It’s been a longtime coming for Teyana Taylor. A journey some of her most loyal fans were even frustrated with. The singer is only 23, but has been in record label limbo since 2007. She was first signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak, before jumping ship to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint in 2012. Since then though, we kind of forgot what Teyana’s talent really was. I mean she was getting these co signs from major artists without the work presenting itself. High profile relationships and riffs with other superstars kind of made Taylor more of a socialite than an artist. The singer is sure to take everyone by surprise with VII; her relentless ode to real R&B.
The album is stripped down in the best of ways; no over produced records, and features are at a minimum. Chris Brown assists “Do Not Disturb” for a duet, Fabolous does what he does best on “Broken Hearted Girl,” and the lead single “Maybe” features Pusha T and Yo Gotti. The rest of the album is Teyana seemingly killing off preconceived notions. “Outta My League Interlude” for instance, introduces us to her sound, and tone of the album, while “Just Different” keeps listeners on a mellow trip. There’s evidence that Teyana was influenced by R&B greats throughout the album. “Request” is reminiscent of something Destiny’s Child would’ve drummed up, while “Sorry” has traces of Monica all over it in her hay day.
But that’s not to say Teyana doesn’t have her own sound she’s developing. Although we’ve seen some of these approaches to R&B before, it’s refreshing to see now, when it doesn’t really exist anymore. “Put Your Love On” includes a refreshing blend of reggae, while “Dreams” exudes confidence far beyond today’s typical sound.
Kanye recently went on a rant about how proud he was of the strides Teyana has made.
“Teyana provides something that’s so R&B, so black, so ‘hood, so missing, so necessary in the marketplace,” he continued. “Mother—-ers wanted to drop Big Sean, mother—-ers wanted to drop Teyana and mother—-ers wanted to drop Pusha. Everybody always wanna be late or mother—-in’ drop somebody and sh– and not believe in somebody all the way through… this is about artistry and fighting for artists to get their visions out.”
When I first heard him say this, It seemed far fetched. But when Yeezy’s right, he’s right. It’ll be interesting to see Teyana’s sound develop. She’s obviously very 90’s influenced. She often sings with a breathy tone reminiscent of Toni Braxton, but there are flickers of true self development. I mean, she’s only 23, and it took seven years (VII, get it?) to craft her debut. How she’ll come into her own remains to be seen, but this is an impressive start.