As the world continues to undergo these unpredictable times, music continues to heal. With everything happening right now, it’s actually been very hard to focus on new music that’s been dropping. It’s been even harder to take the time to dissect said music. Regardless, even through the chaos, Teyana Taylor has managed to deliver an utterly captivating body of work with her third album, The Album.
After the poor handling of her 2018 sophomore album KTSE, Teyana’s back and better than ever. Released on Juneteenth, holding 23 songs and 6 videos, The Album divides into 5 sections (or studios). Throughout the album, fans witness the various layers of Teyana. She utilizes each of the studios to explore love, family, sexuality, motherhood, insecurities, strength, and pain. Tey uses the album to fully tell her story, her way.
The project features a star-studded line up with greats like Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott, Kehlani, Big Sean, Lauryn Hill, & more. Studio A begins with a chilling intro as listeners hear a frightening 911 phone call. Teyana’s husband, 2016 NBA Champion, Iman Shumpert hysterically follows instructions as Teyana gives birth to their chocolate queen, Junie. Junie stays on the scene joining forces with her mommy on “Come Back To Me,” featuring Rick Ross. Family time continues on “Wake Up Love” as Teyana recruits her husband for one of the most charming verses on the album.
From the start of the album, it’s clear that Teyana’s roots trace back to the days of classic R&B. She channels much of her delivery through vintage R&B production. Her creativity shines on The Album through interpolations, references, and the sampling of various classic gems from the beloved 90’s / 2000’s R&B era. Teyana utilizes nostalgia in such a beautiful way. On “Lowkey,” Teyana reworks Erykah Badu’s “Next Lifetime” and flips it to innovate a new feel. Maintaining the original sound, Teyana generates refreshing yet relatable vibes for the new generation of listeners. “Let’s Build” finds Tey and Quavo playing on Guy’s “Let’s Chill” as the two harmonize (nicely might I add) on building a true fortified love together. On “Boomin,” Teyana calls forth Timbaland and Missy Elliott to deliver that trademark futuristic (yet old school) R&B funk. Sampling Blaque’s “808,” Tey, Missy, and Future make pure magic together.
Studio L provides pure sexuality. “1-800-One-Night” playfully creates vivid imagery as Teyana creates a sex hotline jingle. One of the album’s steamiest songs arrives at the stimulating Kehlani-assisted “Morning.” The track even hints at some potential threesome activity (as Teyana has made it clear that she is not against that). Much like the title, “69” leaves very little to the imagination as Teyana assures her love that she knows how to please him just how he likes.
Transitioning into Studio B, Teyana focuses on vulnerability and self-worth. Beginning with “Bad,” Teyana reflects on the damage from relationships that has ultimately turned her into this unapologetic savage. She maintains this same energy on “Wrong Bitch” reminding her lover that she’s not some pushover. She lets him know that if he continues to play with her heart, he will tap into a whole new side of her. On “Shoot It Up” Teyana makes it illicitly clear that she cannot be with someone who is incapable of returning the love that she exhibits. Studio B ends with what may be one of the best tracks on the album, “Bare With Me.” Teyana places her insecurities on the table declaring that she cannot let guard down and that anyone pursuing her will simply have to deal with her flaws.
As the album progresses, Teyana becomes more vulnerable entering Studio U. With every relationship comes the ups and downs, the good and bad, and the pretty and ugly. On “Lose Each Other” Teyana bellows about staying together to weather the storms that appear in relationships. She does not want the love to end. Her frustrations pour out on “Concrete,” as she questions the status of the relationship. Her passion intensifies on “Still” as she cries out for love, peace, and security; Just the mere thought of her lover brings her to knees. Studio U’s vulnerability pulls at listeners’ hearts. Many will truly relate to this section.
Ending on an uplifting note, Studio M symbolizes love, victory, and triumph. On “Try Again,” Teyana pays respects to Aaliyah’s “Try Again” while adding an innovative zest to it. With “Friends,” Tey again utilizes the nostalgia formula paying homage to the legendary Musiq Soulchld. The Album’s final songs, “Made It” and “We Got Love” leave listeners with one main factor – love.
Through these trying times, it’s easy to lose hope. On “Made It,” Teyana celebrates black excellence and success. She creates an anthem of pure love that can nearly bring you to tears. It is honestly one of my absolute favorite moments on the album. “We Got Love” is self-explanatory – Love is all we have and all we need. Teyana again praises blackness and black love in all forms.
Teyana reminds us that no matter how tough life gets, love is a constant in each and every one of our lives. It is what will keep us going. Adding the icing on the cake, Teyana taps on Lauryn Hill who delivers moving inspirational words towards the end of the track as she dissects what truly determines love.
“Above all, you keep your clarity
You keep your focus
You keep your sense of love
And you keep your sense of purpose (Throw your hands up)
Those are, they’re integral, you know, they’re key.”
Overall, Teyana delivered with this new project. With every listen, you find a new song that you may not have paid attention to initially. Each listen gets better than the first. I personally am very thankful that she was able to bounce back from the frustration, anger, and disappointment of KTSE. From the songs, videos, and more, Teyana deserves all of her flowers right now. While Teyana has been on the scene for over a decade, this album almost acts as her reintroduction. Listeners embark on a journey with her through this album that makes for such a moving, fun listen.
I give The Album 8.5/10.
Top Songs From The Album:
- Bare Wit Me
- Wake Up Love
- Made It
- Let’s Build
- Try Again
- Shoot It Up
Wrong Bitch, We Got Love, 69, Killa, Come Back To Me