Teyana Taylor released her long-awaited LP The Album on Juneteenth as a celebration of Black people and Black culture. The release date and the LP portray the message that, “No matter what we go through, we always pull through,” Taylor explained in an NPR interview. Released under the labels Def Jam Recordings and GOOD Music, The Album showcases Taylor’s flawless artistry and her ability to create music for all kinds of moods. It is a statement of expertise and excellence in music making.
Taylor did not hold back while making The Album: It has a running time of more than 70 minutes and 23 tracks. Within the LP, there are five sections — labeled as “studios” — each with a theme, including love, sexuality, self-worth, vulnerability and triumph. Taylor’s unique vocals stand out throughout the entire LP. At the same time, notable collaborations with Erykah Badu, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and many more bring variety to The Album.
Studio A is all about love. It begins with an emotional intro that plays both Iman Shumpert’s marriage proposal to Taylor and an intense 911 call Shumpert made when their daughter was unexpectedly born. The intro sets a tone of familiar intimacy for this section of The Album. Another memorable song in Studio A is “Lowkey” featuring Badu. The song discusses feeling indecisive about a lover as Taylor beautifully sings, “I want it (Want it)/ But this ain’t the right time/ But, damnit, you’re so fine.” Meanwhile, Badu unexpectedly and smoothly takes over the song’s last half with her soul-grabbing voice and hypnotizing beats.
Studio L begins the theme of sexuality with “1800-One-Night,” which exudes sexiness and fun. The overall concept and sound resemble a catchy advertisement for a sex phone line. It is straightforward with lyrics such as: “1-800-One-Nite, you can call anytime/ Do whatever you like, you’ll be fucking all night.” Altogether, Studio L takes a direct, confident approach to sexuality with great collaborations such as Kehlani’s vocals in “Morning” and “Boomin,” featuring Elliott and Future.
The song “Bad” emits confidence in Studio B. Clocking in at less than two minutes, “Bad” has an energetic reggae sound. As Taylor explained via Apple Music, “Bad” is a bold record that encourages listeners to unapologetically be a “bad bitch.” Shifting gears with a more emotional approach, “Wrong Bitch” and “Shoot It Up” featuring Big Sean, deal with self-respect while navigating romance and dating. In Studio B, Taylor takes an unconventional approach to self-esteem that moves beyond insecurities and appearances. Instead, she explores self-worth in love and intimacy.
“Lose Each Other” introduces vulnerability to Studio U. In the song, Taylor’s alluring voice emotionally calls out to a lover, “We don’t have to lose each other/ We could still be friends if you want it.” The four tracks in this section maintain a calm, passionate approach in their sound. Some lyrics explore heartbreak and love, while other songs, such as “Still,” discuss vulnerability in resistance. Regarding “Still,” Taylor explained via Apple Music, “It’s about being Black in America and everything that we’re going through. We’re constantly crying for love, we’re constantly crying for hope, we’re constantly crying for peace.”
The last section in The Album, Studio M, discusses triumph. “Made It,” released as a single May 22, is dedicated to the graduating class of 2020. The song has a fast, upbeat sound and its lyrics represent pride and joy. “We Got Love,” the last song, features an interlude with Hill and maintains the upbeat energy of the previous three songs. It is a feel-good song, an anthem for motivation and a celebration of love.
All in all, The Album is a result of Taylor’s excellence accompanied by great musicality and all-star collaborations. Each track in the LP showcases an array of emotions, all worth listening to. With The Album, Taylor sends a message about the beauty in unlimited musical expression. She demonstrates her talent and mastery in music while remaining vulnerable and honest.
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