K.T.S.E. – Teyana Taylor

This review is part of the Colossus Guest Time Series. Some weeks will have one, some will have two, others will have none. At Colossus we are committed to be for the people and by the people! If you are interested in writing a review of your favorite album, DM us on Twitter at @music_colossus!

The roll out of G.O.O.D. Music releases at the beginning of the summer was an event covered more for its orchestrator’s statements and behavior than the product being promoted. It also suffered from not delivering albums on time (except for Pusha T’s which actually leaked early) such that each album came out later than the one before it. Kanye’s leaked around 9:30 am, Kids See Ghosts closer to 11:00 am, Nas’s didn’t drop til the late hours of Friday night, while Teyana Taylor’s still hadn’t hit even when we woke up Saturday morning. Combined with her own criticisms of the record, it’s no surprise why this album was passed over, especially as the general consensus by the time it finally came out was that the entire Wyoming project was a fail and that Kanye had truly lost it. That perception is unfortunate because this really is the best of the whole output as Ms. Taylor croons over what is arguably Kanye’s finest production in years; the result being a beautiful 90s R&B throwback album that’s perfect for the summer.

The opening chorus of strings and piano paint a lush landscape while Ms. Taylor celebrates her relationship but also reminding us that she’s no pushover as she cleverly states “I got a man, but ain’t got no manners”. In true Kanye form we’re greeted with a strange and haunting sample that awkwardly yet brilliantly cuts and then our vocalist comes back to repeat her serenade of matrimonious merriment. When the sample returns and is again axed with the quickness we begin the album proper as “Gonna Love Me” immediately transports you to a feeling of bliss with a Delfonics sample over Michael Jackson drums creating a simple yet infectious beat you can’t help but move to. Ms. Taylor’s smooth vocals carry through the unassuming track which Kanye has so perfectly crafted to capture a sound reminiscent of Ms. Lauryn Hill.

This album contains Kanye’s most soulful production since The College Dropout as he lets us know he’s still got it and is still the best at it, even as he seemingly trolls us with laser sounds inexplicably thrown in on the charming “Issues/Hold On”.  The album continues with more incredible sampling on “Hurry” and “A Rose in Harlem”, both songs incorporating additional instruments late in the track to provide beautiful layers to the already exquisite production. The piano on the last hook of “Hurry” is a simple yet perfect complement to Ms. Taylor’s soft tone while the strings on “A Rose in Harlem” take the song from a sample-driven banger to an elegant black-tie affair as you can practically feel the chandelier lighting the ballroom dancefloor while high society flows throughout the lavish hall.

The crowning jewel of K.T.S.E. is “Never Would Have Made It” which is Ms. Taylor’s love letter to the man who has supported her through it at all. It starts as a ballad then quickly turns into a joyful celebration as the beat drops into something so hype yet so beautiful at the same time. To be honest I’d almost prefer to hear Mary J. Blige sing this but that might just be due to the stripped vocals. This is something frequently found on the album which requires Ms. Taylor to rise to a level most singers don’t need to these days as so many songs are overproduced with multiple vocal layers. Yet, part of Kanye’s genius on this album is to give us only one vocal track on most of the songs, leaving the rawness of Ms. Taylor’s voice to sell the emotion of her words while the production carries the track.

It’s damn near criminal how much this project got slept on as Teyana Taylor really blessed us with an amazing album that’s perfect for that exciting time post-cuffing season when you’re out meeting a new companion to spend those warm summer evenings making new memories with. Fans of a time when R&B was about passionately pursuing a love interest as opposed to just recklessly dismissing hazy mistakes will find tranquility in this quaint project as Ms. Taylor pours her heart and soul into every track while Kanye further cements his legacy as one of the greatest artists of our generation.



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