It was 2005 when we were first introduced to the effortlessly fly Teyana Taylor. Most of us remember her larger than life curls and tomboy swag on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 and her “Google Me” debut single. However, none of us could have predicted how bright her star would continue to shine over a decade later. Equal parts raw talent, incredible work ethic and unmatched sex appeal, this wife and mother of two continues to raise the bar with every new level she pushes herself to.
Is it time to make the case for Teyana Taylor being the renaissance woman of our generation?
Well, let’s look at the material.
In music, she blends the deep register of 90s R&B divas like Brandy with the sultry lyricism of today’s generation. She has the remarkable ability to give you nostalgia wrapped in a completely current sound while putting together albums that are enjoyable from start to finish. Her last two offerings, 2020’s The Album and 2018’s K.T.S.E, were audibly stunning and proved that she was not only a force to be reckoned with vocally but a worthy rival in penmanship as her name appears amongst the writers on almost every track. And if the songs weren’t dope enough, Teyana’s creativity with visuals truly upped the ante. Her videos for ‘Bare With Me’, ‘Gonna Love Me’, ‘Concrete’ and ‘Lose Each Other’ are reminiscent of the golden age of music videos where artists took pride in furthering the experience of the album through stories that feel like mini films rather than 5 minute montages.
However, the videos themselves are just the tip of the iceberg when you add in the fact that Teyana, herself, along with her Aunties Inc. production team, are writing the concepts, financing and shooting them. Dubbing herself Spike Tey, she has emerged as one of the most in demand video directors creating visuals for everyone from Monica to Wale and SchoolboyQ. Taking control of how not only her music but the music of others is visually interpreted is a power move that only few other artists have managed to pull. Names like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar come to mind but not even these powerhouses stepped behind the camera themselves. This is no small feat and a major flex.
Her reign doesn’t stop there though.
Slated to appear in the heavily anticipated sequel to Coming To America, Teyana has also carved out a very real space for herself in TV shows, films and in the canon of live performers who put on one hell of a show. Her punchline from Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family still rings in my ears whenever I hear the name ‘Byron’ and her tribute to the legendary Lil' Kim at the 2016 VH1 Hip Hop Honors lives in my head rent free. Don't even get me started on Kanye West's Fade video, shot only a year after giving birth to her first child, that made us all run straight to the gym. Chile. Her infectious confidence, athletic physique and dance prowess make her one of the most captivating live performers of our era. She oozes sensuality and doesn’t shy away from being a grown ass woman who completely embraces sexual desire and pleasure. Her lap dance show breaks give some serious Janet vibes and, in a way that very few can, she makes you believe every single bit of it.
The truth is, whatever Teyana is selling, I am always buying.
So, it comes as no surprise that brands have tapped her to bring them the authentic cool that seems to radiate from the inside of her. Let’s just be clear…Teyana Taylor has never met an article of clothing that didn’t like her back. She can go from street style to glam and back without missing a beat. Where some people seem to need fashion to make a statement, Teyana is the statement. Her collaborations with Karl Kani, PrettyLittleThing, Adidas, and even the historic Jordan brand prove that she makes the clothes. Not the other way around. And that’s the case with every moment she’s blessed us with from fashion shows to red carpets.
If you’re keeping score; that’s fashion, music, movies and video direction plus longevity in a business that is known for eating artists alive. That’s a commitment to staying true to herself even if it meant taking criticism and having patience when it came to releasing her art on her own terms. That’s 16 years of not being able to take your eyes off of Teyana Taylor. Only the truly special ones stay around for that long. I'd say, renaissance woman is one way to describe her, for sure, but another word fits just as well: iconic.