k.t.s.e.-1

When June 22 rolled around, I was cool on these Kanye drops. If you’re familiar with my past work, you know Yeezy’s my guy. However, his continued attempts to be more relevant than great is beginning to bother me. I hate the fact that I have to talk about him first when this is Teyana’s time to shine. Following numerous failed release dates, Taylor grew impatient with her G.O.O.D Music label and Kanye West’s neglect. He promised a certain amount of creative effort and attention that he did not give her. While we all know how busy someone of West’s caliber is, making promises you can’t keep is distasteful. We’ve all done it before, though. It happens, especially in the music industry. Regardless, Teyana’s Ye-produced project landed and it’s quite solid. Although she claimed K.T.S.E. was incomplete upon release, Taylor has since rescinded that statement. She should be proud.

This is a snapshot of modern soul despite some tracks being shelved for lack of sample clearance. At first, the opener “No Manners” underwhelmed me. And, to a lesser degree, it still does. It’s simply too short. The runtime here totals just under 23 minutes. Also, if you disregard the horrendously misplaced “WTP,” the true album is only 20 minutes. As much as I love songs like “Gonna Love Me” and “Rose in Harlem,” I can’t help but wish Kanye took a step back here. Since I’m a big fan of Ye, the news of him dropping five albums in a row was exciting to me. Nevertheless, at the end of it all, this hectic rollout feels more like a gimmick than an important musical moment. Trends go out of style — rather quickly, actually. But quality is timeless. Kanye’s stranglehold on these albums hurt them in the long run.

I have my own theories as to why Kanye pulled this stunt, though I’ll spare you for now. In terms of this album in particular, the final track says it all. “WTP,” which is short for “Work This Pussy” is the eighth song of the bunch. But wait a minute. Aren’t all these albums supposed to only be seven songs? So, what’s up with that? Perhaps Teyana pushed to have more tracks based on her and Ye’s past creative differences. Maybe Kanye thought it would be “dope” to end the album on a what-the-fuck moment. Either way, “WTP” completely branches off from K.T.S.E.‘s soulful aesthetic, which is its crowning achievement. There is no reason for it to be here whatsoever. It seems to me that Kanye was afraid this album would be better than his eighth solo album. Who knows.

What I do know for sure is that Teyana Taylor sang her ass off here. Her voice is full, robust and clear. How she weaves her way through these 20 minutes is nothing short of impressive. Due to her vocal strength it’s easy to gloss over the occasionally generic songwriting. Yet it’s never truly an issue. West’s verse on “Hurry” is competent and enjoyable. The moaning on the track diminishes its replay value, but it’s whatever honestly. Unfortunately much of the album is also kinda whatever. In spite of some forgettable moments, K.T.S.E. is a sensual, romantic effort. Kanye is back in his bag with the glorious soul samples. Conversely, the non-sampled “3Way” sounds like a mid-level hit from 13 years ago. I would’ve liked to hear a real three-person affair on the track. All in all, though, Taylor’s second studio album is an overshadowed R&B gem. Don’t sleep.

 

Album Review: Teyana Taylor - K.T.S.E.
Soulful AestheticBrilliant Vocal ControlSmooth, Cohesive Production
Closing Track SabotageFleeting RuntimeSome Generic Songwriting
7.1POSITIVE
Production7.6
Songwriting5.5
Vocal Performance8.3
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