Teyana Taylor Decodes Kanye’s “FADE” Video For Those Of Us Who Are Too Booked To Make Meaning Of It
This past Sunday, Kanye West premiered the music video to his song “FADE” at the MTV VMAs and it floored viewers.
Dancing to the eclectic song that barely has any lyrics, was his G.O.O.D Music artist, R&B songstress Teyana Taylor who clearly didn’t come to play with any one of us.
Shedding her “Google Me Baby,” MTV’s Sweet Sixteen and even tomboy-chic look, Taylor gave the VMAs audience, viewers and even those who weren’t watching the award show something to investigate with her flawless dance moves and the imagery she created with them.
In the video, Teyana is seen releasing the same passion Rosie Perez exhibited in the Spike Lee’s 1989 hit Do The Right Thing while dipping into a Flashdance– West African- 1990s Crybaby inspired choreography. And while many of us were left in awe of Teyana’s aspiring talent and body, others choose to dissect the video’s symbolism, because it wouldn’t be a Kanye video if you weren’t doing so. But, if you’re still stuck on what Yeezy was trying to convey in the video, Teyana suggests watching it 20 or 40 times — yes that’s literally what she told Vogue’s Patricia Garcia.
Here are few highlights from her interview:
Vogue: What went through your mind after the video premiered?
Teyana: I was shaking. I was on Twitter and Instagram, but my phone was shaking because my hand was shaking. I was so nervous because it was really a do-or-die moment. I’ve worked so hard and I didn’t know that that moment was going to be that huge because I didn’t have time to mentally prepare. But it was dope that I was able to really sit back and really take in the whole moment. It’s emotional because I’ve been in the industry for so long and I’ve never understood why certain things weren’t happening. And now I feel like my story, everything that I’ve been through, makes this moment so much more special. Though it took so long for this to happen, I don’t feel like it could’ve happened at a better time.
Vogue:How did you become the star of this video?
Teyana: It was actually crazy because I was in the studio recording and Kanye came by to the other studio next door to record and asked me to come over real quick. And he was like, “Yo, you killed the Lil’ Kim tribute.” And we talked about that a little bit and then I don’t know how we got into a conversation about me and Iman. We just started talking and I was just rambling and rambling about Iman and to him it was a dope moment to just see love like that, to see that you can really have it all. Even with him, his relationship with Kim is so dope. They have kids, they’re married, they have a friendship. Even Kanye having kids has changed him a lot. He was like, “Dang, you’re singing. Your husband just won a championship. You just had Junie.” I think that really inspired him for the video. Literally when I left the studio and went back to my recording room, [a head representative from G.O.O.D. Music] came up to me and said Kanye wanted me to dance to one of his songs—for “Fade.” I was like, “Oh my god, you’re lying.”
Vogue:Yes! Please, let’s talk about the cat face at the end.
Teyana: Let’s talk about these sheep first, though. They were shitting all over the place—there was poop everywhere! And then little Junie is just so fearless; she’s playing with the sheep. I was just looking at Ye, like Yo, I don’t know what you got going on, but I know it’s going to be good. Because you know with Ye, you just gotta trust him. He’s a genius and you know he just got something up his sleeve.
We filmed that cat scene first. We didn’t shoot the video in order. I was in three hours of makeup and prosthetics to get that thing on my face. The director Eli [Linnetz], he wanted it to be a little bit sexy, so I drew my own brows on the cat face.
Vogue: So Kanye gave no explanation for the cat face.
Yeah, he was just like, I’m going to put you in this cat face. It’s going to be chic. At the same time, being an actor, I love doing stuff like that—to be able to get dressed up and get out of my comfort zone. I was very excited to do something different and artistic, but since we shot backwards, at first, I didn’t know what was going on. I thought, This crazy mother-effer. He’s got 15 sheep in this gym right now, with poop all over the place. It’s crazy the thing that happens behind the scenes; my wig almost flew off. It’s just so dope to watch the final product and know all the things that went into it. From the bottom of the heart this meant so much to me.
Teyana: And no explanation for the sheep either?
It was definitely something deep. The whole video is deeper than people probably processed it. So I feel like it’s up for the people to figure it out. I get it, but I want them to really figure it out and really understand what’s going on. And for them to understand, they’re going to have to watch it 20, and 30, and 40 times.
Personally, I believe, the “FADE: video depicts the need for creation and restoring the universe’s balance. When Teyana is pictured solo in the video, we see her body choreographed to a variety of dances that are linked to calling in a mate.
When the “FADE: video flashes to the steamy shower scene that Teyana shares with her fiancé Iman Shumpert, we see the two become one. This makes an easy transition to the last clip where Teyana is seen as a cat as she lays on Iman while their daughter, Iman Tayla, lays among sheep. This is representative of the well-known “biblical” verse (that’s actually not in the bible): “And the lion will lay down with the sheep.” Despite never making an appearance in the Book of Life, the verse is closely linked to Isaiah Chapter 11 verses 1-6 that prophesies a time where the Christian messiah, Jesus, returns to the earth, restoring peace and order for all.
Although this is just my opinion, it isn’t far-fetched to the abundance both Teyana and Kanye have in their career or family lives.
What does “FADE” mean to you?