Album Review: Teyana Taylor - Keep That Same Energy (K.T.S.E.)
It was only a matter of time before ‘Yeezy Season’ had to come to an end, and given the turn it took recently with Kanye West and Nas’ ill-fated collaboration Nasir, West’s ‘five albums in five weeks’ stunt became one of increasingly diminishing returns, and so it’s only fitting (but unfortunate never the less) that it comes to an unceremonious conclusion.
Who is Teyana Taylor?
The short answer is that she is the G.O.O.D. Music signee who received the short end of the stick when it came to West’s production marathon—Taylor’s album, Keep That Same Energy, or K.T.S.E, was slated last, for a June 22nd release; out of the five records West was involved with, it received the least amount of fanfare surrounding its imminent release; and sure, it features eight tracks instead of seven (all of West’s other records this summer have been structured around seven tracks), but it also wasn’t available for public consumption until June 23rd.
“Sometimes you have to wait on greatness,” G.O.O.D Music president Pusha T said on Instagram, promoting the album’s release on Saturday—easy for you to say, Push; your album was first in succession, and it arrived on time. Five weeks later, West’s strategy of working on a record until the very last possible second (and sometimes beyond) found him burnt out creatively, maxing out the goodwill of listeners who eagerly gathered around the computer on Thursday night for the live-streamed listening parties, who blindly pre-ordered merchandise bundles, and who eagerly downloaded these albums once they were available.
Who is Teyana Taylor?
The short answer is she’s a 27 year old singer, loosely associated with Kanye West and G.O.O.D Music, and even with West’s production and being included in the hype of this five week release cycle, Taylor is not charismatic enough to carry herself through these eight tracks.
Keep That Same Energy is a tragic choice for an album title, because both she, and West, are unable to do that—this album is more or less fucking terrible.
Here’s the thing—Keep That Same Energy doesn’t start off on a fucking terrible note. It’s actually very promising—or at least, the first two proper songs, “Gonna Love Me” and “Issues/Hold On” are both outstanding, showcasing Taylor’s vocal prowess as a modern R&B chanteuse, and harkening back to West’s earliest production techniques, while finding him working in a rather reserved, understated way.
Without a doubt, K.T.S.E would be an amazing record if the whole thing were to maintain this kind of affect; however, this is not the case, and even before it hits the halfway mark, the whole thing just falls apart into bloated, over-sexualized garbage.
Who is Teyana Taylor?
She was, apparently, featured on West’s opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, though I’m not entirely certain in what capacity; later in 2010, she sang the refrain on “Christmas in Harlem,” given away as part of the ‘G.O.O.D Friday’ music series, then later released in a much truncated version. She also made contributions to the G.O.O.D Music collaborative album, Cruel Summer—specifically singing the outro to “To The World.”
In 2014, her first proper album, VII, was released, debuting within the top 20, though it performed poorly after its first week; prior to that and even prior to her contributions to MBDTF, Taylor had been on the cusp of stardom for years, circling it through a failed deal with Star Trak, Pharrell Williams’ now defunct label, as well as her appearance on an episode of MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” time spent as a ‘video vixen,’ and a one off single, “Google Me,” from a decade ago.
In a sense, including Taylor in the ‘Wyoming Sessions’ album cycle was a chance for her to really come into her own—the opportunity to put a persona or at the very least, a face, with the name you see listed after ‘featuring’ on a song in your iTunes library. However, K.T.S.E. is a missed opportunity, and Taylor does not come into her own as a performer at all throughout the album’s eight tracks and its mercifully short running time (22 minutes, making it the shortest of the Jackson Hole, Wyoming records.)
The album begins to fall apart around the time West arrives as a featured guest, on the dirge-like “Hurry,” and it really only gets worse from there by the time the cringe-inducing, embarrassing “3Way” begins—a song about exactly what you think it would be. It boasts Taylor cooing such lines as, “I’ma take off my skirt, then she gon’ touch me right there,” and comes complete with a guest verse from D- List G.O.O.D Music rapper and crooner Ty Dolla $ign, who delights the listener with such fascinating lyrics as, “You, on my face, ride me like the Wraith,” and “I watch you lickin on her while I beat it from the back.”
From there, the album descends even further, with the generic, trap-inspired slink of “Rose in Harlem,” a song that finds Taylor attempting to frenetically rap (spoiler alert: she’s not very convincing), followed by a very bland sounding attempt at uplifting pop/R&B on “Never Would Have Made It.”
The album ends on a baffling, raunchy note—“W.T.P”—or, “Work This Pussy” is a kaleidoscopic and dizzying track, yet confounding in its production. Based around a sample of a song by the same name, by Go Bitch Go!, the song pays homage to the Harlem Ballroom scene, and incorporates appearances from the gender bending queer rapper Mykki Blanco. The whole thing winds up being a bit of a clusterfuck of ideas—Blanco’s vocals and the sampled voice saying “Work This Pussy” over and over again leads one to believe that it is a real tribute to ball culture in Harlem, however, Taylor’s lyrics, delivered through an Auto Tuned warble, are brief, unimaginative, and hyper sexual—and take away from whatever the intent of this song may have been.
Who is Teyana Taylor?
I think we’re still waiting to find out—at this rate, we may never actually find out. This album certainly is not going to tell us.
Keep That Same Energy is not one of the worst album’s I’ve ever heard, but it’s the kind of thing that will not be sticking around on my computer’s hard drive. It’s an amalgamation of unfortunate misses, making for a maddeningly uneven and disappointing listen.
Rest in peace to ‘Yeezy Season.’ You flew too close to the sun.