Teyana Taylor - KTSE

It has been pure calamity, when it comes to G.O.O.D. Music’s first lady Teyana Taylor and her sophomore album, K.T.S.E. (Keep The Same Energy). Released in late June, the album contains only eight songs. The problem? The songs simply do not mesh well at all. It just did not feel complete. Apparently, there’s an explanation though. In an interview with Big Boy, the singer revealed that the album “sounded incomplete” because of clearance issues, missing verses, and hooks that were removed/edited out of the songs. She also shared that album was put out the way it was because the fans basically kept asking for it and she did not want to let them down any further.

She announced the album would be re-released the following week on either Saturday (June 30) or Sunday (July 1). Sadly, that did not happen. Last week, on Monday (July 2), Taylor took to Twitter announcing that, at this point, due to those pesky clearance issues, the album would simply be left in its current state and she would release the new music through future visuals.

As Tey shared, the album did garner mixed reveiws. Many listeners went straight to social media to share their frustrations. The sales are an actual vivid representation of it. According to Billboard, the album debuted at No. 2 on the Top R&B Albums chart. However, it opened with only 23,000 equivalent units during the week ending June 28. Of those units, only 7,000 were traditional album sales.

Executive produced by Kanye West, K.T.S.E. comes four years after Teyana’s debut release, VII. As previously stated, the album literally only contains 8 songs. The opening track, “No Manners” — produced by Ye, Che Pope, Mike Dean, Mark Batson, and BoogzDaBeast — focuses on Taylor obsessing about her husband, NBA baller Iman Shumpert. She harmonizes and repeats the lines, “I got a man, but ain’t got no manners.” If unfamiliar with the two, both Teyana and Iman are very… unorthodox. She reinforces that with these lines, she breaks the norms that women are supposed to be these prissy, well-mannered, softspoken people. She goes against that mentality saying, “I’m still the raw, tomboyish me and yes, I still got the husband of my dreams, ring, and child.” Musically, the song is not impressive at all. Yes, it is catchy, but it really tells no story. It does not showcase Teyana’s vocal ability and just says the same thing over and over.

One of the project’s absolute best records arrives at “Gonna Love Me!” Produced by Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, and BoogzDaBeast, Teyana’s voice is utterly amazing. Using a sample of The Delfonics’ “I Gave To You”, Taylor talks about the ins and out of being in a relationship, persevering and remaining in love. Her voice is sweet like honey and the melody is intoxicating. She raves about spending the rest of her life with her husband. The production is so smooth and soulful. The song is great, from the very first listen. It is beautiful and makes you think about all the good and bad that you’ve endured with your significant other. The song delivers the vibes Teyana gave us all in her debut album. Her voice is strong and the delivery is incredible.

The next track, “Issues/Hold On”, continues that vibe. Sampling Billy Stewart’s “I Do Love You”, Teyana sings about wanting her lover to love her always and never leave or hurt her. She begins with: “Fighting to keep us together, hope it’s worth a try/You ain’t always been an angel but heaven’s on our side.” The production creates such a vintage appeal that true R&B lovers will appreciate. The song is refreshing and authentic. Listeners will be able to see the passion inside of Teyana on this track, as she lets it all out, screaming that her lover just hold on and never let go. Teyana puts her pride aside and lays everything on the table. She lets it be known that she’s also not perfect, she’s been played before, and that she essentially just wants someone to love her and that she can reciprocate that love to. Here, is where we get a snippet of that storytelling element that the album lacks as a whole.

The next song, “Hurry,” featuring G.O.O.D’s head honcho himself, is honestly an unnecessary track. It showcases a more sexual Teyana, as she asks her lover to keep his eyes on her “fatty.” Teyana has never been afraid to say what is really on her mind and has always been open about the inside of her bedroom and sex life. She continues this energy, telling him that if he is pleased with what he sees, he can even grab it. The quick feature from Kanye is rather anti-climatic. It does not really wow me in any form and is rather unneeded. I won’t lie, the song is very catchy. The song oozes sexual liberation. From the song’s chorus, lyrics, and even delivery, there is a intense sexual aura felt through the song. Teyana goes as far as even moaning at the end of the song. It proves to just be another song that could have been saved.

The sexual energy continues with the next song, “3Way.” Just as the title of the track suggests, Teyana is singing about a threesome. Produced by Rodney Jerkins, Mike Dean, and Ye, the song samples Sisqo’s “How Can I Love U 2nite.” Teyana sets the atmosphere for the song beginning, “Anything, for my baby, I’d do some crazy things (yeah) / So whatever he want, he can get that / Long as I like, we can hit that.” Teyana makes it clear here that this threesome will consist of both herself, Iman and another woman. However, she goes on sharing that once the deed is done, the other woman can depart because that is the only reason she is there. Assisted by the great Ty Dolla $ign, the two get really descriptive, as they discuss the way they want this act to go down. Ty provides the male point of view, while Teyana represents for the ladies. Ty Dolla does no wrong on any song he features on and always kills it. Teyana is as sexual as ever and paints a VIVID image of this encounter. Her voice is low, raspy and alluring. Again, Teyana continues to remain vulnerable, as she opens up to the world yet again with this sensual song.

As we near the end of the album, we reach the best song (and my all-time favorite record) of the entire album, “Rose in Harlem.” The tone is already set with the production. Evan Mast, BoogzDaBeast, and Mike Dean truly outdid themselves here. Kanye sampled The Stylistics’ “Because I Love You, Girl”, and I am so grateful for it. The beat is outstanding, and then, add Teyana and this is a downright hit. Teyana gives listeners a little rapping side, as she spits some truly relevant bars that they will pick up as soon as they play the song. She gets right to business singing, “Been through more than a lil’ bit / But I ain’t callin’ no names out / No, no free promotion.” Teyana targets various elements in the song. She speaks on overcoming the issues within her hometown, haters, and backstabbers who pretended to love her but really never had her best interest in heart. While this version we hear on the album is noticeably different than the snippet Tey released on Twitter, the song is still just so good. Her voice is so great and the message stands out more than anything. Yet again, we see the storytelling element arise. She sings from her heart about how all the bad that tried to take her out made her stronger.

The next record, “Never Would Have Made It”, covers gospel singer Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It.” Teyana bellows about this person who she says is the “highlight of her life” and reason for her triumph. The song is very heartwarming and motivational. Teyana sings from her heart and even adds her daughter Junie at the end of the song. Her voice although powerful is extremely raw and the energy can be felt as she screams, “Never would have made it without you.” Through her lyrics, Teyana reflects on the people and things that have changed her life such as family, marriage, motherhood, etc. The song is very open and vulnerable. The album’s final song, “WTP,” features Mykki Blanco, and is a vogue-worthy track. It samples Ellis D’s “Work This Pu**y” and finds Teyana singing to her lover and basically telling him to do what the song says the entire time. It is definitely one of those fashion model walk songs. It is very upbeat and energetic.

Overall, there are several problems I had with K.T.S.E. 1. Instead of the project being a cohesive unit that tells a story through each song, it comes off like eight random tracks that were thrown together. Honestly, how does one immediately go from “Never Would Have Made It,” a completely beautiful, inspirational song, to “WTP?” 2. The sequencing was lacking, transitions were needed, and the flow of the album is really all over the place. 3. The production, although good, did not really cater to the artist that Teyana is. Some songs did not match the production and it was just confusing. 4. The promotion and rollout for this album was blatantly disrespectful. Everything seemed half-done. Not only did the album not release on the said date, but then we find out that it was really never completed and will not be updated (until further notice). Lastly, 5. there is no overall theme of this project. As a fan of Teyana and her debut album, going from that amazing body of work to this album was disappointing.

The album was not what I expected. I wanted more of what “Gonna Love Me,” “Issues/Hold On,” and “Rose In Harlem” exhibited. Those are the best three songs on the album. Teyana remained true to her sound and artistry in each of those. I actually do not feel that any of the other songs on the album are bad or awful. It is simply that they are rather random. They lack cohesion. As a complete body of work, they do not work. It really could have been a great release. She has all the proper momentum and attention necessary for the project. She’s a great artist and her vocals are actually great. Eight songs were just not enough for Teyana. She needed that 12-14 song limit to further reveal her talents to the world. Hopefully the unheard songs that Tey places in her visuals will be good. As far as the album, besides those tracks the album itself just was not impressive as it should have been.