In a new interview with Billboard, Bryson Tiller, fresh off the release of his long-awaited sophomore album, True to Self, compared his artistic growth to one of his genre's biggest names: The Weeknd.
"I just think fans gotta let their favorite artist grow," Tiller told veteran hip-hop writer Sowmya Krishnamurthy. "Just stick it out with them. I always use the example of The Weeknd. He used to make dark, mysterious music that was excellent. The Trilogy; everybody loved it. Now, he’s Starboy. There may be fans that are upset about that but he’s Starboy now. You gotta let your favorite artist grow and be great."
Tiller's right across the board—fans do need to let artists grow and The Weeknd is a pitch perfect example of artistic evolution—but, ironically, his latest body of work has been criticized for its thematic and sonic similarities to 2015 debut Trapsoul. "Trapsoulwas direct and didn’t overstay its welcome, while True to Self doesn’t know when to say goodbye," wrote Yoh in his 1 Listen review of True to Self.
There's certainly nothing wrong with sticking to a winning formula—and netting a Platinum plaque for your debut isn't a bad recipe to follow—but artistic growth requires risk-taking. The Weeknd, in his shift from gloomy jams about sex, drugs and having sex on drugs to more upbeat, pop-driven jams about sex, drugs and having sex on drugs, stood to lose a portion of his day-one following but, along with his label, he made the decision to venture toward a more mainstream vibe. Needless to say, multiple Platinum plaques later, it paid off.
Bryson, on the other hand, appears to be risk-averse, at least for the time being. And that's fine. But when you're talking about artistic growth, you need to deliver an album that doesn't sound like a B-sides version of your debut.