Bryant Taylorr Redefines the Indefinable with ‘RARE’ Exhibition of R&B Grey Area
Evan Dale // Nov 13, 2020
Within a space melodically inclined yet fluidly straddling the classic R&B tenants of modern names like BJ the Chicago Kid and the hip-hop rooted crooning flow of transcendent forces like Miguel and SAINt JHN, Bryant Taylorr creates something altogether new. Amalgamate as his first collection since 2017 debut, Juice, his newest, RARE provides a glimpse from a different angle than the one we overarchingly have of Nashville. A hip-hop rooted underground quickly turning game-changing names to be known has been building a platform in the Music City for years, coming to especially explosive fruition since the onset of 2019. To wit, more often than not, the Nashville artists we speak about release a wide-ranging array of modernist hip-hop with a timeless feel and affinity for storyline – just listen to Brian Brown’s Journey, JORDAN Xx’s Surfing: Highs N Lows, Namir Blade’s Aphelion’s Traveling Circus, or the greater Tennessee piecemeal mixtape, Tenn Toes Down – all of which have been released this year. But, where there’s hip-hop, there has always also been R&B – we recommend Monarch from Yours Truly, Jai. You’ll notice when listening to any of the projects listed (or quite frankly, unlisted) that no one in Nashville only raps – only sings – but that all walk their own line between the melodic and the lyrical towards a sound only their own (Chuck Indigo’s No Moor Bad Days is a shining show of transcendence). Equally established in the budding Nashville scene, a barrage of Neo-Soul vocalists, songwriters, instrumentalists, and also emerging stars in their own right like Jai, Indigo, Jyou, and Tayylor, stay steady in their unwavering evolution of the future for the world’s vocal and emotional lanes.
Akin to seemingly everyone else releasing music from Nashville under the umbrella of their current tight-knit creative community, Bryant Taylorr’s unique aesthetic is founded equally in the past and the future. Often, the power in his register brings to mind the greats of Soul’s then. Often, the ubiquitous harness of that voice allows him to transcend genre altogether, establishing himself as a key player in the stylistically fluid now. Often, the one-of-a-kind nature in his aesthetic speaks only to a not-so-distant future where his artistry – where that of Nashville at large – will earn its respect in paving such a unique, small-market lane to global influence. Through it all, not often, but always, Bryant Taylorr is RARE.
The seven-track EP couldn’t have a more fitting title. It’s simple. It’s raw. It’s honest. Three traits that the vocalist and songwriter has been honing for years – three traits that rarely manifest themselves so beautifully into a single project from a single artist – envelope Taylorr in the authentic texture of a signature that really comes full circle with the EP. In so many ways, RARE feels reminiscent to the comforts of R&B fans: a vocally and emotionally intact protagonist, an affinity for romance, and an adherence to the instrumentally simple and productively minimal backdrop through most of its songs. Yet in so many others, it’s a jarring exhibition of unadulterated independence and creative immersion: a line in the sand between R&B and hip-hop crossed again and again by an artist begging questions on the need for genre when he, himself is so wide-ranging; when the most influential artists these days flourish in budding post-genre altogether. Regardless of where a given track takes a listener, the unique nature that undoubtedly allows Bryant Taylorr to embody the meaning of RARE seems to come back, first and foremost, to his voice.
Like many in R&B or its adjacent inadherence to stylistic orientation through the last decade or so, Bryant Taylorr stands out with a well-curated balance between a position as unendingly listenable and a space built on the crystalline imperfectionism that makes his sound standout from a greater sphere emboldened by one-of-a-kind auditory aesthetics. There’s something to it, his voice, that makes a listener pause and rewind RARE at not so rare moments from Space Boots to Worth It.
Speaking on his voice and on RARE’s opening track, Space Boots is a masterclass on capturing the attention of a listener, sitting them down, and ensuring they stick to the project at length without interruption sans the need for backtracking to its most striking vocal moments. A relatively lo-fi, completely indefinable futurist exhibition of hip-hop and R&B’s post-genre cohesion, the track is at once fun-loving and emotionally vulnerable, futuristically produced and timelessly crafted by Taylorr and accompanying Nashville lyrical legend, Tim Gent who, too, steps from the shadows of comfort to paint the track ultimately unique. As organic percussion and fittingly jazz-bar worthy vocal rawness open RARE’s following addition, Brakes, a listener is immersed not in the expectation of genre, but simply in the idea of music at its inventive, signature Nashvillian form.
Though always returning home to the unwavering power and distinctiveness of Taylorr’s voice, the rest of RARE follows suit as a bolstered collection of rather indefinable inclusions. Surface feels like a spoken word stream of thought brimming with lyrical endowment. Fan feels like a radio-ready R&B hit that puts into focus perhaps better than any other track on the project, Taylorr’s dynamically inimitable register. Like a more experimentally forward dive into Bryson Tiller’s TRAPSOUL origins, Hesitate merges an adept understanding of the rapped and the sung in balance beneath the texture of a live band. And Worth It – RARE‘s leading single that bleeds of a blue-toned synth – expresses the highs and lows of Taylorr’s ever-widening vocal range.
At length – as a whole – RARE breathes of its title. Bryant Taylorr is a rare vocal talent, undoubtedly. His voice never settles in the high or the low, regardless of the emotional distress in his poetically founded penmanship. But with RARE, he proves himself to be even more. A gifted transcendentalist blurring the lines between R&B, hip-hop and its many grey areas. A beguiling craftsman of an auditory aesthetic not quite like any we’ve ever heard before. Another sparkplug to a Nashville engine churning out hit after hit, project after project, unique name on their way to influential stardom. Like his Nashville compatriots, Bryant Taylorr is ultimately rare even when weighed against his scene’s fellow names, and RARE will survive as a not-so-rare clip from a greater 2019-2020-and-beyond Nashville moment redefining hip-hop, R&B, and the needlessness for either title to exist when artists so effortlessly blur their lines and create something new.