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Teyana Taylor deserved so much better

Trey Alston

 // Jul 3, 2018

Artist // Instagram

Of course, of G.O.O.D. Music's five-week album rollout plan, Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E. was saved for last. Of course, the album missed its intended release date by well over 24 hours. Of course, it was revealed that Teyana's project was rushed, even though it was still late, so she planned on releasing an updated album the following week to appease her fans who felt the album was incomplete, And, the final candle on the cake, of course the reworked album won't be coming out thanks to sample clearance and some other schmaltz. Who called it? Was I the only one? Surely not. Although, I am tempted to try my luck at the casino next week.

This can't be some supernatural string of circumstances that the universe bent to my will; it's moreso Teyana Taylor at the whim of a collective that sees her as a token of inclusivity. Kanye West's machismo-driven machine that consists of nine male artists and three female counterparts treats her as expendable, tacked on the end of a sentence like unnecessary, garish adjectives. She adds the much-needed spunk and New York panache to a group historically deemed as artsy, lacking grit.

There are two other women currently signed to G.O.O.D. Music :  former Yeezus Tour backup dancer-turned-singer Kacy Hill (she released her song "Experience" while on the tour and Kanye heard whiff of it, decided to sign her immediately), whose debut Like A Woman received lukewarm reception and resulted in her falling off of the map; and 070 Shake, a breakout crooner introduced to the world through socialite and business maestro Yes Julz. Before this triumvirate, fourteen artists called G.O.O.D. home — and none of them were women. Teyana Taylor signed to the group in 2012 and appeared on its posse album Cruel Summer later that year, but she largely fell by the wayside until her debut VII came out in 2014.

To say that misogyny runs through G.O.O.D. Music's bloodline may be a stretch, however it is worth nothing that Kanye practically tells on himself in "Violent Crimes" when he comes to the realization that women are more than vaginas with heads: "Father forgive me, I'm scared of the karma / 'Cause now I see women as somethin' to nurture / Not somethin' to conquer."

In 2018, Kanye West, figure head of the G.O.O.D. Music label and Yeezy fashion brand, reveals that women are more than conquests and that they're to be respected. The song goes on to explain that this revolutionary way of thinking (that rappers often spill about once becoming fathers) can be stretched back to the birth of his own daughter North West in 2013. He's grown to love his mini-me, even as she grows and, according to the song, will become a woman that he'll be fiercely overprotective of. But, all of this is now ; five years ago, he wouldn't have known a thing about being respectful to women. Even, when on the same album, he refers to his woman as a "bitch" on more than one occasion.

If anyone could chronicle Kanye's weird journey with respecting women, it'd be Teyana Taylor. She was there right before North West was born, so exploring a mid-30s creative who happens to be her boss and doesn't know the first thing about handling the First Lady of G.O.O.D Music's career would be easy, and somewhat easier to forgive. There's no reason, outside of carelessness, that Teyana's debut came out nearly two years after her addition to the label, while Big Sean's first mixtape under the G.O.O.D Music umbrella came out in 2007, the year that he was signed to the label. Kacy Hill suffered a similar fate. She signed to the label in 2014 and Like A Woman didn't see release until 2017, it carrying much of the loosies that she'd been giving out since her time signed to the label.

But Kacy's problem, to this day, is that she remains relatively obscure in G.O.O.D. Music's mythos. Teyana Taylor, however, is a commanding force with her world-weary intelligence and New York bite that are in stark contrast with her tantalizing, mysterious music. Whereas Kacy Hill's Like A Woman was largely forgettable in the eyes of critics and the culture itself, Teyana's music is highly lauded and the culture responds. So, when she's absent, we feel it. And we also can see when she's being treated like shit.

First up, the plan. Kanye's genius, but not widely-understood, scheme to release a batch of seven-track albums with label members because, hey, summer is coming and G.O.O.D. Music needs to command it. Fair enough. Then came the line-up that would release: first Pusha T, then Kanye himself, followed by Kanye, again, with Kid Cudi, then Nas and, lastly, Teyana Taylor. This is the part where the record scratches. What kind of top-heavy rollout is this? Why would you load the scales with the biggest artists first, then have Teyana Taylor round out the ending? We're already force-fed so much music — a 2014 study from Nielsen Music reveals that we consume more than 25 hours each week — that we tune out rapid, back-to-back releases. What was the benefit of leaving her to fend for herself after all of her bigger, more established labelmates came before her?

Pusha T's album came, along with it dragging controversy in the form of Drake's dangling career. Kanye came next, hot on the heels of a political shit show, his mouth writing checks that Donald Trump could, and probably did cash on. That same controversy, along with the duo's rollercoaster history, added some seasoning to Kanye and Kid Cudi's joint album. Then, the domestic abuse allegations levied against Nas (which, surprisingly, had near no effect on the album's performance) crackled the air with electricity. But Teyana? The only thing that preceded her album's release was fatigue. Listeners and journalists were tired from the previous storm. They just gestured for her to pass the album along so they could get the listen over with. Not to mention, a surprise release from Beyoncé and JAY-Z in Everything Is Love, the deaths of XXXTentacion and Jimmy Wopo, and the whirlwind of media preparation, like for a camping trip, ahead of Drake's release of Scorpion. It was just bad timing all around.

Nothing could change the disastrous luck of the events beyond the collective's control, but if they were to have reversed the way things were coming out, it would have been much more beneficial to Teyana and the group. Her coming first would have whet the appetites of fans and attracted new ones to cash in on the five-week experience. Nas' album would have served as a similar attention-grabber, with the collective's more soulful approach to the projects building a uniform them. Then Kanye, Kid Cudi, and Pusha T could have come with the three-album trilogy of extravagant orchestral and chaotic sounds. Much more poetic, fair, and coherent. Not to mention, these heavyweights would be more conditioned to surviving surprise albums. Instead, we were left with decent, at best, interest in the final two albums of the experiment. Go figure.

When release dates come, typically the albums hit streaming services at 12 a.m. sharp. Not 12:01, 12:15, or 1:00 a.m.—12. Each of Kanye's releases had to get the finishing pinches of garlic before they were made to the public, per his promised dates in the first place. They were late — yet, for the most part, they still managed to get in before deadline. Fans were annoyed, especially reviewers who'd scheduled their day around the assumed timeliness of a labelhead bold enough to give due dates for artists that he'd been executive producing for (yes, I'm salty), but things worked out. All except for Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E., arriving a full day late, and then some change. The explanation? Sample clearance, final tuning, you know, stuff that should have been cleared way before release day, let along release week. But a common theme with the albums was that they were all worked on in the week or two before the release. But the day-of? Come on Kanye, that was low.

So instead of flipping things like any respectable person would have done (props to Teyana for keeping her cool), she just revealed that an updated version of her album would be coming very soon. More tracks, the elusive Lauryn Hill and Sade samples that were present during the release party, everything that we were missing would be coming. And then, just as soon as she announced it, she took to twitter to break the bad news. She even started the tweet off with "I guess," indicating that there was no guesswork involved. The powers-that-be decided to can her true album, so now she will result to visuals instead to explain the full spectrum of her vision for the album.

All of this seems to stem from what seems like carelessness from Kanye West, maybe not purposefully, but still, nonetheless, easily apparent. She should have received the star treatment, being that she is the first woman to appear on G.O.O.D. Music's roster, a good friend of Kanye, and one of the more talented and unique singers in the industry. But she was treated as if she's inconsequential to the grand scheme of the label's movement. Will she fall to the wayside like Kacy Hill now that 070 Shake has become the talk of the blogosphere?

I'd like to think that, in an ideal world, Kanye's realization that he should treat women as equals means that he'll understand what he did wrong, enable Teyana to release her new album, and show it the proper support he's shown the other albums that have come out these last few weeks, but he's shown that his capacity for change typically goes in an opposite direction of what growth consists of. If the past is any indicator, controversy is his best friend. He'll let Teyana stew for a while, get over it, then move on. Teyana deserves much better than that. If it's away from G.O.O.D. Music, that'll be fine. The independent lane would probably be best for her anyway. We've gotten two projects worth of creative nostalgia (if that's even a thing; if not, we'll refer to her aesthetic as that from now on) that showcase her unique place in the game. With her and her team running the show instead of a recently-reformed middle-aged adolescent, maybe she could experience that next-level growth that's just been out of reach over the last couple of years.

As journalists and listeners pour over Scorpion and Everything Is Love over the next few weeks, remember that sandwiched in between them is an immensely powerful album from Teyana Taylor that suffered at the hands of management unwilling to give her the spotlight that would make her more than the star of Kanye West's "Fade" video to many unfamiliar with her debut VII. It doesn't take rocket science to realize that Teyana's being given the short end of the stick. Hopefully, sooner than later, the dolts at G.O.O.D. Music (I'm looking at you, Kanye West) realize it too.


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