Bryson Tiller released the deluxe version of his third studio album ‘Anniversary’ this past Friday. While not necessarily bad, ‘Anniversary Deluxe’ rarely deviates from its original subject matter and lacks a lot of spectacular content from Tiller.
When Tiller announced ‘Anniversary Deluxe’, I honestly really didn’t have a reaction to it. The singles before the original ‘Anniversary’ drop weren’t as vulnerable or unique from what we had already heard. It felt like he was forced to make ‘Anniversary’ because of a contract, not because he had anything new to say. If he wanted to re-release ‘Trapsoul’, he could have just re-released ‘Trapsoul’. The original ‘Anniversary’, in comparison, seemed far more hollow to me than anything, like a deliberate rip-off of Tiller’s own material.
‘Anniversary Deluxe’ added four songs and one interlude to the original ‘Anniversary’ tracklist. It gave me flashbacks to Ariana Grande’s ‘Positions Deluxe’, which gave us the exact same amount of new content. Considering Grande has also been incredibly repetitive recently, I wonder if they coordinated launch dates.
It breaks my heart that ‘Anniversary Deluxe’ is probably the new Bryson Tiller standard. He’s certainly fallen a long way from ‘Trapsoul’. Tiller’s debut managed to be both raw and fun. He seemed to know exactly what his target audience wanted to hear when they needed to hear it. ‘Trapsoul’ was exciting and its success promised a lot more great things.
Yet it seems Tiller is unwilling to branch out and experiment more with his sound, despite initially gaining a lot of praise for doing just that. He seems to believe that repeating the same messages in slightly different tones will once again strike Triple Platinum. I don’t want to say Tiller peaked with his debut, but with this release, it’s seeming that way.
It wasn’t even just this release that brought this, either. The deluxe version of ‘Trapsoul’, which dropped in Sept. 2020, also wasn’t interesting. That deluxe initially got a lot of hype on social media because he added a few songs that had already leaked from his initial ‘Trapsoul’ recording. Actually listening to ‘Trapsoul Deluxe’ is an entirely different story. None of the songs were any new, different material that we had ever heard before. It was like listening to ‘Groundhog Day’ put to a beat.
My main thought while listening to ‘Anniversary’ and its deluxe was “Eh.” It was clear from the beginning this was just another Bryson Tiller project. There would be no innovation or fun to be had otherwise. If you already like ‘Trapsoul’, you honestly could have just relistened to ‘Trapsoul’ and gotten the same effect. This was just the same content in a new package.
It would be one thing if ‘Anniversary Deluxe’ had any real effort put into it. If this album turned out to be R&B excellence, this would be a much different review. But it didn’t even give us that much. There weren’t any remixes and, aside from Big Sean, no new features. These were just run of the mill Bryson Tiller songs.
What’s worse is that I can’t even say I hate ‘Anniversary Deluxe’. I have no feelings on ‘Anniversary Deluxe’. “Inhale”, “Always and Forever”, “Sorrows”, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”, “Next To You” and “New You”, which I initially loved, still sounded great on the deluxe. Even the few new songs on ‘Anniversary Deluxe’, like “7:00” and “Still Yours”, sounded great. Of the new songs, I think “Still Yours” is the best because its production and vocals stand out the most to me. And if the best thing I can say about your new song is that it “stands out” better than the others, then that’s a problem.
As a former Bryson Tiller stan, I am very disappointed in the direction that his music has taken. I may still listen to his upcoming releases, but if ‘Anniversary Deluxe’ is the new standard, I don’t have high hopes for them.