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Teyana Taylor

Teyana Taylor
Diesel fashion show July 17, 2008
Background information
Birth name Teyana Taylor
Born (1990-12-10) December 10, 1990 (age 23)
Origin Harlem, New York, U.S.
Genres Hip hop, pop, R&B
Occupations Singer-songwriter, rapper, dancer, actress, model
Years active 2007–present
Labels GOOD Music, Def Jam
Associated acts Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, R. Kelly

Teyana Taylor (born December 10, 1990) is an American recording artist and actress. In 2012, she officially signed to Kanye West's GOOD Music label and The Island Def Jam Music Group, after previously being signed to Interscope Records and Pharrell Williams' Star Trak Entertainment.[1]

Early life

Teyana Taylor was born and raised in Harlem, New York City. She is of African-American and Afro-Trinidadian descent. Taylor is an only child on her mother's side. She grew up in a single parent environment. On her father’s side she has 2 brothers and one sister.[2] At age 4, she picked up a microphone in front of a crowd began performing. Teyana was enrolled in many different talent competitions, including the Apollo Theater National All-Stars talent search. Taylor had strong influences from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Lauryn Hill.[3] Before Taylor was officially signed she was a skateboarder and basketball player. The danger that the label saw in these activities was a huge concern which resulted in Taylor making a personal decision to give up her physical hobbies in exchange for the love of her career.[4] The first time Taylor had ever stepped into a recording studio, she was only seven. She started out singing on the train to make money in order to finance herself. It was then that she had realized that she wanted to pursue music as a career as it was something she slowly started to enjoy more. [5] She had also appeared in season 4 of MTV's hit show My Super Sweet 16.


2007–2011: Career beginnings with Interscope and Star Trak

The Harlem, New York native is a self-made all-around businesswoman who has made a name for herself in the entertainment industry. Taylor’s debut in the spotlight came about when she was featured on MTV‘s “My Super Sweet 16” in 2007.[6] Before it aired, she signed to American recording artist and super producer Pharrell Williams' Star Trak Entertainment imprint, through Interscope Records.[7][8] In late 2007, Taylor appeared in the music video for Jay-Z's single "Blue Magic", where she can be seen dancing and popping.[8]

Taylor released her commercial debut single "Google Me", in February 2008.[9] The song was released as the lead single from her debut full-length project, a mixtape titled From a Planet Called Harlem. The tape features production from Jazze Pha, Pharrell, Mad Scientist, Frost, Shondre and Hit Boy. The tape also features a mix of throwback break beats, futuristic boom bap, and melodic renderings is the perfect backdrop for the starlet's musical mayhem.[10] "Google Me" peaked at number 90 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. From a Planet Called Harlem was ultimately released on August 16, 2009, online for free download and billed as "the mixtape before the album".[11]

She was a member of a band called U.G.L.Y., along with band-mates Mijo, Braxton and Ethan. A snippet of U.G.L.Y.'s single "Wasted" was released early 2010. No further releases from the band have since been mentioned.

In 2010, Taylor ventured into acting, appearing in the sequel of Stomp the Yard, titled Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming, which was released in August.[12] She also made an appearance on the debut episode of House of Glam on Oxygen, which aired in October 2010.

In late 2010, just hours before Kanye West's fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, had be to turned in, West called Taylor to the studio to look at some fashion pieces. Taylor had struck up a friendship with West and the GOOD Music family some time before, first meeting West on his Glow in the Dark Tour, with Pharrell's band N.E.R.D. and Rihanna.[13]

While in the studio, Taylor was determined to make an appearance on West's album.[13] She purposefully hummed along with the tracks he played for her, enough to get his attention.[13] He eventually asked her to put vocals on a few tracks, notably "Dark Fantasy" and "Hell of a Life." Upon recalling the experience of recording "Dark Fantasy," Taylor stated that "at the time it was pretty empty, just verses."[13] She remembers that West "put [her] in another room by [herself] and said, 'Go'." Taylor came back with the "whole intro and chorus," and "did all the scratches and the cuts [herself] with [her] voice." She admitted that she was "nervous" upon letting West hear her contributions to the tracks, saying that "[she] hadn’t been in the studio for so long." [13]

Towards the end of 2010, Taylor contributed to one of GOOD Music's GOOD Friday tracks, entitled "Christmas In Harlem". The track was released in a shortened version to the iTunes Store on December 17, 2010, featuring American rappers Cyhi the Prynce and Kanye West.[14]

When not appearing on runways during Fashion Week Taylor is occupied using her talents for promotional use such as she did with the title track on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.[15] As an aspiring songwriter, Taylor has already worked with and written records for major artist such as Usher, Chris Brown, and Omarion. She is expected to work alongside Brandy as well in the near future.[16]

In 2010, Taylor, alongside American rapper Bow Wow, were offered roles for Tyler Perry’s play-turned-film Madea's Big Happy Family, the latest instalment in Perry's series, which was released on April 22, 2011.[17]

2012–present: GOOD Music era

In early 2012, Taylor was released from her contract with Interscope and Star Trak.[18] Taylor admits that she and Star Trak founder Pharrell Williams, have remained amiable since the formal end of their business relationship. She credits him as a "big brother" and sees her early signing to Star Trak as a "blessing."[19] Taylor has stated on many occasions, though, just how necessary her release from the label was, as well as how necessary it was for her to have a level of independence in the music industry for some time. In an interview with DJ Skee, Taylor mentioned that "when [she] was signed for six years, [she] felt like she couldn't do [anything]," and that she "couldn't prove to [her] fans that [she] had the talent" and "couldn't sing from [her] heart."[20]

As an independent artist at the time of her release, she had begun preparing her second release, a mixtape titled The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor. The tape draws notable influences from 1990s R&B legends like Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige.[21] The tape was released in the first half of 2012, and was preceded by the release of "Make Your Move (feat. Wale)"[22] and "D.U.I." (feat. Jadakiss & Fabolous), which was released on February 25, 2012. Reviews of the latter track noted that "The Harlem songstress channels Janet Jackson as she glides over the smooth Hit-Boy-produced beat with her airy vocals, while fellow New Yorkers Fabolous and Jadakiss ride shotgun".[23]

After some time as an independent artist, and taking time to find herself as an artist and represent herself correctly in an artistic way, Teyana Taylor signed a joint-venture deal with Kanye West's label GOOD Music and The Island Def Jam Music Group, on June 14, 2012.[1] Taylor had established a relationship with the whole GOOD family some time before her signing, particularly during the time she was asked to feature on Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. As part of GOOD Music, Taylor appears on the GOOD Music compilation album Cruel Summer, released September 18, 2012.[24][24] She provides vocals for the opening track "To the World," with Kanye West and R. Kelly, provides the hook and chorus for "Sin City," which also features John Legend, Cyhi the Prynce, Malik Yusef and Travis Scott, and also duets with John Legend on a song titled "Bliss."[25] Taylor and Legend's duet on the album was highly praised, Erika Ramirez of notes that "Teyana Taylor's beautifully brash voice ... illuminates in the electric-guitar heavy, Hudson Mohawke-produced 'Bliss'."[26] Trent Fitzgerald of also complimented the duet, saying that he hoped to "hear more soulful duets from [Taylor and Legend]."[27]

In addition to featuring on Cruel Summer, Taylor is currently in the process of recording her major-label debut album, to be released eventually through GOOD Music and The Island Def Jam Music Group.[28]

Business ventures

In 2013, Taylor signed a deal to design and release two pairs of sneakers with Adidas. The first pair released were the Harlem GLC's which hit stores February 16 the same year. According to Adidas Global Director of Entertainment and Influence Marketing, Jonathan Wexler, Taylor currently holds the record for fastest selling sneakers in Adidas Originals history.[29] She is currently focused on designing and releasing her second pair of sneakers with the brand.[30]



Compilation albums

List of albums, with selected chart positions, sales figures and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions
Cruel Summer (with GOOD Music) 2 1 7 4 30 10 2
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released.


List of mixtapes, with year released
Title Album details
From a Planet Called Harlem[11]
The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor[31]
  • Released: March 12, 2012
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download


As lead artist

List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"Google Me" 2008 90 From a Planet Called Harlem
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist

List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"Christmas in Harlem"
(Kanye West featuring Cyhi the Prynce and Teyana Taylor)
2010 113 103 Non-album single
(Fat Joe featuring Wiz Khalifa and Teyana Taylor)
2013 TBA
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

Guest appearances

  • "Dark Fantasy" by Kanye West
  • "Hell of a Life" by Kanye West
  • "I Need a Girl (Remix)" by Trey Songz (featuring Fabolous & Teyana Taylor)
  • "Put It On Ya" by Missy Elliott (featuring Teyana Taylor)
  • "Rock wit Me" by Jadakiss (featuring Teyana Taylor)
  • "Bottles & Rockin J's" by Game (featuring Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross, Teyana Taylor, Fabolous & Lil Wayne)
  • "24 Karats of Gold" by Big Sean (featuring J. Cole & Teyana Taylor)
  • "Never Let 'Em Stop Me" by K Smith (featuring Meek Mill & Teyana Taylor)
  • "To the World," with Kanye West and R. Kelly
  • "Sin City," with John Legend, Cyhi the Prynce, Malik Yusef, and Travis Scott
  • "Bliss," with John Legend
  • "Want You Back" by Fabolous (featuring Joe Budden & Teyana Taylor)
  • "Hold You Down" by Red Café
  • "Take My Breath Away" by Brianna Perry

Writing credits

  • "So Cold" by Chris Brown
  • "Simon Sez" by Clyde McKnight


External links

  • AllMusic
  • Teyana Taylor on MySpace Music

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