After being released from Pharrell Williams’s Star Trak label in the beginning of the year, Teyana Taylor is officially G.O.O.D. In the spring, she signed a deal with Kanye West’s label. In April, she released her first EP, entitled The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor. The disc received mixed reviews from music critics. She is now gearing up for the release of G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer compilation album which arrives September 4. On August 6, Teyana will hit the studio to start working on her debut solo album. In an interview with Complex, Teyana talked about meeting Kanye West for the first time, being the only female signed to G.O.O.D. Music, Cruel Summer, being released from Star Trak, fashion and much more. Below are some excerpts:
How did you first meet Kanye West?
At his Glow in the Dark tour with him, N.E.R.D. and Rihanna. At the time I was signed to Pharrell Williams and his Star Trak label. Kanye used to always like my outfits. So from jump we became fashion friends and we’d talk about different clothes and designing different things. We’d email each other different garments that we liked. That’s how we became friends and super close.
What’s it like to be the only G.O.O.D. girl?
It feels great, knowing that I’m the first and only girl. It just makes me think about everybody who doubted. To have the opportunity to be a part of something so iconic is amazing.
What are you doing on the Cruel Summer album?
I rapped on certain songs. I sing on certain songs. But like everyone else in the group, I really don’t know what’s making the album. But it’s definitely going to be some hot shit. Different shit. Not that shit that everybody expects.
You dropped your mixtape in the spring. Can we expect more of the hip-hop soul type of sound from you?
My mixtape, The Misunderstanding Of Teyana Taylor, gives people a very ‘90s vibe. I’m pretty consistent with my music. Kanye loves that. He’s always like, “Every time she gets on a track, she’s on some Mary shit.” I just appreciate the way R&B used to be. I’m trapped in it. I’m staying consistent with it.
Picture: Fabien Montique
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NEXT PAGE: TEYANA SPEAKS ON BEING RELEASED FROM STAR TRAK, FASHION & MORE
Did you ask for a release from Star Trak because you were frustrated with how you were being handled?
I wouldn’t say it was frustration. It’s just that I was signed to Star Trak for six years. And I was not working. If anything, it got frustrating for me because fans would ask me where my new music was and I’d be like, “I ask my label the same questions you ask me. I wonder the same things.” People don’t know the politics behind being signed to a label. So they just blame me like, “She doesn’t do anything” not knowing that if the label doesn’t move, nothing happens.
So I eventually asked for a release. I wanted some time to find myself as an artist and to release a mixtape and to just be a free agent. And they gave it to me. I deserved it. It was a blessing. What if I had peeked at 15, 16? I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be here at G.O.O.D. Pharrell was a blessing, though. Now it’s Kanye.
Speaking of your style, you were one of, if the not the first, chick to bring back the more street look for women. You were wearing Jordans and BBC and fitted caps when you first came out. Now Rihanna and Rita Ora are on it. Do you feel like that’s your look?
I do feel like I influence a lot of artists. But the way I look at it is not in a negative way. I love them. When I came in the game, it wasn’t okay to be a girl and wear sneakers and hats and streetwear. They called me gay. Now the tomboy thing, it’s sexy. Rihanna and Rita Ora are fly and sexy. I’m happy I was able to pave that way. I love seeing our artists dressed like that. You ain’t gay if you throw on sneakers and a hat. Nobody can take that away from me and say, “Oh, she didn’t start that trend.” They all know. I’ve always been about this life and mixing kicks with high fashion on some ghetto chic shit.
Have you started working on your solo album yet?
I start August 6. I’m so excited. I’ll be in the studio for a month straight. I’m going in. My iPod is full of Total, 112, and Mary. Mint Condition and Donnell Jones and Brandy. That’s what I want to accomplish. I want that ‘90s vibe.
Read the interview in its entirety over at Complex.