Bryson Tiller’s come-up would make Muhammad Ali proud. The Louisville native went from a Papa John’s employee to a platinum-selling musician, reaching the pinnacle of his career (so far!) with the success of his 2015 acclaimed debut album T R A P S O U L, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite his list of accolades, Tiller still considers himself a rookie.
“I’m just being a student to the game right now,” he told Billboard over the phone. As an avid video game player, Tiller referenced the Japanese animated series Dragon Ball Z to describe his evolution, saying that T R A P S O U L was him as “Super Saiyan 1,” but his newest project is a “level up” from his debut. “I learned a lot this past year, like how my songs move people and the crowd, so I’m still trying to figure out what’s next for me.”
Tiller offered major keys on handling relationships with his first single and viral hit “Don’t” and followed up with the candid standout track “Exchange” — the latter giving Tiller his first-ever 2017 Grammy nomination for best R&B song. “I called my grandma as soon as I got the chance. She was happy, but she probably doesn’t even know how amazing it is to get a Grammy nomination,” he said. “It was a shocker at first, because I can’t believe I’m Grammy-nominated now.”
While some artists threw parties to celebrate their Grammy nod, Tiller admitted that he’s not the type to “do nothing too extravagant” and opted for a more low-key bash with a few friends, pizza and video games. Looking back at the attention he’s garnered over the past year, the easygoing crooner says that he dedicates his nomination — and hopefully, the Grammy — to his hometown. “A lot of people in [Wolverine, Kentucky] still feel like you can’t make it, and I feel like they’re a little more inspired now that they see me making it,” Tiller continued. “They can see that you can get a Grammy nomination for being true to yourself and just making great music.”
On the heels of his Grammy nomination, Tiller also topped Billboard‘s Year-End Music chart for top new artist, over 2016 breakout artists like Zayn and Desiigner. “That’s dope. I literally just found that out minutes ago,” he said. Maintaining his humble demeanor, he admitted that it’s hard for him to believe some of his accomplishments. “I have to see it in writing for me to believe,” he joked. “It’s [all] so crazy.”
With a new project on the way, the R&B singer is ready to present the world with new material. “With this new album, I feel like I’m a lot more mature and my lyrics are a lot more mature than they were before,” he revealed — though he was tight-lipped about any forthcoming singles. “[From] growing up and realizing things about myself — like I said on ‘502 Come Up’: I’m just trying to get a lot better. I feel on this project I’m painting the picture for people to just sit back and listen and try to visualize everything that I’m saying — that’s my biggest goal.
“It’s post-T R A P S O U L, you know,” he added. “Everything that I went through since that album, whether it be relationship issues, friends changing, dealing with life, there’s just a lot to talk about now. After seeing some of the world — I had a long year being on the road and traveling — I’m excited to share that.”