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Here's 7 Ways Teyana Taylor Has Changed The Game In Music & Beyond

We accept her announcement, but we're also celebrating how sis changed the landscape of music.

Culture & Entertainment

Over the weekend, I, like so many of us, was crushed to learn that Teyana Taylor had decided to hang up her shoes in music, and retire from music. Naturally, my wig was blown back, as both me, and the entire culture screamed, "Nooooo, Petunia!" Even some of our faves, like Cardi B, came to her defense, with a tweet that we all felt. Publications like Vulture, wrote:

"In what is officially the most upsetting Spotify Wrapped social-media post of the year, Teyana Taylor has announced that, due in part to being unappreciated in the music industry, she is 'retiring' from her career as a motherfucking international sensation."

After the chaos, Teyana eventually went on her Instagram Live to explain her retirement decision, clarifying that it had very little to do winning Grammy Awards or other accolades, but more so the lack of appreciation felt on her part by her record label. She even went on to disclose that it was a mental health decision for herself and for being around for her kids, which we all know that mental health is huge around here at the xoNecole offices.

Reluctantly, we decided to accept her announcement, but at the same time, celebrate by compiling a list of the times that our favorite sis snatched our wigs and changed the landscape of music and more.

Here's 7 ways Teyana Taylor has changed the game in music and beyond:

Since the age of 16, Teyana has made herself visible in the industry.

Teyana stepped on the scene at the age of 15, as a young artist signed to Pharrell Williams' label, Star Trek. From this moment on, she has gone on to be one of the most recognizable faces in the industry, as she has made herself visible in music, fashion, art, and more. Beginning on MTV's Super Sweet 16, to Ne-Yo's "She Got Her Own", to partnerships with Adidas, to Kanye West's infamous "Fade" music video, and much more, Teyana has shown how multifaceted she could be, and that we really don't think on the innovative level that she has since a young age.

Her performances are un-fcking-matched.

Giphy

OK, so we all know that if Tey is attached to a performance, you better tune in. She's going to give you everything you need to enjoy yourself. And because we can name more than three times that we know she has killed the stage (mine are Lil Kim Tribute, Janet Jackson Tribute, and Phillip Plein's fashion show to Future's "Mask Off"). Make no mistake, sis will eat up all you thought a performance should be, and spare no expense.

She brings her life, family, and personality into her projects.

Tey is notorious for bringing her family along with her to her shoots, or any other ventures on her plate. Her husband, Iman Shumpert, and baby girl, Junie, are never too far behind as she balances her many projects. And in her latest music video, "Wake Up Love", she was able to include her entire family and latest pregnancy to daughter, Rue Rose, along too.

Teyana has the respect and admiration from industry peers like Marvin Sapp to Elton John to Erykah Badu.

Some of Teyana's biggest fans are her industry peers, who revere her as one of the best to do it. Sis is able to get many to do what they won't do for many, whether it's Queen Badu serving as her doula and delivering her second child, or Elton John making an appearance in a music video. Taylor is one of the most respected women in music, even if there's no music attached.

Teyana's 'The Album' reached #1 on the Billboard R&B Album Charts, as well as won her awards for Best Director at 2020 BET Awards.

After its release, The Album went on to peak at number one on Billboard's R&B charts, the first in her career. Pitchfork labeled her album as "regaining control of her art across a long and complex album, one that deftly recontextualizes classic R&B and better represents the fierce persona she has honed in public." Soon after, Taylor went on to win Best Director at the 2020 BET Awards, under popular moniker, 'Spike Tey', who has also directed music videos from the KTSE album, as well as other upcoming projects yet to be released.

She unapologetically stands up for herself and other women.

After a rough start to a 2018 Later That Night tour with singer Jeremih and Danileigh, Teyana quit the later canceled tour and decided to go out on her own, rebranding it as KTSE Tour. Taylor told the ladies at The Real:

"He did little to none, any promo, so it was just like, when we got there and the concerts were sold out and different things like that—when we got there, everything was Jeremiah, his name was on everything, like, my name wasn't even on the ticket."

Most impressively, Taylor then decided to bring Danileigh along with her on the rebranded tour, with amenities and perks that she felt they each were robbed of in the previous.

Queen.

And despite it all, Teyana Taylor has managed to amass 162M Spotify streams in 2020 alone.

In her retirement announcement, Teyana posted a screenshot of her Spotify artist streams, which showed her monumental 2020 accolades to close out the year. She may not feel appreciated, but Teyana is one of the only artists in history to have the resume and relationships she has, with little to no push from her record label.

We know she is nowhere near to being done on her journey, and we can't wait to see what she does next. But in the meantime, Alexa, play "Gonna Love Me".

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image by Arturo Holmes / Shutterstock.com

Mental health awareness is at an all-time high with many of us seeking self-improvement and healing with the support of therapists. Tucked away in cozy offices, or in the comfort of our own homes, millions of women receive the tools needed to navigate our emotions, relate to those around us, or simply exist in a judgment-free space.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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