An extraordinary return from the R&B goddess...

This month of June belongs to one woman and woman only, and that’s Teyana Meshay Jacqueli Taylor.

Undeniably flying the flag for Harlem, Teyana has kept us on our toes this month leading up to the release of her third studio album 'THE ALBUM'. From announcing her collaboration with M.A.C Cosmetics for the launch of a 90s inspired make-up collection to the unveiling of her second pregnancy with husband Iman Shumpert and daughter Junie, G.O.O.D Music’s fiercest alumni has been patiently waiting to release her anticipated album.

Descending on Juneteenth (June 19th), a day of celebration and commemoration at the end of slavery for Black people in the United States, the album comes at an essential time across the globe with the #BlackLivesMatter movement playing a significant part in today’s climate for justice.

Following the release of her 2018 second studio album 'K.T.S.E.', 'THE ALBUM' is a vibrant and stalwart symbolism of Teyana’s unapologetic, bold blackness. From the hard-hitting ode to Grace Jones on the cover to the troupe of Black artists she recruited for the album, Teyana has delivered her most sonically solid album to date.

From Erykah Badu to Missy Elliott to Lauryn Hill, 'THE ALBUM' accouches '23' lyrically soothing and engaging tracks that fulfil all your fantasies and appreciation for Black womanhood. The intro delineates the mood with recorded audio clips from Teyana’s life, including her marriage proposal and a 911 emergency phone call of a frantic Iman during the home birth of Junie. 'Come Back To Me' featuring Rick Ross and Junie and 'Wake Up Love' featuring husband Iman serves a personal love story from Teyana to her nearest and dearest.

There’s a profusion of standout tracks that invite you into Teyana’s world of emotions, sex and vulnerability starting with the track four 'Lowkey' - a partnership with the First Lady of Neo-Soul Erykah Badu. The soulful silky track samples lyrics and elements from Badu’s 1997 single’ Next Lifetime’. Teyana’s tale of love from a horny perspective takes you on the first journey of passion as she sings “I want it but this ain’t the right time the damage is so fine so take me tonight... and I’m horny, a lot on the night, please don’t play with my mind ooh I gotta decline. What if I see you next lifetime? I’m fucking wid you; I promise you’ll be mine”. The ear-pleasing delivery of 'Lowkey' carries a continuous theme of sampling throughout the album.

From Mase’s 'What You Want' to Lauryn Hill’s 'Doo-Wop (That Thing)' to Blaque’s '808', you can hear the evolution in her creativity as an artist. Teyana’s trajectory in R&B thus far has been a reliable performance. Tracks like '1-800-One-Nite', 'Mornin’ and '69' carry her effortless vocals well allowing her more libidinous side to take centre stage while being accompanied by crisp drums and light guitars.

Other tracks like 'Killa', which features Afrobeats artist Davido sees Teyana dig deep into her roots, giving us an African beat with muted modern hip hop elements. Much like 'K.T.S.E.', 'THIS ALBUM' features substantial producing from Kanye West as well as MIKE DEAN, Seven Aurelius, Hitmaka, Cardiak, Boogz, Bizness Boi, Johan Lenox, E*Vax, NinetyFour, NOVA WAV, Baruch “Mixx” Nembhard, Tune Da Rula, and Miguel Jimenez.

'THE ALBUM' is full of themes and statements. Tracks like 'Wrong Bitch' are clear cut reminders that her womanhood, blackness and common sense is not a political playground. “You got the wrong, wrong bitch; you got the wrong bitch yeah” she lightly sings as she reminds you “baby you could be replaced, that’s where you’re making a mistake if you don’t think I won’t skate on you”.

The motivational spoken word outro provided by Ms Lauryn Hill at the end of 'We Got Love' will leave with goosebumps as she preaches self-love, the significance of family, her definition of success and how happiness is the most important thing to her. In Bare Wit Me, she does that actually by showing her more vulnerable side. “I never let my guard down, but you steady trying to wife it oh, don’t you see that I got baggage, my hearts way hard to manage”.

My only critique for the album is its length. Twenty-three songs seemed a bit excessive to me. However, it’s clear from the first listen that this album serves as Teyana’s most personal steady project yet. Teyana has been marching to the beat of her drum since her introduction to the world back in 2006, and she’s kept her foot on our necks ever since. This album is Black Woman Magic at its finest, and it’s become even more apparent since 'K.T.S.E.' that she has left the tutu and the cotton candy from 'My Super Sweet Sixteen' in her past.

This a grown woman ready to continue her reign over R&B. We have no choice but to stan.

9/10

Words: Shakeena Johnson

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