Teyana Taylor: Star Trakkie

Strange, eccentric, odd- a few words some may associate with Star Trak’s teen sensation, Teyana Taylor. As for her, she prefers “bold, creative and different.” The world got their first taste of the 16-year old Harlem globetrotter when MTV featured her on it’s widely popular reality show, My Super Sweet Sixteen. While for some that […]

Strange, eccentric, odd- a few words some may associate with Star Trak’s teen sensation, Teyana Taylor. As for her, she prefers “bold, creative and different.” The world got their first taste of the 16-year old Harlem globetrotter when MTV featured her on it’s widely popular reality show, My Super Sweet Sixteen. While for some that lifestyle- one of real-life Barbies, Range Rovers and chromed out bicycles- may seem “strange, eccentric and odd,” it’s just another day in the life of Hip-Hop’s new tween queen.Fast forward a year later and Taylor’s success story already supersedes most of her peers. From being a peculiar, young skater girl who had a flare for performing, to choreographing for Beyonce and releasing her debut album under one of the biggest names in the music industry, Taylor shares with AllHipHop.com Alternatives her view from the top. And though she’s reluctant to claim her celebrity status just yet, a co-sign from Jigga and Pharrell suggests nothing but the pinnacle of success for Harlem’s golden girl.AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Hey there.Teyana Taylor: Hi. How are you?AHHA: I’m well. You sound a little tired.Teyana Taylor: Nah. I’m in the bathroom getting dolled up so I can get ready to go to ballet.AHHA: You have to get dolled up for ballet?Teyana Taylor: ‘Cause I gotta go to ballet, but you know, I gotta go outside and interact with people. So I’m not really getting dolled up for ballet, but afterwards I’ll be outside and stuff.AHHA: It’s been a year now since your infamous Sweet Sixteen party. Do people still come up to you talking about it?Teyana Taylor: Yeah, they do. That’s another reason I have to be dolled up. [laughs]AHHA: I heard they followed you around for over a month…what was that like?Teyana Taylor: It was crazy. It was fun in the beginning, you know like, “Oh my God!  The cameras are following me around.” Then it got tiring and they kept telling me to do stuff. Man!AHHA: The music industry and the entire Hip-Hop culture are so centered on socialization-partying and such. As a teenager, is the party scene different for you?Teyana Taylor: I be gettin’ into some of the clubs. It be fun. It’s cute. It’s real cute. But I like partying with my friends my age, so I don’t really do the clubs. AHHA: If you weren’t at an industry event hanging with the “cool kids,” what would you and your entourage back home be doing for fun?Teyana Taylor: Watching Jimmy Neutron, joking on each other, riding our skateboards; you know, everything else that a regular kid would do. So it’s cool. AHHA: You’re signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak label. Tell me how that all came about?Teyana Taylor: This A&R, or whatever, he told his boss Kevin Law, who is the Vice-President of the A&R Department at Universal [Records], about me. So I met with him and he asked me, “If you could name five people you would want to work with, who would you want to work with?” And the first three names were Pharrell. He was like, “Wow, really? Me and Pharrell have been friends for a really long time.” So I was like, “Okay that’s what’s up.” And it was crazy, ‘cause the very next day he called me back and told me I had a meeting with Pharrell that Thursday. I was ecstatic. It was like, “Oh my God!”AHHA: Is it absolutely amazing working with Pharrell and Chad, even after developing such a close relationship with Pharrell?Teyana Taylor: They’re like brothers to me. At the end of the day, he’s always going to be my idol. I still look at him like, “Oh my God! I’m working with Pharrell,” you know? It’s always gonna be that no matter what. AHHA: The album, tell me a few of your favorite tracks and why.Teyana Taylor: Top three favorite songs… That’s a good question, ‘cause I be in my room having my little fake concerts all the time. I like “Color Me Pink,” because me being the whole tomboy, skater girl, the songs shows a different side of me. It’s about how this boy makes me want to dress more like a lady. Another song that I like is “Young Girl.” I like “Young Girl” because it’s about the things young girls go through, like having babies, doing stuff they don’t want to do, and stuff like that is really important to me. It’s a really deep song. And I like “Translation.” In the beginning we are talking in our little Harlem slang, and when the background voice says “translation,” we break it down for everybody that’s not from my hood or doesn’t understand how we talk.AHHA: Okay. I see we have some swagger on the album.Teyana Taylor: Yes. Definitely some swagger on the album. [laughs]AHHA: You do all kinds of music, from Hip-Hop to Pop and R&B. Do you intend to master and focus on one genre at a time, or will you give listeners the many facets of you all at once?Teyana Taylor: It’s going to be everything. I’m trying to do it all and do somethin’ that’s never been done before. I want this project to be that, you know?AHHA: Cool. Pharrell played a large hand in the career of another eccentric young woman from Harlem, Kelis. Over time, her originality faded a bit to become more mainstream. I know it’s early, but have you thought of the sacrifices that come at the cost of being an individual in this industry?Teyana Taylor: Right. I think about stuff like that all the time, especially since I’m young.  I’m always like, “Oh my God! Will they like me?” That’s gonna go through every teenager’s head, especially when you’re a new artist and nobody knows you. It’s pretty hard. Maybe an adult can take it better than a teen but…AHHA: So are we sticking with our originality or folding under pressure?Teyana Taylor: Definitely sticking with originality. I can’t… I won’t allow anyone to change me into something that I’m not. I’m an individual and that’s what I’m trying to teach all [my peers’] acceptance. That it’s okay to be different and to be an individual.AHHA: While we’re on the topic of your individuality, talk to me about the skate culture.  People rarely see young, Black skater girls. How did you get submerged into the culture?Teyana Taylor:  Every since I was little I was always different. I was into rock music; just always different in some kind of way. And when I got in school I didn’t have many friends, so all I had was my skateboard. You know, my skateboard got me places. It was like a best friend thing between me and my skateboard. I was an only child, so my skateboard was my brother. It was my every thing. So I just started doing it.AHHA: Why not a bike? [laughs]Teyana Taylor: I don’t know. [laughs] That’s what everybody was doing, especially in Harlem. It was kind of like love at first sight. My mom actually bought me my first skateboard. My friends and I were just crazy with it, with the cargo shorts and the DC [shoes] and the SB [Dunks], and my mom just came in the house with the skateboard. Every since then, I just started riding a skateboard hard body. AHHA: I’m deathly afraid of those things. Maybe you could teach me to skate next time I’m in Harlem.Teyana Taylor: Yeah, definitely.  It doesn’t take long to learn, especially if you have a good teacher. I’ve taught a bunch of little boys in my neighborhood to skate; which is cool ‘cause instead of them fightin’ and running around getting in trouble, they’re doing something positive. AHHA:  Good deal. How has growing up in Harlem and being a skater affected your sense of style?Teyana Taylor: Harlem is already flashy. How I think about it is the same way someone can spend 300 or 400 dollars on a pair of Gucci [shoes] is the same way I can spend 300 or 400 dollars on a pair of Dunks. Just because it ain’t a sneaker with a whole bunch of G’s on it doesn’t mean that it don’t cost money, you feel me? I can be flashy and still be different. ‘Cause I’m paying just as money as you’re paying for your clothes, so there’s nothing you can really say to me. People are startin’ to like it though. You know, people in Harlem are really on the high top Dunks with the slim jeans. It’s a pretty cool trend. AHHA: Tell me, if you were going to a graduation party for one of your friends, what would you wear? Then tell me what you’d wear if you were invited to one of Diddy’s all white parties?Teyana Taylor: That’s when I turn to my mother, ‘cause she got all the styles. [laughs] She knows what she’s doin’, so she’s the first person I turn to know what’s crazy about her is that she’s the type of person, if you gotta go out somewhere, she’ll go all out. She goes out so hard, no matter whose graduation it is, no matter whose party it is. She goes in, and I love her for that. Like, it could be someone’s Sweet Sixteen and you would think it was mine cause she be havin’ me lookin’ good money. AHHA: Have you thought about starting your own clothing line?Teyana Taylor: Yeah, I definitely wanted to start a T-shirt line, skateboards and some sneakers too. I’m trying to do it all.AHHA: Hell, you might as well open a store.Teyana Taylor: Basically, that’s what I’m thinkin’ about. That’s what I want to do.  I know it’s hard work.AHHA: You sing, rap and dance. Often times when people try to do all three on stage, one talent seems to be lacking. Have you been working on your stage performance much?Teyana Taylor: Oh I already told you! I be out in my living room. You know how you have those big screen TVs where you can see your whole body in the TV. So I perform.  I put on my CD with the tracks to my songs and I be ready to go. It just be dumb funny because I really be goin’ in like it’s a real concert, like “DC, I love you! New York, I love you!” [laughs] I sit down on my couch and pretend I’m on 106 & Park. AHHA: [laughs] Well it seems to be paying off. You were in Jay-Z’s video for “Blue Magic.” How did that come about?  Was it a huge co-sign from Pharrell, or was it based on your own relationship with Jigga Man?Teyana Taylor: I was like really, really really excited. My A&R had called me like, “Alright, I need you to bring four girls with you.” I’m like, “Okay, cool.” I’m thinking that I’m going to show something to someone or something, but when I got there I met Jay-Z.AHHA: You’ve done some choreography for Beyonce, but was that your first time meeting him?Teyana Taylor: Yeah. I had never met him. I’ve seen him, but I had never met him and talked to him. It was amazing. I was going crazy on the inside, but I had my game face on, on the outside. And when we talked he told me, “I specially requested you, so I need you to bring your swag.” ‘Cause Beyonce had told him about me. He was like, “Yeah, Beyonce kept telling me ‘she’s a superstar.’” And Beyonce was like, “Yeah, I was telling you…”  So I was just so honored and really just like, “Wow.” I mean, this is coming out of [Jay-Z’s] mouth. It really meant a lot to me. I mean, this is Jay-Z we’re talking about. It was crazy.AHHA: That’s hot. So if you could collaborate with anyone from any genre to create your perception of a hot record, who would it be?Teyana Taylor: I would love to collaborate with Lauryn Hill. Yo! I would start crying if I could collaborate with KRS-One, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill. Definitely KRS-One though.AHHA: Girl, you’re 16. What do you know about KRS-One?Teyana Taylor: I love KRS-One. I think a collaboration with him would be so dope. Like, even though I’m young, it’s like I’m promotin’ the same stuff he’s promotin’, you know? So he’s kind of like an idol to me. I really appreciate the things he talks about.AHHA: With a spectacular Sweet Sixteen, a record in the making, Pharrell and Jay-Z in your corner and fans around the globe, do you feel like a celebrity yet?Teyana Taylor: Not yet. I want to start sellin’ some albums first. Let’s see how them albums go, and then we’ll see about that celebrity status. I’m just hype to see what’s going to happen, you know? AHHA: Well are you ready to go out into the world now?Teyana Taylor: Yeah, I’m definitely ready-AHHA: I mean are you finished getting ready in the bathroom. [laughs]Teyana Taylor: Oh, I’m almost there. Just gotta put on some lip gloss. [laughs]

Check Out Teyana Taylor in Jay-Z’s “Blue Magic”