Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E. Review and Sampling Controversy

Teyana Taylor, is one of many talented artists signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label under Def Jam. This year marks the 10th year anniversary of her first major R&B release with G.O.O.D. Music “Google Me”. Ten years down the line, she has established herself as an all around entertainer as her singing, dancing and acting skills have notably been enhanced. Though Taylor has developed into an illustrious R&B artist and overall performer, her music has been scarce.

The release of her most recent project, K.T.S.E (Keep That Same Energy), was scheduled to drop early morning on Friday June 22nd 2018. As Friday passed along, fans expressed their frustrations as their anticipation for the release begged for their patience. Taylor joined in on her fans’ confusion, retweeting fan posts commenting on the delay of her sophomore album. The producer and overseer of the album, Kanye West, began to catch a lot of heat as the fans began to blame his personal controversies for the delay. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, ran to his defense tweeting that her husband was finishing up the album on his way back from Paris. The album was released on nearly all online streaming sites that next day, Saturday June 23rd, 2018.

Taylor is a rare artist that is not bound to one genre, making K.T.S.E a gratifying surprise in comparison to her 2014 album VII. Taylor’s soothing vocals over sampled tracks blends 80’s nostalgia with Hip Hop and R&B vibes. Taylor vacillates from a soulful lounge-singer with “No Manners”, “Gonna Love Me” and “Issues/Hold On” to a heart tugging tribute to her daughter Junie with the gospel driven “Never Would Have Made It”. “Hurry” featuring the ever so talented Mr.West and “Rose in Harlem”, brings life to a soothing old school Hip Hop feel. “3Way” divulges into a more sexual and sensual side of Taylor as she harps on her succulent vocals. The album is closed out by a mid 80’s like party song “WTP” giving true fans of Taylor’s a joyous anticipation to see her perform it live with killer choreography.

Of the many samples weaved throughout the album, Billy Stewart’s “I Do Love You” was used in Taylor’s second track "Issues/ Hold on". This specific sample may be key in finding out the true reason for the album’s delay possibly being due to sample clearance issues. Chicago-based label, The Numero Group, has made claims that Kanye West failed to clear the Billy Stewart sample. The song appeared on The Numero Group's Boddie Recording Company box set back in 2010. The record label's co-founder, Rob Sevier, has noted that the company has not heard from G.O.O.D. Music in regards to the song."Without getting too nuanced, the Boddie Recording Company owns this master, and we represent their interests in such matters. I want to be explicit that while we haven’t actually heard anything from Kanye’s team about this sample, we are in the midst of multiple other clearances and I don’t want to imply that they don’t intend to clear it," he explained.

Though neither West or Taylor have made an open statement on the accusations, During an interview with Big Boy's Neighborhood on June 26th, 2018, Taylor spoke on her plans to make several updates to her highly anticipated album by this weekend. Taylor stated, “Saturday, Sunday, you’ll hear the complete version of the album. At the end of ‘Issues,’ I had the Sade piece in there. The end of ‘Rose in Harlem,’ I had [Lauryn Hill’s] ‘Lost Ones’ in there, and I was really talking that shit," she continued. "Once y'all hear the album next week, you'll see what I'm talking about because it's way more complete." Though she made no mention of problems with sampling clearances, one can only hope that the issue is resolved concluding her updates.

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