It’s been a long time coming but Teyana Taylor‘s The Album is finally here. Arriving on Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of US slavery, Taylor brings together an outstanding cast of black talent to support her on a lengthy 23-track record. We’ve been anticipating this one so join us as we walk through it track-by-track.
The intro begins with a phone conversation of what seems to be her husband Iman Shumpert speaking with an ambulance operator after the unexpected birth of her first child. It’s an intense beginning that shows us she’s going to be covering some shit on this album.
Come Back To Me (Feat. Rick Ross)
This is what we come to a Teyana Taylor album for. The instrumental is a vintage, chopped & screwed R&B beat and the first voice we hear is Rick Ross who comes through with a typically rocksteady verse. Taylor takes it slow, giving us those luscious vocals just as she did on K.T.S.E. Junie makes an appearance in this one too making the album a whole family affair. Here for it.
Wake Up Love (Feat. IMAN)
As we said, it’s a family affair and it seems Taylor is keeping it intimate for the album’s beginning. We weren’t hyped by this song when it initially dropped but it makes more sense in the context of the album. That said, getting sleepy on the third track of a 23-song album isn’t a good sign.
Lowkey (Feat. Erykah Badu)
Alright, we’re back. We know Erykah Badu isn’t going to let us down. Lowkey is another intimate, mid-tempo cut and Taylor is bringing out some of her softest vocals we’ve heard yet. She switches up the flow on the second verse and that’s where things turn from good to great. “I want it but this ain’t the right time,” she sings, concluding, “I’ll see you next lifetime.” Badu comes through with some wise musings that quickly get intimate.
Let’s Build (Feat. Quavo)
This collaboration made no sense to us when we first looked at the tracklist but we’re digging this sensual Murda Beatz beat. “Let’s build,” Taylor sings gently before Quavo comes in. This is a more sensitive delivery from him but he doesn’t hold a candle to Taylor. Oop, we’ve changed our mind. The pair sing together at the end and it sounds surprisingly great. The two compliment each other.
This album has been effectively broken up into five parts and this sees us enter the second. Based on the song names along we’re guessing part two is getting dirty. Taylor basically turns the lights down on this one singing, “We’ll make it one night so do me right,” as the beat flickers in the background.
Morning (Feat. Kehlani)
We know and love this one but she’s giving us more on the album. There’s an extended intro that sets the mood even better than the original. Before we head into the original version, Taylor gives us a brilliant run-through of the hook complete with staccato beats. This song is excellent. We’d take a full album from these two.
Boomin (Feat. Missy Elliott & Future)
This one comes in seamlessly after Mornin’ and begins with Future. His presence is felt throughout the entire song as is Missy’s even though she isn’t given a verse. No one gives more detail in their bedroom anthems than Taylor and she gives it all here. “Sensation down in my toes,” she sings as the beat pounds alongside her. For those who have Future feature fatigue, this verse will re-capture your attention. He sits in the beat and gives a present, tender verse.
Last album she gave us 3Way and this time we’re getting 69. While Taylor was giving her man what he wants in 3Way, she’s in complete control on 69. “Don’t look at me with that bullshit look upon your face,” she sings. It would normally be captivating but we’re at track 9 now and we’re ready for a tempo switch-up.
Killa (Feat. DaVido)
And there it is. Taylor is taking on afrobeat on Killa and she sounds excellent. Her voice hovers over the danceable beat with a steady command. She could go faster over this beat but she chooses to elongate her notes and it’s hypnotizing. DaVido easily gives one of the best performances on the album but he’s in his wheelhouse here so it’s unsurprising.
We’re into part three of the album and you can immediately tell she’s switched it up. Going for dancehall on this one, her voice sounds stronger and her presence is more immediate. Bad hits hard but at under 2 minutes, it’s gone before you’ve really sunk into it.
Switching gears, we’re back into mid-tempo but Taylor maintains that stronger vocal delivery. “Keep fucking round, you’re gon’ look stupid,” she sings in total command.
Shoot It Up (Feat. Big Sean)
Big Sean and Taylor are label mates but this is the first time they have officially hooked up for a track. Sean is no stranger to a song about a broken relationship and his verse feels right on this song. Given that this is about trust issues and mutual aggression, it would’ve been nice to hear a little more grunt on this one. It coasts too often.
Bare Wit Me
We already know and love this one. The video is phenomenal and it’s easily one of the strongest songs on the album so far.
Lose Each Other
This is what we’ve been wanting. A little bit more power from the album. These keys are being pressed with strength on this one as Taylor matches it with a gospel-like vocal. She’s contemplating the consequences of the end of a relationship and pleading for contact. “You can still text me sometime,” she sings. Mike Dean is on the credits here and after his work on K.T.S.E. it’s easy to see why this is a clear highlight on the album.
I’m trying to figure out why some of these mid-tempos aren’t hitting right. The first verse and chorus of nearly every song is excellent but then nothing really changes. Concrete runs for nearly 4 minutes but there’s really no element of surprise.
This beat hits harder. Taylor matches it with the vocal too giving the raspiest chorus of the album. In fact, this might be one the best vocals on the entire album. This one has rise and fall too which has been my issue with the others. I feel like we’re getting dynamics on Still and it’s captivating. She breaks down at the end singing, “I keep crying for you.” So far the fourth part of the album is the best.
She’s on a Lauryn Hill wave on Ever Ever as she samples Sweetest Thing from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. Hill’s fingerprints are all over this record even when she’s not actually credited. You can tell she’s Taylor’s biggest inspiration and it’s nice to hear her update a Hill song. She really sings on this one, taking the reigns in the verses with some unstoppable runs. “How sad that all things come to an end,” she sings which feels apt given she’s stretched this album to 23 songs.
Nija Charles, one of the best young songwriters in the game right now, has a co-write on this one and she brings some obvious punch to it. Taylor sings faster, verging on rapping in the verses and it adds a much-needed burst of energy to the album.
Here’s the sort of beat that we needed. NOVA Wav brings bounce to this one, undercutting it with a soulful vibe. Taylor sings, “You want me to settle, you gotta do better.” She’s giving her man the freedom to go if he wants to and the sonic of Friends possess the open door motif of the lyrics. An album highlight.
How You Want It? (Feat. King Combs)
This was an early drop from the album but it’s still easily one of the best cuts on it. It’s the one that possesses the same vintage energy of K.T.S.E. which we probably expected to get a little more across The Album.
Made It is another pre-album release that brings the energy to the album. Coming in at track-22 this one feels like a celebratory one. It’s triumphant and joyous, sparkling with horns and perky vocals.
We Got Love (Feat. Lauryn Hill)
We Got Love has been the mantra of this album since the start and it feels right that it ended up on here and not on Kanye’s scrapped Yandhi. It’s an uplifting, unifying song that’s a brilliant closer to the album. “I gave birth on the bathroom floor,” Taylor sings bringing us full circle back to that intro. It’s a conclusive statement that ties a very lengthy album together.
On an unrelated note, we didn’t think we’d say this in 2020 but it actually would’ve been nice to see Kanye’s fingerprints over some more of the album.