At just 15 years old, Teyana Taylor began a vibrant career in the entertainment industry. A multitalented force – singer/songwriter, actress, model, director, and choreographer, Taylor continues to evolve her artistry. Her latest LP, The Album, is an impressive compilation of intimate, raw songs which span different genres and themes.
At 23 tracks, The Album embodies Taylor’s newfound creative freedom. Feeling stifled creatively when recording previous albums, Taylor intentionally included many tracks on this project, making the end result all the more personal and reflective of her vision. With live performances in mind, Taylor curated The Album track list as one she can perform from start to finish in concert. The Album can be listened to in five sections which Taylor refers to as “studios”; A, L, B, U, and M. It’s best to listen to the project in this way as it makes the 23 tracks more digestible.
The Album is an intimate, highly sexual, personal project. “Intro” is a powerful piece which sets the tone for the record. Taylor features her husband’s 911 phone call during her unexpected birth of their daughter at home. It’s a moving recording – listeners can hear the raw emotion in her husband’s voice and feel the urgency of the moment. The track “Wake Up Love,” and its accompanying video, convey Taylor’s deep admiration and appreciation for her husband Iman Shumpert, who is featured on the track. Allstar features and samples are abundant on the record including Rick Ross, R&B legend Erykah Badu, Quavo, Kehlani, Missy Elliott, Future, DaVido, Big Sean, King Combs, and the iconic Ms. Lauryn Hill.
Other stand out tracks include “Killa,” Lowkey,” “Lose Each Other,” “Still,” “How You Want It?,” and “Made It.” Genres explored on The Album include R&B, pop, reggae, rap, hip hop, and neo-soul. At its best, The Album makes listeners want to indulge in a lover, dance with the tracks on full volume, and reflect on past loves and one’s current life choices.
Songs featured in the “L” studio center around lust. These themes are extremely prominent on tracks like “Morning,” a steamy, passionate song with Kehlani, and “69” (an obvious reference to sex). In contrast, “Lose Each Other” is the only ballad of its kind on The Album, and it is a powerful one. Taylor sings about the grey area many lovers find themselves in – when a relationship seemingly ends but feelings are still present. “We don’t have to lose each other/we can be still friends if you want it… I’ll still go see your mother/I’ll still check up on your brother/I meant it when I said I loved you/And love just don’t go away,” Taylor expresses. It’s refreshing to hear Taylor sing about this stage of a relationship amidst many hot and heavy songs on the project.
Although much of the project isn’t groundbreaking in terms of new sounds, as Taylor is clearly influenced by past and present R&B greats, her willingness to explore a multitude of genres makes The Album uniquely hers. It helps that Taylor’s voice is rich and melodic – each song is full of warm tones and, overall, the project is incredibly enjoyable and easy to listen to. Taylor’s increased creative input is apparent and The Album, released on Juneteenth, invites celebration of what it means to be Black and the beauty Black women possess.