Fun fact: We still haven’t gotten used to the idea of Teyana Taylor being grown.
Yes, we know she’s a 27-year-old wife and mother to toddler Iman Tayla (aka “Junie”). And of course we also vividly remember feeling sick with envy over her sleek and slicked-up post-baby body (and ridiculously sexy dance moves) in the 2016 video for Kanye West’s “Fade.” (And yeah, we may or may not be on the Fade2Fit mailing list—though we’ve yet to activate our membership.)
But somewhere in the backs of our minds, it’s still 2009, and Taylor is making her ’80s-themed My Super Sweet 16 entrance as a skateboarding-obsessed B-girl Barbie in custom Heatherette and Nikes, complete with her own life-sized box. Perhaps that’s why we’re low-key excited to see her re-enter the music scene with a new, long-overdue and, as yet, untitled album, due out Friday.
The album will be Taylor’s first in four years, and her first on Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, executive-produced by the man himself, as the last of his series of seven-song releases. Taylor isn’t immune to nerves about the album, even temporarily deleting her Instagram in order to focus, as she explained to style site Coveteur over Popeyes fried chicken and peach Cîroc gimlets (Taylor is the face of the new flavor) at her Harlem-based nail salon, Junie Bee Nails:
I deleted my Instagram because [my label was] pretty much telling me to fall back on posting snippets [of my album]. I was like, “Look, the only way that’s going to happen is if I delete my account.” I understand that it’s only seven songs, so if I keep posting, then the album will be out before it’s out. Most importantly, though, I wanted to really lock in. Instagram can be a distraction.
After seeing all the positive feedback and all the love [the album] was getting, it kind of made me more nervous, because now this shit really gotta be lit. It is lit, but there are people who put you on a pedestal, and I have to live up to that. It was really time to get focused—I really want to take this time to make sure this album is perfect. I owe it to them, you know what I’m saying? It was more about taking that break, focusing on what’s important, and coming back when it’s time for this album to drop. ...
To have an album that’s coming out that everyone knows about it, and it’s getting the proper promotion that it needs, the proper rollout that it needs, and the press—just the appreciation that it deserves—will make you start overthinking. It’s just like, “Calm your ass down, Teyana. Damn.” I still have to be a mom, I still have to be a wife. I can’t be caught up in reading comments.
And there has not been one bad comment, which is crazy because we complain when we see bad comments, but sometimes when it’s too good, it’s like, hold on; wait. So nobody is going to say everything bad? So that means everything needs to sound like this. Definitely not complaining, but it’s just a lot of pressure.
Not that Taylor hasn’t already had plenty on her plate. In addition to motherhood, marriage, a new album and taping the first season of VH1’s Teyana & Iman with hubby Iman Shumpert and baby Iman in February, Taylor, an ambassador for nail polish brand OPI, returned to her hometown of Harlem to open Junie Bee Nail. She named the ’90s-themed nail salon for her daughter.
The salon features an “around-the-way girl” vibe, “taking it all the way back to the airbrush ... retro nails, new nails, gel, natural, acrylic, all that, anything you want,” as Taylor told Vogue.com. Graffiti adorns the walls, uniforms were designed by Harlem legend-turned-Gucci collaborator Dapper Dan, and a full subway car resides on the premises.
“I always wanted to open up a nail salon in Harlem, mainly to spread more opportunity in my community,” Taylor told Vogue. “[B]ecause there are so many young girls out here who are so talented but their work is not being seen, or they’re being distracted by other things. ... I was a diamond in the rough, just like the girls at Junie Bee.”
But regardless of what project she might be focusing on at the moment, Taylor told Coveteur that she prioritizes happiness above all else:
Happiness means everything. It’s crazy because people’s happiness sometimes will make other people cringe. Having a positive energy [and a] positive spirit is the most important thing. Not letting people bring you down and not letting miserable people make you miserable with them—you stay happy. Happiness is very, very important to me because if you’re not happy, then why do it? Whether it’s business, relationships, friendships, whatever it is. Live life like it’s golden.