Though he generated some buzz with 2011 mixtape Killer Instinct Vol. 1, Bryson Tiller still caught R&B and hip-hop fans by surprise when his single “Don’t” exploded in the spring of 2015, eventually hitting No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Since he signed with RCA and released debut album Trapsoul in October of that year, the Louisville native’s intense, bass-heavy sound has continued to catapult him to success, including this year’s follow-up True to Self and a co-starring role on the DJ Khaled-Rihanna summertime track “Wild Thoughts.”
“I’m always down to get on [DJ Khaled’s] stuff,” Tiller says from his home in Kentucky while preparing for his current Set It Off tour. “The first time we did something, he told me he wanted me to be part of something bigger, and before he even played the song [“Wild Thoughts”] for me, he was like, ‘Congratulations, this is gonna be one of the biggest songs ever.’” Khaled was right; the hit collaboration is sitting pretty at No. 2 on the Hot 100.
Tiller says the true test of how far he has come since he started writing and recording will be the newest and most challenging part of his job—performing. He’ll take the stage at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel this week.
“When it comes to music, the studio is where I exist,” he says. “Some people were born to be onstage, just killing it like they have an alter ego, and I don’t understand how they do it. The issue for me is trying to channel the same energy onstage that I feel in the studio, to tap back into that. That’s been my biggest challenge.” Bryson Tiller with Metro Boomin and H.E.R. at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, August 12.