It’s finally over. The G.O.O.D. Music wave of projects executively produced by Kanye West has passed. While it will be interesting to see if any of these projects last, it is already apparent that Keep That Same Energy, the newest album from Teyana Talor, is the most fun and least-pressurized of the lot. DAYTONA, ye, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, and NASIR were all statement pieces about the place of each prospective artist’s place in the game or their own lives currently. Taylor’s album feels the least like a statement piece out of the group.
It’s interesting to see how Taylor thrives. She was introduced to the world on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen, launched her music career with the lackluster “Google Me,” then reinvented herself with 90s nostalgia on her debut VII, which was released four years ago. The benefit of sporadically releasing music, it might be concluded, is that Teyana hasn’t been labeled with a certain identifiable sound. No expectations mean no restraints and K.T.S.E. contains songs entitled “3Way” and closes with “WTP” (an acronym that stands for “Work This P***y”). The music and samples feature a wide range of sounds, from classic soul ballad samples of the Delfonics and Billy Stewart to the kind of up-tempo, electric R&B that could be found at fashion shows. Indeed, it is the least trendy of any of the recent G.O.O.D. Music projects.
Taylor excels in the setting that Kanye creates for her. Her husky singing over the handsome funkiness of “Gonna Love Me” and “Issues/Hold On” show an artist that has grown exceedingly since the days of her 2014 hit “Maybe.” For the most part, she isn’t trying to find a perfect mix between R&B and rap here, but rather express a certain level of joy that is all too frequently missing from her contemporaries. You can hear it in her falsettos on “Gonna Love Me” and in the rhythm of her vocals on “Hurry.” Her confidence on “Rose In Harlem” comes as a surge of electricity to some of her earlier coolness that sounds like the kind of energy from which many of the younger generation of hip-hop artists are making a name for themselves.
K.T.S.E. is not a dramatic departure from VII, but it does suggest Taylor is capable of taking her career and music in multiple directions. Kanye does her voice and tastes justice with his production, and she does him favors by closing out the G.O.O.D. strongly.