Harlem’s Teyana Taylor ‘…still mastering and being a better me’

6/18/2020, midnight

One of the biggest headscratchers in research is seeing a definitive timeline associated with the term Harlem Renaissance. Per Wikipedia, the movement was spawned during the intellectual, social, and artistic explosion centered in Harlem from 1918 until the mid-1930s. Really? Looking at it with a side-eye glance could imply that there was a pause in the worldwide flavor being generated in Harlem. Did THAT end? I would think not. Further proof drops on Juneteenth and it’s more than coincidental. Follow me. As a total artist Teyana Taylor is completely shackle-free. Her resume reveals an ACCOMPLISHED skillset as a singer, songwriter, producer, director, dancer/choreographer, actor, fitness guru, model, and two-time mother. The latter was unbeknownst until it was revealed in a way that we should be accustomed from her as Taylor delighted fans this week with the very special announcement that her and husband Iman Shumpert are pregnant with their second child in her new video for “Wake Up Love,” featuring Iman, daughter Junie and a special guest. “Wake Up Love” is the latest in a string of singles from Teyana’s wildly anticipated new album, “THE ALBUM,” due when? June 19th.

“I literally can do everything. I never look at anything as being impossible,” she explains. “I exhaust all options to make what happen when I need to make happen.” Her mantra made her an early favorite to artists like Pharrell, who she signed her first deal with, and she later choreographed videos for artists like Beyoncé and Jay-Z. In 2014, Teyana’s love for the arts and R&B earned her the title of the first woman signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint as she dropped her debut album “VII,” with tracks like “Maybe” (featuring Yo Gotti and Pusha T) and the sultry “Just Different” shaping her musical persona. (How can a brother get it so right with Teyana and so wrong with Candance is beyond me, but I digress.) The critically acclaimed album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart upon release, showing that her debut project was indeed highly anticipated. “I fought for that raw, hood necessary R&B and now I feel like it’s better than ever,” she says.

Things turned way up for Taylor with the sophomore project “K.T.S.E,” as the world caught up with Teyana’s talents. With her all-female production company The Aunties, Teyana self-directed videos for “WTP,” the RIAA gold-selling single “Gonna Love Me” (whose remix features Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Raekwon), and recently, “Issues/Hold On.” Teyana has also directed videos for her peers like T.I. (“You”), Monica (“Commitment”), and Lil Duval (“Pull Up” featuring Ty Dolla $ign) with fans like Ms. Lauryn Hill and Elton John praising her boss moves. Teyana’s increasingly significant and dynamic body of work as a director was celebrated with a 2020 BET Award nomination for Best Director. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the home team!

Part of what makes Teyana stand out from the rest is her ability to move with precision and poise in everything she does. From the studio to the stage, every idea is a project with the singer front and center with a vision all her own. With her musical inspirations like Aaliyah, Teena Marie, Mint Condition and Janet Jackson speaking to her soul, Teyana is aware her mission is larger than life. “I’m working on me every day and I think that’s my purpose,” she says, comparing her life to a never-ending book. “I’m still going, still mastering and being a better me.”

For album number three, “THE ALBUM” features Teyana’s new graduation anthem “Made It,” the Janet Jackson-approved viral sensation “Bare Wit Me,” the Kanye West-produced “We Got Love,” and “How You Want It? (HYWI?)” featuring King Combs with additional special guests Rick Ross, Erykah Badu, Quavo, Missy Elliott, Future and Big Sean. If we’re able, let’s get Harlem’s own back to the top of the charts.

Over and out, holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.