The divide between hip-hop and rhythm and blues is getting smaller and smaller. More rappers are trying their hand at using different melodies, and many R&B singers are quickening their flows. Sub-genres like cloud-rap, contemporary R&B and neo soul are bridging the gap between the two once very different genres.
This movement is led by artists like The Weeknd, Fetty Wap and Drake, but sees many more artists coming forward with their own unique twists on the style. One such artist is Bryson Tiller, who pioneers an entirely new genre with his debut album “Trapsoul,” stylized as “T R A P S O U L”.
Tiller takes the smooth, airy synths of R&B and mixes them with hard-hitting bass and kick drums to produce a sound similar to PartyNextDoor and Jeremih, though distinguished by clearer vocals and heavier rap influences. The Louisville, Kentucky native broke onto the scene with his single “Don’t,” which currently has 26 million plays on SoundCloud.
The vibrant, moody single sets the tone for “Trapsoul,” an album filled with atmospheric and sultry cuts from a newcomer who has already almost perfected the rapping/singing combo.
“Trapsoul” has 14 tracks long with no features. The album opens with the slow burning intro “Difference” before seamlessly going into “Let ‘Em Know,” an upbeat song warning competition to stay away from his lady. The middle of the album is filled with swoon-worthy songs like “Exchange” and “The Sequence.” Tiller addresses his flaws and speaks to women on these tracks about how he’s bettering himself to become better than other guys. But with songs like “Rambo” and “502 Come Up,” Tiller brings out the trap in “Trapsoul.” Brazen beats and braggadocio lines fill up these songs as he describes his grind and journey from working at Papa John’s to getting shout outs from Drake and Timbaland.
The album winds down with more traditional R&B tracks like “Been That Way” and “Overtime.”. The closing track “Right My Wrongs” is the most somber, with lines like “Feels like you don’t got me so you feel like you’ve been by yourself, I’ve been feeling kinda down myself.” The introspective track concludes a terrific ride through Tiller’s love, struggle and pain, and serves as a perfect outro.
What really makes “Trapsoul” special is the lyricism. Throughout the entirety of the album, Tiller stays humble. He doesn’t croon about having sex with a boat-load of women all the time, he sings about treating his one girl right. When he does brag in his raps, he brags about his own personal accomplishments, not being greater than everyone else. Tiller airs out his insecurities on this album, a rarity for a hip-hop or R&B debut album. He straddles the line between sounding depressing and sounding like a show-off, crafting one of the most relatable albums in a long time.
The only issue I have with the album is a few songs sound a bit redundant and similar. The middle portion of the album, while filled with fantastic songs like “Don’t” and “Exchange,” is a bit of a lull. Nevertheless, “Trapsoul” is a gorgeous album, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Bryson Tiller really is “the hottest thing out of Louisville since Muhammad Ali.”