The Harlem songstress released her sophomore album ‘Keep That Same Energy,’ concluding Kanye West’s 5-week summer reign of G.O.O.D. Music projects.
Out of all the Kanye-West produced projects announced for this summer, Teyana Taylor’s Keep That Same Energy was the most underrated of them all having no heavy expectations to live up to. Her debut studio album VII, released back in 2014, was her introduction to the world as a singer, but K.T.S.E. was the album that cemented her place as an R&B singer that had more to offer as far as substance and creativity. You can hear the growth and maturity in her music that has evolved from a place of broken relationships, heartbreak, lust, and hopeless romances – typical themes on R&B projects – to new heights. K.T.S.E. was a very vulnerable and emotional album that explored the depths of her monogamy and motherhood in a grown-up manner, proving that in her absence from the industry she was perfecting her craft.
She was first introduced to the world on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen as Pharrell Williams’ newest signee to Star Trek. While at his label she didn’t release much music and even when she signed to G.O.O.D. Music back in 2012 people still questioned what it is that she did. Well according to her she does it all – acting, dancing, modeling, and more but most importantly singing. Over the course of her 10-year career she’s remained a mystery, which is why this album was so crucial to being another career milestone for her. She became a household name after starring in Kanye West’s “Fade” music video and ever since people have had their eyes on her.
When Ye first announced the rollout of G.O.O.D. Music projects coming this summer people were pleasantly surprised to see the wait for new music from the Harlem songstress was finally over. Starting off with Pusha T, then onto his own, his joint album with Cudi, and then Nas’ album, we see why Ye saved the Teyana’s for last. After streaming the album-listening party live and waiting another day-and-a-half to drop it, K.T.S.E. finally arrived.
Even though the initial rollout of the album dragged out entirely too long, K.T.S.E. was an 8-track project deemed special out of the quintet bunch for it’s unapologetic lyrics and mature perspective. With a mix of sultry bedroom tracks, passionate songs, and oldies samples, Taylor’s album encompassed the vibes of growth, acceptance, and sensitivity offered in a project full of self-reflection.
The production on this album is absolutely immaculate and that’s not up for debate – Ye definitely made the right choice saving this album for last. Of all the G.O.O.D. Music albums released over the last 5 weeks, K.T.S.E. is the only one that flexes production in the best way possible. Taylor is very much a 90’s lover, but the vibe for this album definitely went classic, old-school style. The pool of samples used ranged from The Delfonics, James Brown, and Sisqo all the way to Marvin Sapp. The consistency the project offers is that of weight which ranks her album high out of all the R&B projects out right now.
The album begins with “No Manners,” an intimate song dedicated to her husband, Iman Shumpert, loving him through thick and thin. Clocking in at only a minute and thirty-nine seconds, the track is filled with loving sounds of the violin with a fierce vocal performance. “Gonna Love Me” transforms beautiful samples from The Delfonics’ 1970 song “I Gave to You” and Michael Jackson’s “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The song is an intense, yet sentimental offering to relationship struggles and woes.
“And oh, you’re gonna love me, you’re gonna wanna hug me and squeeze me.”
“Issues/ Hold On” is a relatable song to many juggling love and fighting insecurities in relationships. Taylor explores her feelings of being in love in the spotlight on this track and admits her uncertainties. “Don’t give me no reason to go through your phone/ This is deeper than you and other women, This is daddy issues/This is years putting up with the wrong type.” More hints at the kind of things she worries about in her marriage, but also what she’s still battling with from previous relationships. “Hurry” is another seductive track off the album that goes on a fun and teasing romp accompanied with an almost out of place verse from Ye. To be honest, the song would’ve been fine without his verse, but would’ve been better had Taylor added more of her own lyrics.
“3Way” is hands down the raunchiest and most revealing track off the album, unveiling a truth about her and Iman’s marriage we didn’t see coming. With some assistance from Ty Dolla $ign, Taylor finesses her vocal skills while singing of her sexual conquests and three-ways with her lover. Completely flipping the tempo up from “Hurry,” the track gives off sensual energy but combined with Ty’s lyrics make it a perfect selection for your “lusty” playlist.
The most standout track on the album and arguably the best of her’s lyrically is “Rose in Harlem,” a personal song that addressed the rumors and cleared up any confusion about Taylor’s career with such grace. Since she entered the spotlight, her music was put on the back burner until she came out with her smash hit “Maybe” four years ago – even then she didn’t get the same deserving attention she has now. “Rose in Harlem” is her triumphant victory over those who envy her talent and others who hate all while paying homage to real R&B. The horns and percussions on the track give power to the “growing out of concrete” metaphor inspired by Tupac’s The Rose That Grew From Concrete poem. The maturity exerted on this song speaks volumes to her character – instead of seeking vengeance she simply chose to express her humility in her music.
“It be the ones, the ones you closest too, it be the ones, the ones you trust – them too/ It be the ones, the ones you look up to, it be the ones/ Don’t get caught up, young girl.”
In my opinion, after track six the album takes a huge nose dive. Don’t get me wrong the last two tracks were okay, but they don’t match the vibe for the rest of the album. The majority of the album consists of a somber, yet passionate tone, however the last two tracks are very much upbeat. “Never Would Have Made It” obviously is borrowed from Marvin Sapp’s 2007 song, but the message behind Taylor’s version is touching. The song is an ode to all of her fans and those who help support her throughout her career. “WTP” sounded like a bonus track when I first heard it because I thought she was still following the 7-track G.O.O.D. Music formula. It’s definitely a tribute to Harlem’s ballroom culture, created in the 70’s, and a feeling of nostalgia added onto all the other samples featured on the album. In her defense, the song still shows her range and versatility as far as what kind of sounds she can still body. Like I said, these songs are still good but they don’t make for a cohesive album.
K.T.S.E. utilizes a lot of musical and lyrical themes that attest to Teyana Taylor’s journey through motherhood, marriage, love, life, and her career. Her tremendous voice blew everyone’s minds who weren’t hip to her talent, but proved herself as the first lady of G.O.O.D. Music to everyone else. She’s becoming a household name and her music is finally being recognized for what it is – raw, uncut, relatable, and Harlem as hell. K.T.S.E., a 22 minute album, has a few misfires but the music holds its own. In such a short body of work, Teyana Taylor gave us everything we needed but the question is – could we have handled more?