The first three singles off Bryson Tiller's debut album kept the singer/rapper hovering near the top of Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart for a few months during 2015 and 2016. Each one went platinum, as did the parent release. This consequently made Tiller one of the decade's major R&B breakouts. For True to Self, his follow-up, Tiller opted to employ an almost entirely new and slightly larger cast of collaborators -- a little over two dozen in number, once again strictly producers, no guest vocalists -- yet the method nonetheless seems to be "If the style you coined ain't broke, don't fix it." Like T R A P S O U L, True to Self is primarily thumping, dispirited slow jams laced with smudged samples -- '90s R&B once again the crate raided with the greatest frequency. This kind of thing sounds a little less novel in 2017 than it did years earlier, but True to Self is more colorful and melodic than what preceded it. Likewise, fame evidently gave its maker more issues to write about, including new romantic complications, greater wealth, and a deeper sense of humility. The latter quality is evident in several cuts. When he references missing a work deadline due to his inability to resist temptation, he does so as if he's admitting fault, not boasting. In the opening "Rain on Me," worried about losing his lover, he declares "I wanna grow gray with you." He even slips in a line about providing for his grandmother in the foe-flicking "Blowing Smoke." On the surface, Tiller still gives off that wallflower baller vibe; the brashness of the debut largely remains. The lack of connection made on the one stylistic shake-up -- the lightly jutting "Run Me Dry," a cousin of Rihanna's "Work" and Drake's "One Dance" -- suggests that Tiller will likely be better off continuing to refine the sound for which he's known.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman