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If you let Bryson Tiller tell you how to go from relatively unknown regional favorite to nationally beloved major label signee, you’ll probably pull your hair out, then go try and do it yourself. “It was easy for me. All I did was make a song that was good,” says the Louisville, Kentucky native, as if he can hardly believe there aren’t R&B sensations popping out of every zip code in Middle America. That song that was good, “Don’t,” a slow-burning guide to leaving the wrong guy for the right one that takes no prisoners—“Girl he only f*cked you over ‘cause you let him”—racked up 7 million plays in a few short months, but that number could’ve easily been zero. “I uploaded it to Soundcloud once, and it got like 300 plays the first day and I was like ‘I’m taking this off, nobody’s really messing with this’.” When the song vanished from the internet, a friend made him aware of how popular it had gotten on the University of Kentucky’s campus and Tiller, still not thinking much of it, re-uploaded the song. “Don’t” now sits at 27 million plays on Soundcloud, and has cracked the Billboard R&B chart’s Top 40.

Bryson Tiller
“Sorry Not Sorry” (prod. Timbaland)
Trap Soul (2015)


Tiller was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, which is where he still resides with his 2-year old daughter and her mother, who provided much of the inspiration for records like “Don’t,” “Exchange,” and the litany of R&B records on Trap Soul—his first post-record deal project—that are deliberately void of excessively foul and misogynistic lyrics. When I pointed out a line from “Exchange” (Lord please save her for me/Do this one favor for me) that has quickly become a ubiquitous Instagram caption for girls that, more often than not, wish the men in their life spoke about them in a similar manner, Tiller mentions that his relationship with the two most important girls in his life provides him more than enough inspiration.

This is an abridged version of this article. To read the full story, grab your copy of our 2015 Holiday Issue here.