‘Exchange’ and ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ and has been named as his breakthrough to R&B. The album was also certified Triple Platinum by the RIAA. The iconic ‘Don’t’ was originally released back in 2014 on Bryson’s Soundcloud and takes listeners on a lyrical journey. The track accumulated 4 million streams in the first six months and eventually reached over 35 million streams. Starting with Bryson supposedly addressing his ex girlfriend’s current partner, warning him about how not to treat her. “Don’t, don’t play with her, don’t be dishonest / Still not understandin’ this logic”. During ‘Exchange’, Bryson reflects on a past relationship, an ode to an ex. “Lord, please save her for me, do this one favor for me / I had to change my player ways, got way too complicated for me / I hope she’s waiting for me”.

Having purchased a series of billboards in the lead up to the release of Anniversary, Bryson decided instead to dedicate them in memory of the late Breonna Taylor. “Dear Breonna Taylor,” one billboard read, “you’ve brought the city of Louisville together like I’ve never seen before, and we will never forget you…”

The album leads with ‘Years Go By’ which sets expectations for the rest of the album straight away. He addresses the time that has passed, “Years go by, where we at right now?” and reflects on the years that have gone by since the release of Trapsoul. He reveals that he has grown a lot since then and is back to make his mark. In the time Bryson was off the scene, other R&B singers such as Brent Faiyaz, Summer Walker and Kehlani have made their mark and the R&B scene has developed and evolved from what it previously was during the Trapsoul era.

‘Things Change’ and ‘Outta Time’ also look as though they’re set to be stand out hits. Outta time features Drake and they reminisce on their past failed relationships. Drake talks about his past relationship being “complicated” and “far from simple” and about toxic elements of their relationship. On securing the collaboration with Drake, Bryson explains that it was well overdue. He reveals that he was originally supposed to be on Drake’s More Life album but was in a “terrible mental space” and so couldn’t deliver a good verse. Regardless, they kept in contact over the years and eventually came together, using one of Drake’s recorded verses that was originally intended for the Serenity project. ‘Always Forever’ gives us insight into a relationship where the man is giving everything while the woman is just not giving enough, while in Sorrows, he expresses his fondness for someone he is no longer in a close relationship with, but will always be there for.

‘Inhale’ is a track that caught my attention, and led with the accompanying video, featuring stunning videography and spoken word by Brent Faiyaz at various points throughout. Bryson’s presence is strong in this track, and the song pans out to SWV’s ‘All Night Long’, giving it a very nostalgic, reminiscent feel.

Anniversary may not have the variation that Trapsoul had, but Trapsoul was a high standard to beat. Bryson’s success was so prominent in his early days, which is where the difficulty comes with living up to that success. The album does, however, show that Bryson is back and ready to start making hits again. In a tweet, he has also made hints about another potential album to be released this winter. He has a huge amount of potential as an artist, and makes the type of true R&B that so many can’t get enough of, maybe 2020 will be the year of slow burn comebacks after all.

ro.lexx for volume #21
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