You could say that Teyana Taylor’s VII has been the longest-awaited R’n’B album in recent history. For years after Teyana first appeared on the music scene, she appeared on radio and television talk shows, discussing music that no one would ever hear. It all began in 2008, when then 16-year old Teyana attached herself to Atlanta producer Jazzy Phae and released her first single, “Google Me,” a song that had no follow up album. This single, along with her rumored relationship with Lil Wayne, gave Teyana a spot in the public eye, setting her up with a massive hip-hop fan base who found themselves abandoned when Teyana failed to release any more music. But this year, she came back.
Of course, this comeback was after six years of being stuck under a contract with Star Trek Records. The record label, owned by Pharrell Williams, failed to find a definitive sound and image for Teyana, and she therefore could not record anything new. The contract was very strict and didn’t allow her to leave until she fulfilled the commitment. Finally, the time did come, and super-producer Kanye West signed her to his record label G.O.O.D Music.
VII is a new sound and feeling from Teyana Taylor, as she is clearly more mature than when she began. The “princess of Harlem” has evolved into a queen of R’n’B and soul. VII begins with the “Outta My League Interlude,” which starts with a reworked version of the intro to Aaliyah’s “4 Page Letter.” The volume in the mixed production goes ‘up some more’ and ‘up some more.’ This choice allows the listeners to understand what sound Teyana is going for, but when the vocals begin, it is clear that Teyana sets out to surpass the abilities of the late great Aaliyah. Then the second track, “Just Different,” throws that exquisite voice over the edge just to prove that she is capable. The sound has a neo-soul composition with an intriguing mixture of soul and hip-hop lyrics.
“Request” is the album third single which allures with the looping chimes and play alone at first then continue under Teyana’s lovely vocals. In this sexy song, Teyana sings “Breath in / Relax / Boy, set your mind for what’s coming next / Tell me secrets / So I can perform what you like / Boy, what’s your request.” This song truly introduces Teyana’s womanhood while at the same time keep her vocal talent in the forefront.
Another single from her album is “Do Not Disturb” featuring Chris Brown. “Do Not Disturb” is the highly-played, sexy, radio hit that samples songs from 90s R’n’B hits. As a collection, the album is well done. It has Teyana’s stamp on it, but a lot of melodies are borrowed from artists who came before her, making it less original than it could have been. Likewise, many of the lyrics are also borrowed, and the ones that are not, are quite simple as her voice is meant to be the main attraction in this album. But as a whole, VII a great mixture of contemporary sound and timeless melodies. It is an exciting first attempt for Teyana and truly lives up to the G.O.O.D Music tradition.