The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
Despite having just three albums to her name, make no mistake of it: Teyana Taylor is a veteran in the R&B world. Ten years ago, Taylor withered her way onto Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album at the final hour. It’s there she provided background vocals and, thanks to the satisfaction of Mr. West, would be signed to his GOOD Music imprint in 2012. Two years later, she would release her debut album VII while her sophomore effort would arrive nearly four years later in 2018. After successfully executing a quick turnaround for album No. 3, Taylor looks to present her one-of-a-kind artistic vision once again with her spotlight-claiming release, The Album.
The Album attempts to ensure that Taylor will receive her crowning moment among the masses. It’s a moment that would have arrived with her 2018 album K.T.S.E. — if her vision had not been shelved for that of her label boss’, who saw it fit that projects shave off half their weight for a quicker-yet-unfulfilling listening experience. This time around, Teyana cruises with two hands on the wheel while backseat drivers are left to find their own ride.
With all outside interference removed from her creative field of vision, Taylor’s third album presents a love absent from the fairy tale experience. Listeners are instead introduced to an emotional whirlwind that resides heavily in lust, persuasion, and sadness. Backed by Rick Ross and daughter Junie on “Come Back To Me,” Taylor seeks a momentary end to the fights and struggles of her relationship. Propelled by exhaustion and doubts towards the true nature of his feelings for her, she wearily loosens her once-tight grip with the hope that if the love is real and true, they will find their way back to each other. Two songs later the persuasion continues with Taylor calling on Erykah Badu for a modern-day version of Badu’s “Next Lifetime” record on “Lowkey.” Fighting against a “right person, wrong time” premise, she attempts to persuade her secret lover to try and make things work, despite all signs pointing to its failures. “I want it / But this ain’t the right time,” she sings. “But, dammit, you’re so fine / So take me tonight.”
Moving away from the moments of persuasion on The Album, Taylor dives headfirst into accounts of her sexual pleasures. Intending to make sure every minute of the night is filled with satisfaction, Taylor recruits Kehlani for a steamy night between the two women on “Morning.” “I’m five foot five, I can handle it / You fine, fine, fine, you scandalous,” Kehlani says on the song, while Taylor promises to “give it to you just how you want it.” Taylor continues to satisfy her desires two songs later on “69.” Fantasizing and then detailing a night focused on simultaneous satisfaction, Taylor begs her lover to let go of their grudges against her as she has done the same with him. Not looking to place the blame on anyone, she instead poses the idea of simultaneously apologizing for their part in the issue by playing their respective numerical roles in the bedroom. “Mad about some argument from yesterday,” Taylor says. “’Cause tonight, no need to fight, I can ease your mind.”
Embarking on the last third of The Album, Taylor veers into moments of sadness as her ventures into love prove to be one-sided and unfulfilling for herself. Tired and fed-up on “Concrete,” she compares her unsuccessful attempts of getting through to her hard-headed partner to parsing through concrete. Her pain can be felt as she emotionally belts out her displeasures with lyrics like “Tryna get through to you feels like a burden / Why am I so confused if we’re for certain?” Time and time again her complaints and concerns are downplayed and viewed as not serious, leaving her to privately seek a relationship that is rock solid rather than a partner with an impenetrable ear to her needs. The following song, “Still,” is quite literally soaked in tears as she sings, “I keep crying for love / But it won’t wipe my tears.” Playing as a double entendre for the pain inflicted by love and being a part of Black America, especially as a woman, Taylor is left to be consoled by her tears as the love she desperately seeks is nowhere to be found.
The Album goes on for a bit too long and, as a fan, the eyes eventually grow tired and the ears overworked. Not to say the quality of the songs diminished at any point on the album, but the quality of The Album and its listening experience would have been boosted by a considerable amount. Setting the few flaws aside, Teyana Taylor’s third album is a well-written book of love in her own eyes, one that shows the many faces of pain, confidence, hope, pleasure, and happiness enclosed in an emotional playback of the birth of her first child and a celebratory discovery of love.
The Album is out now via G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam. Get it here.