Bryson Tiller recently released his sophomore album, True to Self, and the above is a visual representation of my response to it. I will be the first and last person to tell you that I LOVE me some Bryson. He is the epitome of the black male aesthetic that sends me into a head spin, from his dad hats to his Vans. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that his music is a tad bit problematic and enabling. Oooop, I said it. From start to finish, True to Self is a classic attempt of a man’s savage ploys to keep a woman (who deserves better) in his life. I say “savage” because the lyrics on most of the tracks embody the man who leaves you hanging onto his words and charm when you known damn well you need to run away fast.
Bryson Tiller is the problem with 24-year old men and sis, he is NOT your King.
Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t think every 24 year old man is problematic. I actually think that most men age 21-35 are problematic so my read is not biased against age. Yes, there are great men out there. But, for every great man there are two who are bound to cause you distress and heartache. These are the men Bryson effortlessly captures in his lyrics. The men who duck and dodge the “What are we?” question six months in, the ones who want to kick it 24/7 and expect you to be there to clean up the mess, the ones who are still “figuring it out” as they date you and three other women all through college (shots fired, I know).
We’ve all been in these (and worse) situations and honestly, they build character. It happens to the best of us and we all know that it prepares us for better. What gets me is when we women are in our mid to late 20s STILL engaging with men who give us ALL of the warning signs. With that being said, a few examples of said warning signs brought to us by True to Self…
No, I can’t do what a man should be doing for you/ Trying my best to pull through for you, yeah, yeah/ Listen, few years we been at it, so much static (“We Both Know,” True to Self)
Sometimes your best isn’t good enough dawg. Some men will have you hanging onto the “one day” and “I’m trying my best” until your youth has passed you by and you’re five plus years into a dead end relationship. While I am no advocate for giving up on a relationship that is receiving energy from two parties, I do push women to pay attention to those static moments. Ask yourself, “Are we growing in this relationship?”, “Are we creating a life that I actually want?”, “Am I truly happy?.” All of that is clearly easier said than done, but I promise holding onto “one day” is a sure fire recipe to stay stuck.
When I look at you, I see someone I don’t deserve (“You Got It,” True to Self)
Girl when a man tells you that he doesn’t “deserve you,” run. He’s right and he knows something you don’t. That is not a cute or endearing statement; he is probably trash and you need to believe him. That’s it. No other option. Yes, women of our era are achieving at a rate that often outpaces their black man. No, that doesn’t mean you should lower your bar of dating/relationship standards. If a man truly feels like he does not deserve you and he wants that to change, HE WILL GET SOME ENERGY. If that man doesn’t have the energy to step up and be a person who deserves you, pack ya bags ma.
Sometimes I forget/ And sometimes you gotta put me in check (“In Check,” True to Self )
I’m a grown woman who will not be checking a grown man. Point, blank, period. This lyric reminds me of those dysfunctional relationships where it’s as if you’re raising the man to be the partner you deserve. As black women, our only “raising” duty comes when we have little black boys and girls. You should not be checking a grown man who knows right from wrong; it is not your job to raise him. Basic concepts like respect should not be taught by you. I may seem harsh because no one is perfect and we all have to learn, but there needs to be a limit to that. You cut enough slack and next thing you know, you’re living out a Jody and Yvette scenario.
Got a girl that don’t expect as much from me/ That’s why she gets so much love from me/ She just might be the one for me (“Set It Off,” True to Self)
Listen. Have and keep your high expectations. As black women doing the damn thing in every aspect of life, you cannot lower your expectations when it comes to love. That will only hurt you in the long run and we cannot romanticize men who give us “a lot” because we demand little. Now yes, you shouldn’t expect a man to spend all of his bread on you, give up his hopes and dreams for you, nor should you expect a man to be perfect. However, you should expect him to show up for you and continually show you why he deserves you (and you should be doing the same for him). Low expectations only lead to disappointment and committed relationships after three years of “Yeah, we kick it.”
There you have it, some warning signs. Now there’s plenty more to be discussed (I could dissect Exchange until I’m blue in the face), but we can save that for a rainy day. The point is, don’t ignore the signs. Stop romanticzing hard relationships. There is something to be said for overcoming life’s challenges with your man, but be with a man who doesn’t create those challenges. And mostly importantly, remember that Bryson Tiller is not your King.
Image Source: Giphy, Tumblr, 2DopeBoyz