teyana-taylor-vii-coverTeyana Taylor, VII
2014; Def Jam Records/G.O.O.D. Music
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The interesting thing about Teyana Taylor is how much she has done, without necessarily focusing on what she’s done musically.

Her name grows amongst those whom once were never exposed to her… Or so they think. Some could consider her a veteran in the game however; her presence was only heard and not seen. Until now that is. Taylor, once signed to Interscope/ Star Trak and currently signed to G.O.O.D. Music, is one of many talents with the accolades to prove it: As a dancer, she’s noted for assisting in the choreography for Beyoncé’s “Ring The Alarm” music video; As an actress, she’s most noted for her role in Madea’s Big Happy Family opposite Bow Wow as his overly dramatic baby mama; Not to mention she has her own shoe through Adidas, the Harlem GLC’s which currently hold the record for being the fastest selling shoe in Adidas Originals history. Not bad for someone you may or may not have heard of huh?

However, Teyana’s ability to maintain longevity in the game is one of pure determination and drive. She hummed her way onto Kanye West’s 2010 release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, by sitting in the studio with him as he recorded the album and literally hummed along to every song to get him to pay attention to her voice. Apparently, it worked and considering how society perceives Mr. West to be, that’s kind of a big deal (word to the Clipse). After singing background on “Dark Fantasy” and “Hell of a Life” she released her mixtape The Miseducation of Teyana Taylor. Outside of the apparent similarity of the title, she utilized the concept from one of her inspirations Ms. Lauryn Hill while paying homage to her on “Lauryn’s Interlude” as she delivers a hook from “Doo Wop (That Thing)” accapella. Shortly there after she appears on Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music compilation album, Cruel Summer as a featured vocalist on “Sin City” and “Bliss” and as background on “To The World”. Two years later, Teyana emerges fully onto the scene with the release of her debut album, VII.

With seven being the number of completion, naming her album VII is only proper to mark her seven-year journey to this anticipated release. VII takes you on a time travel to the 90’s with a modern edge. Each track gives elements of musical influence while keeping things organically original leaving you with a nice blend of R&B both new and old.

Leading with “Maybe” featuring Yo Gotti and Pusha T provides as an excellent introduction to draw out your curiosity. Once inside of the album, prepare for its soothing appeal with her “Outta My League (Interlude)” that takes you to the days of vocal storytelling as the grittiness that engulfs her voice give you hints of Tweet. “Just Different” takes you to her Mary J. influence as she vocally depicts the emotionally rollercoaster her lover has her strapped into. “Request” has the energy of a track that you may find on a slow jam mixtape where the title is written in sharpie. Teyana delivers her eagerness for you to give her a call. Consider it an audio version of Spike Lee’s Girl 6 if you will all to be followed by “Don’t Disturb” featuring Chris Brown, a bottom heavy track that has the feel of Al B. Sure’s 1992 release, “Sexy Verses”. It’s easy to hear how influential the music of 90’s was to Teyana as you continue through “Broken Hearted Girl” and “Business” where Timbaland and Missy hidden somewhere in the track and the vocals.

The reggae infused track “Put Your Love On” allows you to hear Teyana’s vocal versatility as she lightly dutty wines vocally across the rhythm allowing you to subtly bob your head providing an up-tempo break in between the slow jams. “Dreams” takes you back into the groove as she allows the sultriness of her voice to be the vessel for her confidence on how one should approach her, but “Sorry” offers up further proof of her being a 90’s baby as you hear more of her Hill influence matched with a track inspired by Janet Jackson’s ”Again”. She closes out the album with the scorned lover anthem, “In The Air” and the full versions of “Outta My League” and “It Could Just Be Love”.

VII provides as the proper follow up to her The Miseducation of Teyana Taylor mixtape and constitutes as a solid piece of work to provide as an introduction as to who she is musically. Although she kept from showcasing her skills at being a lyricist, Teyana gives you enough to keep you engaged with VII and shows reason as to why Kanye and some industry insiders hadn’t completely written her off.