Teyana Taylor finally claims her space on "VII".
We first heard from the young Harlemite in 2008 when she released her first single, âGoogle Me,â from her debut project, a mixtape titled From a Planet Called Harlem. The Jazze Pha-produced single sank low on the Billboard charts and left Teyana Taylor with something to prove. Before her musical debut, Taylor was featured on MTVâs âMy Super Sweet 16,â showcasing her over-the-top birthday bash, which was the start of people pegging the teenager as just another socialite without any real talent.Â
Back then, the singer, rapper and dancer was signed to Pharrellâs imprint, Star Trak Entertainment, through Interscope Records but seemed to be frustrated and confined, leading her to eventually be released from her contract in 2012. Before that Taylor dabbled in acting and modeling for a while, putting her music career on the back burner besides a handful of guest appearances (Kanye West, Trey Songz, Missy Elliott, Fabolous).
Early 2012, Taylor released her independent offering, The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor, an ode to Lauryn Hill. The release was a substantial effort highlighting Taylorâs growth as a rapper and singer, but not enough to anchor her as a heavyweight contender. With VII, Taylor can finally hush up naysayers because her vocals are more mature than ever before. On this record, she exudes the type of confidence that isn't taking no for an answer and proves that she has finally carved out her space in the music industry.
VII, opens up with the one minute and eleven-second interlude, âOutta My League,â where Taylor sings about being invisible to a dude thatâs unobtainable. Itâs clear that Taylor has studied those that came before her, specifically Brandy. On âJust Different,â she channels the âI Wanna Be Downâ singer with her airy vocals over the soulful track that has a melancholy feel. Taylor then switches gears and taps into her sultry side onÂ the steamy âRequestâ and seductive âDo Not Disturb,â which features her longtime friend Chris Brown. Fabolous makes an appearance on âBroken Hearted Girl,â but donât let the title fool you. The song is far more than just about a love lost. At the end, the 23-year-old interpolates the late Teena Marieâs famous run from âPorteguese Love.â Although itâs not executed exquisitely (it would be much better sans echo) a true R&B fan would appreciate the reference.
âPut Your Love Onâ and the Pusha T and Yo Gotti assisted âMaybeâ are about the only tracks that are dance worthy, which is interesting being that Taylor came out the gate showcasing her moves. But itâs understandable why Taylor decided to focus on her vocals vs. offering a bunch of attempted club bangers. The new hair line owner sings her heart out on the bittersweet ballad âSorry.â âYou had your cake and a gift that day/ Something that our love didnât create/ Now as you watch from far away. All I can say is Iâm sorry,â she sings. Taylor reminds listeners of Ginuwineâs heyday on the sassy song âBusiness,â which is also the only place she can be found rapping. She finishes up the 14-track album with songs that highlight her vocal capabilities such as on âIn the Airâ andÂ âIt Could Just Be Love.â
Overall, the Harlem songstress has proved that sheâs not the same teenager that we were introduced to seven years ago on MTV. Sheâs a grown woman who has had her share of heart break and is now assertive. Taylor has no qualms about asking for what she wants and letting who she wants know exactly who she is and what sheâs about. VII is a clear example of that.Â