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Five thoughts after first listen: Teyana Taylor – ‘K.T.S.E.’

Teyana Taylor has been in the industry for over ten years. After making her first appearance in showbiz on MTV’s Super Sweet 16, the artist eventually signed to GOOD Music. Following years of complications, delays and false-starts, Teyana got her big breakthrough via Kanye West’s Fade visual in 2016. Still, to date the act has only released one album (VII) which debuted just under four years ago. Now, the singer is back with her sophomore set titled K.T.S.E. (Keep That Same Energy), but does Teyana make up for lost time? Following an initial listen, LØST CULTURE presents five first thoughts.

 

1). K.T.S.E is R&B / Gospel nostalgia

From start to finish K.T.S.E. is engulfed in sampling from a variety of different time periods. With over half of the set featuring at least one sample (six tracks), it’s clear that this project is in line with typical Kanye West stratagem. However, this isn’t a bad thing as Teyana has always been an old soul both vocally, and in her musical influences. Teyana sounds self-assured and natural, as she tackles the rustic yet up-to date Ye soundscapes and brings a revitalised touch to the realm of R&B.

 

2) Teyana has one of the most interesting voices in R&B right now

Whether it’s her clear and powerful runs or the deeper elements to her voice, which evoke a sense of the 90’s instantly, Teyana demonstrates that she has one of the most distinctive voices in the new era of R&B. It’s clear as the project progresses, that the raspy components of the GOOD signees vocal are her best asset. Throughout K.T.S.E., Teyana’s rasp follows her every move adding a trial of grazing to each track. It’s almost as if this layering is a part of the production on a subtle level, giving the singer her own USP.

 

3) There’s an obvious lack of music

The biggest flaw of K.T.S.E. is that it simply fails to give the masses what they wanted – a true, full-length introduction to Teyana Taylor. Unfortunately, due to the poor roll-out of VII, which was completely the fault of GOOD Music, Teyana is technically still viewed as a new artist to the mainstream arena. Furthermore, as far as the masses know, K.T.S.E. is the singers formal debut. Taking all of this into consideration, eight tracks were just not enough to achieve a cohesive, full length body of work and the album unfortunately reflects this clearly.

 

4)… However, there are no bad records on K.T.S.E.

The tracks that we do have however, are laced in quality and all compliment both the place that Teyana is in in life (WTP for example, reflecting her fashion breakthrough and inspiration taken from dance culture), and her growth as an artist. Each record genuinely feels full and packed with effort as the project progresses. Vocally, Teyana could’ve expanded on her capabilities,  but what she does bring to the table doesn’t feel unnecessary or too much as other singers have done in the past (Jennifer Hudson for example). The tracks overall, echo Teyana’s cool and laid back demeanour juxtaposed with a renegades soul that refuses to be silenced.

 

5) Overall, there is a lack of connection to theme

Although each record does contextually fit in with where Teyana is in life, together it felt like a mix-and-match approach to the track-listing. Having a record such as WTP right after a gospel take was odd and in terms of story-telling / themes, it just didn’t feel like it was placed well. Overall, this gave a rushed feel to the project in terms of it sticking to that “Keep That Same Energy” schema. Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel like it was Teyana’s fault, but Ye’s. It was quite publicly reported that the album was still being worked on post-release party, and that is clearly echoed as K.T.S.E. from an organisational perspective, comes across as an overdue project compounded together to form a finished production. Still, as highlighted above, no bad records or production.

 

Stream K.T.S.E. below:


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