Bryson Tiller Announces New Album Details and Opens Up About Overcoming Criticism

Bryson Tiller discusses the highs and lows of his career and reveals plans for his self-titled album, arriving April 5.

Bryson Tiller wants you to remember who he is.

It’s been four years since the R&B hitmaker released his last album, Anniversary, and he’s here to reintroduce himself with his upcoming self-titled album, Bryson Tiller, arriving on April 5.

“I felt like now is the time to just show people what I'm capable of,” Tiller exclusively told Complex about his fourth studio album, hinting that the album is predominantly “R&B infused” and will cover a lot of stylistic territory.

The 31-year-old artist established himself nearly a decade ago after his song “Don’t” tilted R&B on its axis in 2015, and his debut album Trapsoul helped carve out a new lane in the genre that rising artists like 4batz are occupying now. Despite Tiller’s success, however, the road hasn’t been easy. His debut album Trapsoul is fondly appreciated by fans today, but he remembers the negative comments following its release, and even though the follow-up project True To Self went No. 1, he still hates it because of the choices he made based on the criticism he’d received.

“[True To Self] taught me why it is important to remain true to yourself, because I wasn't being true to myself on that album at all,” he says now, acknowledging that he let too much negative feedback dictate his creative process. “I was saying a lot of truth, but not being true to who I am. It's not me really understanding who I am as an artist and what I'm capable of.”

In 2024, Tiller is in a much more confident headspace. Over the past few months, he’s been releasing installments of a rap-leaning mixtape series called Slum Tiller on SoundCloud as a way to side-step the laborious sample clearance process and drop music on his own time. So far, it’s been a successful experiment. His latest hit record, “Whatever She Wants” from Slum Tiller Vol. 2, has been steadily gaining steam on SoundCloud since November, before blowing up on an even larger scale when it was released on streaming in February. Tiller makes it clear that the viral song isn’t a reflection of what Bryson Tiller will entirely sound like, but it’s a reminder of his versatility, demonstrating how he can make rap songs that are just as strong as his R&B tracks. 

Despite how humble Tiller is, he says this new album is all about him, and the project will only have one guest feature: Victoria Monét. “I’m a little impatient sometimes when it comes to features,” he says, explaining why the tracklist won’t be full of guests. “I'll be in the studio and I'll have a song with an open verse. I’ll want maybe two different artists on it and I'm just like, ‘I can rap too, I’m probably better than that person, so I'm going to just do it myself.’ But also I really just want this album to be about myself more than anything, so I don't want to bring too many people in.”

Tiller says this will be the last album he’ll drop “for a while,” because he plans on taking a hiatus from music to focus on his daughters and his love for video game design, but the new music should more than satisfy the current hunger from fans. With his fourth studio album, Bryson Tiller, officially arriving on April 4 (and a self-titled tour set to kick off on May 11), Complex spoke with him about his journey up to this point, initially deleting “Don’t” off SoundCloud, his plans for the album, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.


Bryson Tiller announces details for his upcoming self-titled album #brysontiller out April 5. Check out the full interview with @Bryson Tiller on Complex

♬ original sound - Complex

You recently said that you’ll be talking a whole lot of shit this year. How did you reach this mentality of feeling “unstoppable”?
Just a lot of turmoil and things that I went through in my life. From 2017 through 2020 was the time period of my life where I was like, “I really need to figure something out.” My grandma passed in 2020 and I was like, “Yo, everything has to be different from here on out.” It started with the song that I made on my third album Anniversary called “Like Clockwork.” When I was making that deluxe, I felt myself coming back. I felt confident, and I made my grandma a promise that I'll never doubt myself ever again. The day she died, I made her that promise, and it's just been a snowball effect ever since 2020. My confidence is just growing.

Why is now the time right for this new album?
This is the time for me to show people what I'm capable of as an artist. I've been doing it by myself for years. Since my first very first album, Trapsoul, it’s just been me in the studio writing my stuff—not producing it, but just writing stuff, arranging stuff—and I got to a point where I was like, “Man, everybody else and all my other peers, they're not doing it by themselves.” They're working with people, and they should be working with people, because music is a collaborative thing. And I finally was just like, “You know what, it's my turn to collaborate with some people that I respect.” And it's time to show people that I know how to make some shit.

Do you have a title for the new album in mind?
This album is just called Bryson Tiller. It's a self-titled album. It’s all the things that Bryson Tiller is capable of.

Why did you choose to make this a self-titled album?
I felt like it wasn't time to try to get people to believe in some new concept or some new world that I'm trying to create. I felt like now is the time to just show people what I'm capable of. There's a lot of different types of music on this album. Most of it is R&B-infused, but a lot of different sounds. If you love all music then you'll probably love most of it. I wanted to show where I could go with it if I chose to. I could go make a whole album like “Whatever She Wants,” or I could make a whole album like the song I have with Victoria [Monét], and there's just a lot of different ways I could go. People love to just box me in and just say Trapsoul, Trapsoul, Trapsoul. I always say I'm very thankful for [Trapsoul], but Bryson Tiller is not Trapsoul. Trapsoul is Bryson Tiller. I made it, but that's not my identity. That’s not who I am.

What’s the most exciting feature that you have on this album?
Victoria Monét.

Are you rapping on that track, and she’s handling the singing? Or are you both singing?
Yeah, we both sing. But I'm rapping mostly.

After all these years of featuring yourself on the album cover, are you going to flip the script with this one and not include yourself for your self-titled LP?
Nah, I have to be on the cover. It's all about visibility and awareness and I want everybody to know who I am. My No. 1 goal with this album is just for everybody on Earth to hear it one time. My guarantee is that they'll love [at least] one song. That's my guarantee for this album: you will love one song. If you listen to the whole thing and hate it all, I'd be very surprised.

“Whatever She Wants” is climbing the charts right now, but you said it actually doesn’t sound anything like what’s on the upcoming album. 
Not at all. That was made for Slum Tiller, which was my mixtape. It was me having fun. I went to the studio and made that song in like 10 minutes or something like that—just having fun. I was in strip clubs a lot at that time in my life, and I was just seeing what the dancers were gravitating towards, and I knew that I wanted to do that type of sound. And obviously Slum Tiller is a play on Slum Village, so I was like, “I'm gonna remake some classic Slum Village songs.” It’s nothing like what's on the album at all, but the album is about versatility, so that shows how versatile I can be. People never expected me to make that type of song, but I like to make everything. Whatever inspires me.

There were rumors a few years back about you working on a project that would be a triple disc, with rap, pop, and R&B. Does this new project take any influence from that?
I'm glad you asked that, because people keep thinking that my next album is that, but it's not. I shelved that album a while back, actually right after the Christmas album. I was like, “As much as I want to do Serenity, I don't feel like I'm there yet mentally.” I want to make that particular album when I really feel like I achieved a peace of mind. And I do feel like I've achieved that, but I really just want to make that album when I'm not doing it for money at all. I want to make it just for the art of it, and don't get me wrong, my new album is for the art, but I'm just playing a different game now with this particular album.

I have so much music for Serenity, though. I was like, I might as well just make Serenity one album, and then maybe with this next album, there's a lot of R&B sprinkled throughout it. And then maybe my next album [after that] will be the Slum Tiller album, which will be a rap album. And then the next one could be a pop album. 

Have Tiller Tuesdays been a preview to the kinds of sounds you’re playing with on this new album?
Not necessarily, but it’s there to kind of shake people up and break shit up. I don't want you to expect anything from me. When people ask me what to expect from the new album, I say, “Expect the unexpected,” because I'm just going to go where the wind blows me.

“Diamond Tester” has been my favorite one so far, and it was hilarious that you sampled that old video of ASAP Rocky in the beginning. Why did you choose to go with that sample?
Because this year is just all about my name, Bryson Tiller. And I don't care what people are saying about me, as long as you're saying my name. I remember seeing that video back in 2016 and he said my name in that video, and there were a lot of people making videos like that, which is cool, but seeing him do it was funny. I remember being young and being like, “I don't know what Rocky’s talking about? He has way more women than me.” It was just funny to see. That is a question that I felt like people were asking: “Who is Bryson Tiller?” And I feel like people are still asking that. They might look at me as a thing of the past and be like, “Oh yeah, he's done. He's washed.” I just think it's dope that there are still so many people who don't know my name or have never heard my music and I'm excited to hear those people ask that same question: “Who is Bryson Tiller?” My people and my demographic all know who I am by now, or they know who I was, but it's time for a new era.

Have you and Rocky ever talked about that clip?
No, we never talked about that. It was just funny as hell.

On your two Weirdo Wednesday tracks, you’re taking a more pop approach. Was that intentional?
Yeah, and then there was “Set You Up,” which was kind of afrobeats infused. I just wanted to kind of break things up. I might be rapping this week, and next week, I might be singing. Then it might be melodic rap the next week. I don't want people to expect one thing when it comes to this album [Bryson Tiller]

On the Slum Tiller series you’ve been dropping on SoundCloud, it sounds like you’re tapping into an older bag that you haven’t touched in a while. What made you tap into that pocket?
I was coming off a tour out in London, and I was going through some personal things. The main thing was that I was tired of just getting all my samples from my album denied and having to wait. The first single that I dropped from my new album was a song called “Outside,” and we were supposed to follow it up with a couple of other singles, but then some of our other favorite songs from the album just kept getting denied. And I was just like, “Oh my God,” I had to start all over.

I just reached a point where I was like: You know what, I'm going back to when I was in the slums, young, and didn't have nothing—just me and my SoundCloud. I'm just going to make music and put it on here. I'm not going to mix it. I'm not going to do nothing. I'm going to go in the studio, record, and when I'm done with it, I'm gonna upload it because that's how simple it should be.

But when you sign to a label, there's this whole process with signatures and contracts and percentages and all types of shit that just make music so boring to me. I just wanted to keep going, so I put out Slum Tiller Vol 1. The fans are loving it. Obviously there were a lot of fans who were upset because they wanted to hear R&B stuff, but I didn't really care because rap was just super easy to make, and I'd rather just do this and give my fans something. Then I told them that I was gonna give them three volumes of it, and the second volume is when I made “Whatever She Wants” and four other songs.

At this very moment, how many albums do you think you have left in you?
I would love for this one [Bryson Tiller] to be the last one for a while. I've been saying that regardless if it performs well or not. This is probably gonna be my last one for a minute. I just want to take a hiatus because my No. 1 passion is video games. I'm a designer in my spare time. I've been designing a game for the past three years. I've been looking into internships for different companies.

That's what I want to prioritize after this album comes out. Obviously I'm going to go out and touch the people, see the world, and tour as much as I can. But I want to focus on first getting closer to my daughters. My oldest daughter is 10 years old now, and I'm tired of telling her that I have to work, or I have to be in the studio and make an album, before we can hang out. I'm just getting tired of telling her that. 

Game design is super cool because I could do it from anywhere. I could be next to her while she's gaming, working on my game. It's just what I love to do. It doesn't feel like work. And don't get me wrong, music sometimes doesn't feel like work, but I would say about 90% of the time it feels like a job, and I would say people have just sucked the fun out of it for me. A lot of people are just like, “Do this, do that. Do this one thing, make this type of album, make this type of music. Don't do this,” and I get tired of hearing it because it just gets boring for me. I don't want do this shit no more.

Do accolades like having a No. 1 record or winning a Grammy move you anymore?
My first No. 1 album was True To Self, and I didn't even know what a No. 1 was, to be honest with you. I was super confused about it, and I remember [DJ] Khaled called me one time and he explained what it was, congratulating me, and I still didn't even really know how to process it. I just saw everybody screaming and yelling. But now I just do it for the art. I obviously would love some commercial success because that's why I do it, right? I want to be able to support my family, but at the same time, as long as I changed some people's lives or I made somebody feel how I felt making music or coming on my shows, I'm happy with that. I'm good with that. 

You’ve said you hate True To Self. Do you think you could ever grow to like it?
No, I don't think so. I can appreciate it for sure because it's all about balance. [True To Self] taught me why it is important to remain true to yourself, because I wasn't being true to myself on that album at all. I was just saying a lot of truth, but not being true to who I am. It's not me really understanding who I am as an artist and what I'm capable of. And even when I looked in the mirror, I didn't see what everybody else saw, and my confidence was shot from the criticism I got from Trapsoul. Not to throw y'all under the bus, but Complex wrote a crazy article about me a long time ago, and that shit really had me like, “Damn, I suck.” That was like the week when Trapsoul came out. I was just like, “I suck, I'm horrible,” and I feel like at that moment, that's when I lost all my confidence completely. It just really messed with me for a long time. For at least four years, I was down bad mentally. It was to the point where when I was in the studio, I hated hearing my voice. I didn't want to sing nothing, and when I was making True to Self, there was one particular thing that they said about me on Complex. It said something about my voice, this tone that I was using, and I was just like, “Man, I'm never using that tone again.” So you won't hear that tone at all on True to Self because of that article. 

They say if it ain't broke, don't fix it or whatever. I don't know, I feel like it was working for me and the album Trapsoul didn't really pop off until like two years later. It was a super slow burn. But after all this time went by and I was seeing all these people say different things about it like, “Oh, Trapsoul is this,Trapsoul is that,” it just made me be like, “Damn, why weren't they saying this to me when it came out?” [Laughs]. Like, that would have probably changed my whole course, but this is why it's important not to listen to nobody. People are going to hate your shit, regardless. People are going to love your shit, and they're going to hate it. Now when I create music, I don't really care if people hate it or love it, all that matters is if I love it. If it comes out and everybody hates it, it's just like, “Damn, I guess I'm a little crazy,” but if I turn it on and it still sounds good to me, I'm happy. 

And do you trust your ear way more now than you did then?
I think I trust my gut probably more than my ear. It's just a feeling that I get. Even when I made “Whatever She Wants,” I made a lot of the songs on that tape, and I was happy about all of them. But when I made that one, that was the one that I just kept playing back, and my ear sometimes would tell me that it was trash. I've read comments with people saying it was trash, and it just doesn't affect me because I feel like a lot of people's gut feeling matches my gut feeling, which is that the song is dope. It just is what it is. It's here to stay, whether people like it or not. 

What is your opinion on the relationship between music critics and artists, and how it’s changed over time? What do you think that relationship should be like?
I think people who make music should embrace it more. Don't run away from it like I did in 2016 when I read those mean things and I was just like, “Oh man, I gotta go curl up in a ball.” Now I think you should embrace it more, because it does help at the end of the day. I'm sure that a lot of people who read that article that that dude wrote were like, “Hmm, let me go see for myself,” and probably 90 percent of them felt differently from how he felt.

I think it's important that we just support each other. I used to hate when blogs posted my music. For example, with “Whatever She Want,” that song had been out for months, and I saw a fan post it and they were feeling themselves to it. I was like, “Hey, that's how I looked when I was making it,” and I was just happy about it. I went to the comments and then some dude was like, “No, we gotta gatekeep this song, don't post it.” And I was like, “Gatekeep it?” I was like, “Hell nah, I'm making a TikTok to this shit right now.” So I made a TikTok to it, and then everybody just started going crazy. Then all these blogs started posting it, like, “Bryson Tiller previews new music and gives a snippet.” 

That type of shit would bother me, because I would be like, “It's not new music, it's not a snippet.” But these people have control over the masses. I might not be able to reach the masses right away sometimes, but I feel like for some reason the media, this is what they do for a living, so they know how to do it. They know what to say and how to get the conversation started. A lot of people were looking at it and thinking that I was just done making R&B songs, when they don't know that there was just a mixtape that I did specifically for that type of sound and that type of music.

I used to hate that, when blogs post stuff like, “How's it sounding?” I used to hate when they asked that question. Like, just let it sound however it sounds. But now I love it all. I love the comments. I’m not salty about nothing. I used to be down bad, reading those comments, but now I just like to read what people got to say. I like for them to express themselves, if you’re talking about it. They could be saying nothing at all. There could be zero comments under a post and that would be horrible.

You were one of the artists who helped popularize this alt-R&B lane that we’re starting to see blow up again with acts like 4Batz. What are your thoughts on that space and your impact in it?
I just like to see everybody doing their thing. As long as everybody's happy about what they're creating, I think that's all that really matters. Who cares what I think about it? I have been loving a lot of music that’s come out recently, and it's been inspiring me. There's a lot of new artists coming out these days. I just love to see new artists popping up. You got Flo Milli, even though she’s been around for a little minute. There’s 4Batz, like you said. There's a couple of people that are super dope that I've been watching. There's a dude named Baby Drill, he’s next. He’s super nice. 

What do you think of the current state of R&B?
Everybody is doing their thing. I just think that everybody should just keep cooking. I do wish people would collaborate more, though, for sure. It's just too many beefs, period. There might be an R&B singer beefing with a rapper, or a rapper beefing with this person or whatever, and I feel like it's just ruining music. The people aren't getting the best music that they could possibly get because these people are beefing with each other. It might be somebody whose ego is so big that they don't want to work with specific writers, but those specific writers might have the songs that the person needs. We don’t have to be kumbaya in a circle or nothing like that, but you see Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson making “We Are the World” and it's just like, man, look at all these people that just came together to make something. I'm not saying we have to make a song like that, but we should all collaborate with each other because it's bigger than us. It’s for the people, it’s music, you know. We need it. The people need it.

Recently, people have been making this delineation between TikTok artists” or “Tiktok songs” versus “real” songs? Do you think that plays a part in people feeling superior over others?
Probably. There's definitely a lot of elitistists in the music industry who will only work with certain people if they have certain accolades. Then there are some people that, as soon as you get those accolades, they still won't work with you just because they don't like that you got the same accolades. It's so weird, man. I don't get it. I've been a victim to that many times, but I like to work with everybody. I don't care if you're a “Tiktok artist.” Tiktok artists and artists are the same shit. Like, you're an artist. If you go in the studio, you make something, and you’re being creative, you’re an artist. Whether it goes up on TikTok or SoundCloud or Apple Music.

We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary of “Don’t.” But it’s actually going to be the 10-year anniversary of the second upload, because you deleted it off SoundCloud the first time. Why did you delete it the first time?
It was one of those situations where I was just in my head. I played it for like five people and they all gave me “meh” type responses. So I was just like, “Damn, maybe this shit sucks.” But then I was just like, “Man, but I've been listening to it over and over—it has to be good, a little bit. There's got to be somebody out there like me that will like the song.” So I was like, “I'm going to put it out there for people that are like me.” 

I put it out, and it was moving really slow at first. Nobody really cared. Nobody said anything. None of my friends hit me up. So I deleted it. I was like, “Fuck this shit. What am I doing?” [Laughs]. I deleted that shit, and then my boy called me immediately. But that's the thing: people be supporting you in the shadows, and I don't really like that. You should call your friends and tell them when you’re proud of them, or when you like something that they're doing, because shit can mean a lot. It can make them go work on something and do something even crazier. 

But anyways, [my friend] called me right away, and was like, “Yo, I've been listening to that and I was playing it for the girls on campus and they love that song. You gotta put it back online.” I was like, “OK, cool,” so I put it back online, and I think the next big call I got was from my boy Rich, who's here today with us. And he called me with Timbaland on the phone and was like, “Come to Miami,” and then everything's just been up from there.

I remember there were rumors about a “Don’t” remix with Drake that was made? 
He wanted to remix it. It never happened, though. Funny story, though… The guy who produced the song, he was selling beats on SoundClick. That was where I got the beat from. I got the beat from him, and he never wanted to get on the phone to talk to me, which was weird. The song had like 100,000 plays, and I was like, “Yo, let's get on the phone. Let's work on more music.” And he was like, “Yo, somebody from Young Money’s camp reached out to me. They said they like the beat for ‘Don't’ a lot. I was wondering if you could sell it back to me? Because this could be big for me, bro. What if somebody like Drake or somebody wanted to get on it?” 

He didn't even know that Drake was already on my line. So I was like, “Yo, bro just call me.” And after I told him that, he just spazzed on me. He was like, “Nah, I ain't doing this, man.” He just blocked his own blessings. It's crazy.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about you? What do people get wrong?
That I’m this person that don't like to fuck with people. I am kind of introverted, don't get me wrong. I am a nerd at the end of the day. I love being in the house, playing video game,s and I don't really pop up at all the red carpet events and fashion shows and fashion weeks. But I'm a cool guy. I feel like I have all different types of friends who like different things, and we all bond in different ways. I feel like some people just don't want to fuck with me because they feel like I wouldn't want to fuck with them. Or they won't reach out to hang out because they feel like I wouldn't want to do it, but that's not the truth. I really do want to fuck with people and be social.

Is making a Christian album still the end goal for you?
Yeah, I grew up in church. I used to go to church like four times a week. Wednesdays, Fridays, we did Sunday morning, and then we did Sunday night. I loved it and it really shaped who I am as a man today. I used to go to church camp every summer and I had my first girlfriend in church, and it just changed who I am, just being around those people. So I was just like, “Man, one day I have to bring it back to this.” When I was in church, they would go down the line and pray for all the kids, and whenever they got to me, they would just be huddled around me and really turn up on the prayers. They’d be like, “Something about this one right here…” I'm not even joking, and I used to be freaked out a little bit because I wasn't making music or nothing back then. I was singing a little bit, but it wasn't nothing. They always used to tell me that God had big plans for me, and I just feel like because of that, I have to bring it back to God.

Are there any updates on your debut video game?
I can’t give you any hints. I wish I could, because it's been about a year since I announced Trapsoul Games, the company, so I think it's time for me to tell people what it is and what I'm doing. But I want to make sure everything's right. I've been playing it. I play it every day. 

Do you have a ballpark estimate for when the game might drop?
I would love for it to drop this year. If not, it would be dropping the same year as GTA 6, which I'm not mad at, because I love GTA.

What should fans expect as you enter this new musical era?
You guys will get to see me in a new space entirely, like new worlds. I'm just excited to see where the fans want me to take it next. Even though I do plan on taking this hiatus, I want to see where they want me to take it next, because I might take it there. We’ll see what happens.

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