Home to the Cardinals, Wildcats and the annual derby, Kentucky isnt the quintessential hub for R&B and hip-hop talent.
Yet, 22-year-old singer/songwriter/rapper, Bryson Tiller, has emerged from the streets of Louisville with his own brand of
street soul that musically blends the
urgency of trap music with the smoother sound of alternative R&B. Reared on the slow jams of 112, Dru Hill, Chris Brown and
Omarion, Tiller realized his talent as a teen, serenading his female classmates and eventually creating his first recordings
at a friends makeshift studio.
I went over to my homies house to record this song that he wanted to feature me on, and next thing you know, everyone
at school was talking about it. We received both positive and negative feedback for the song, and that only made me want to
get back in the studio and get better.
Raised by his grandmother after his mother passed away when he was four years old, Tiller did little else than stay home,
play video games and write music. After borrowing 600 dollars from a friend, he copped a mic, an interface, mic stand, filter
and a laptop to piece together his own
material. Visions of Soulja Boys Internet success danced in the back of his mind as he grabbed industry beats from YouTube
and free downloadable tracks from SoundClick (an ecommunity reminiscent of the early music MySpace) and hummed melodies into
the mic before uploading them on SoundCloud. Finally, the shy introvert found his outlet.
Im not very expressive in relationships and just in day-to-day talking to people, admits Tiller. So
I use my songs to express myself and really get my point across. His messages on wax dont require rocket science
to understand. Whether creating a scarecrow for gold diggers with the Street Fighter-sampled Sorry Not Sorry or
talking that talk in bars on Dont Worry / Molly, Tillers narratives are transparent and highly relevant
for young Millennials on a mission in either life or love. Throw in 808s and Tiller will deliver what he calls trap
soul. Its just trap and hip hop-influenced R&B, the perfect marriage between hip hop and R&B he
says of his go-to formula for songs.
On October 9, 2014, Tiller released his biggest track to date, a self-reflective slow burner entitled Dont,
which has garnered over 22 million listens on SoundCloud, an Instagram shout out from super-producer Timbaland and a direct
message on Twitter from Drake, one of Tillers
biggest musical influences. Self-recorded and mixed in his modest Louisville living room studio, the online success of Dont
came as a surprise to the young artist and indirectly confirmed Tillers life goals: make music that resonates.
With his ability to switch up from soft and tender R&B to braggadocious rap effortlessly, Tiller has earned the nickname Pen
Griffey, a baseball influenced moniker that speaks not only to his proficiency as a songwriter, but to his roots in Louisville
- home of the famous Louisville
Slugger bat. A self proclaimed culture nerd, Bryson also cites video games, comic books, indie films and Japanese
anime as inspirations for his unique style. But hes quick to tell you that hes a self-made man. I do everything
myself, he says of recording his forthcoming album.
Though mapping out five-year plans isnt his style, the father of a two-year-old daughter who juggled part-time gigs
for UPS, Papa Johns and a moving company barely a year ago to make ends meet is now realizing how drastically his life
has changed. I read an article in Forbes entitled Six Ways To Achieve Any Goal and it really inspired me
and helped me get to where I am today. The Forbes piece outlined effective ways for readers to set and achieve life
goals, stressing long term vision-planning and the concept of making an overall commitment to ones self. Its
been a year and some change since I read that article. Now everything is completely different but Im still not
satisfied. Im very grateful, but I have a new set of goals that Im trying to accomplish by this time next year.