Is Kanye West Sabotaging Teyana Taylor’s Music Career?
For some reason, which could probably be attributed to a love of all things adult film, Kanye West was the creative director for the Pornhub Awards in Los Angeles, which aired on Thursday night. Pornhub is the largest pornographic video sharing site, and the awards recognize achievement in…all things sex, I guess.
According to Vulture, West was behind the “monsterish dildo trophies” that were handed out, and provided styling for all of the presenters, who wore curve-hugging, barely-there ensembles that for this particular event, were actually appropriate.
West is a professed fan of the site, so one could say that his heavy involvement in the awards made sense. But one person’s involvement in it did not, and that’s Teyana Taylor. She performed a few tracks from her latest West-produced album, KTSE (Keep the Same Energy), including “WTP” and “Hurry,” which he joined Taylor on stage to perform.
As I watched her dance around in a blue wig and skintight bodysuit, I thought, how did she get here?
And I’m not talking solely about this very random awards show, but in general. How did Taylor’s music career end up being treated like an afterthought by everyone on her team, particularly by Mr. West?
Ever since she obtained mainstream megastardom in 2016 by dancing in West’s video for “Fade,” Taylor has been marketed as everything but a singer for the last few years. She has been the girl with the sickening body, posing in ad campaigns for swimsuits and lingerie. She has been the incredible dancer, two-stepping on stages for VH1 specials and closing out fashion shows. She has been the actress, signing up for roles in movies and starring in BET’s Hit the Floor. And she’s been a reality star, showing off her family life with husband Iman Shumpert on VH1’s Teyana and Iman. She has literally done anything you can think of and had every opportunity to be everything (including a shoe designer, dance fitness instructor and even a threesome expert) but the singer she set out to be taken seriously as.
After putting out her debut album VII in 2014, her musical pursuits went pretty quiet. She dropped a mixtape a year later, The Cassette Tape 1994, both solid pieces of work. However, from there, the wait began for something new. A year later, West would utilize Taylor, not for her voice, but for her body and dance moves, to star in “Fade,” and after that, her music became the last priority. You could tell that from the way KTSE came and went earlier this year.
Even Taylor had to speak up about certain disappointments in the rollout of an album that was only 23 minutes. Everything about it seemed to be rushed (West literally was still working on it on a plane from Paris hours before release). She didn’t know until a final meeting to confirm the musical calendar for the year that her album was going to be part of a five-album rollout from GOOD Music, and that her project was coming out last. She told Hot 97 that she decided to go with the flow of things, but was dismayed when she found out there would be no videos or singles released to promote it.
“I didn’t know ahead of time that there wouldn’t be any singles or visuals,” she told Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning. “But I knew that it was going to be the five-album thing, [Kanye] wanted [my album] to be last, you know, he wanted mine to be the biggest. That’s the way they sauced it up. I was sold.”
But it wasn’t the biggest. Out of all five of the albums rolled out, with West only allowing each to have seven tracks, hers sold the least. KTSE did 23,000 album-equivalent units, with only 7,000 pure album sales in its first week.
She called the release of the album a “misunderstanding” after it was put out a day late due to unresolved sample clearance issues. She promised her fans that an updated version of the album would be released a week later. It wasn’t.
And the album was heavily influenced by West. Though work on it was described as a “collaboration,” the songs sound nothing like any of Taylor’s previous work and instead are more like his vision. They are tracks inspired by the way he thinks: A little gospel here, a lot of sex there, and an old-school sample in the middle.
Not to mention, the release of her album came right after the man who had his hand on it was being dragged all over the Internet for saying that slavery sounded like a choice to him. She was the last to have her album shared with the world after that controversy, and with the least amount of buzz and support. Still, Taylor was left to explain the album drama all by herself to fans.
And don’t even get me started on how she ended up being booked to co-headline a tour with Jeremih of all people, only for that to end in drama because she was allegedly being mistreated.
But Taylor stands by the decisions made on her behalf by her G.O.O.D. Music family, as she did when she worried that people thought she was complaining about her album’s release, which she had every right and reason to:
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For a better clarity of my "publicized emotions" toward my album…I LOVE MY ALBUM and never said that I didnt AND BELIEVE IN MY ALBUM with all of me. My complaints never came from a place of anger but more so from a place of hurt that I felt that I owed the world more. After 5 years of patience I could have anticipated the culture would be hurt that all I had to offer them was 23 mins. I have a very loyal and active fan base that I'm extremely indebted to and that I am extremely dedicated to. Though a shortened version shocked me upon its released date i appreciate my brother Ye for helping me produce my most vulnerable, personal and soulful album to date. I think that our collaboration on this album shows and proves to add to the culture we creatives promise to push forward! I never meant for my passion to be mistaken for ungratefulness however i'm always open to agreeing to disagree, that doesnt take away from the bond I share with not only Ye but all of my G.O.O.D Music family. Yall know ima keep shit a buck! #KTSE and last but not least I want to thank everyone for the love and support of #KTSE! 💕
I respect and understand the loyalty. However, it feels like Taylor’s being led any which-a-way by West. Just because he had her moaning on “Hurry” and putting out a song where she literally says “Work this pu–y” on KTSE doesn’t mean her talent is a good fit for the Pornhub Awards. And the fact that she was the only G.O.O.D. Music artist asked to perform says a lot.
It’s as though West has these grandiose visions and plans for her that mostly involve harping on Taylor’s sexuality and body, but have less to do with helping her to flourish in the way that she deserves to as an artist. And as West continues to have his focus on too many things and goes through these public ups and downs, Taylor needs to take a cue from former G.O.O.D. Music artists John Legend and Common and move away from him. If she does, she may finally have more creative control of what she’s doing and put out the music she’s been wanting to, her way. It worked for the aforementioned men, who’ve experienced career resurgences since leaving the label, performing and taking home awards on the Emmy and Oscar stages. Meanwhile, Teyana is standing on stage at the Pornhub awards, likely trying to figure out the same thing I’m wondering: How in the hell did she get here?