A year ago, I told everyone I know – plus anyone strolling by my little Internet corner – to give Teyana Taylor a chance and listen to her debut album, VII. Based on the majority of online videos of her most recent performances, gay Black men heeded the call best. Thanks a lot for your efforts, gentleman. Now it’s time for the rest of y’all to play catch up.
Fortunately, the very good but incredibly underlooked album is still available. Even better: Teyana Taylor has released a new EP, VII #thecassettetape 1994. Like VII, the songs are heavily influenced by ’90s R&B and features producers like Da Internz, JR Rotem, J Hill, among others. The references are far more direct as Taylor pulls from the following classic songs from that era and reimagines them: BBD’s “Poison,” Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “Anniversary,” and K.P. and Envyi’s “Swing My Way.”
There is also my favorite track from the EP, “Your Wish Is My Command,” produced by Domo and Kanye West. It reminds me most of what I’ve come to appreciate about Teyana Taylor: tangible growth in her vocal ability and a clearer direction on what to do with it.
Some have expressed that such direction is a little too nostalgic and referential. I tend not to agree with that (at least, not yet), but it does not counter that Teyana Taylor is making some of the most interesting R&B out there. It’s sensual, it’s flirty, and it all sounds like it’s coming from someone who naturally got to that stage in her personal life as opposed to it being forced upon her in her professional work.
The only thing is that more people need to be paying attention to what Teyana Taylor is offering. It’s understandable why audiences may have be initially skeptical of her music— she was introduced via a reality show centered around extravagant teen parties, and whatever music she released was far and between. But at this point, she has a solid mixtape, an impressive debut album, and now a very good EP under her belt.
Taylor is currently a part of Chris Brown’s One Hell of a Nite tour alongside Omarion, Kid Ink, and Fetty Wap. No word on when we’re getting a sophomore according, which is fine. A lot of you need to be playing catch up as is.
Teyana is putting in the work. Pay her the courtesy of your attention. It’s worth it.