Teyana Taylor, DaniLeigh
“I can make a great sex song anytime I want, without even saying a body part, without saying anything that would be omitted on the radio. Somehow I’ve just been given that ability,”Jeremih remarks matter-of-factly, not even the hint of a mischievous grin on his face. The man knows his talent, and his calling card. And as enviable as that talent is, no man of Jeremih’s intelligence and versatility would be satisfied in a pigeonhole: “In no way do I feel that ‘Birthday Sex’ defines me as an artist, or defined my first album. People are quick to make comparisons:‘he’s the next R. Kelly, he’s the next Dream.’ That’s flattering talk but we’re all different, as people and as artists.”
Indeed, 23-year-old Jeremih Felton has planted hisown flag among the glittering banner acts at Def Jam: “I feel like I’m on thebest label I could be on; I’m not intimidated by anyone musically, and I’mhonored and inspired by the artists around me. There were a lot to choose from,a lot of labels were interested in a short period of time, but I didn’t getthis far by making bad decisions. And to be blessed with L.A. Reid’s thoughtsand even his critiques, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
So the stage is set for Jeremih’ssophomore album, All About You, dropping September 28th.The singer/ rapper/producer/multi-instrumentalist has again aligned withproducer Mick Schultz to deliver eleven songs long on sophistication, sexappeal, and even some old soul. “Mick and I have a great chemistry; we enteredthe game together, and we have albums’ worth of music,” Jeremih imparts. “Iwant him to get known too; I’m not selfish like this has to be the Jeremihshow. This album is a great showcase for his ability as well as my own. Oncepeople hear this album, others will recognize what I recognized in him andreach out for more of what we create.”
What they create is a sonic palateranging from subtle savoir-faire to unapologetic, house-shaking climax. Firstsingle “I Like,” featuring labelmate Ludacris and co-written by KeithJames, is pure babymaking bliss. Jeremih’s uncanny falsetto wends intoLudacris’ irresistible, irrepressible flow, bobbing and weaving with Schultz’sbubbly, scaled-back rhythm. Elsewhere, the titular track is a languid 4/4offset by sawing high-octave synth riffs. But Jeremih’s vocals, smacking of ayoung Michael, steal the show. Rare is a falsetto this controlled, thistextured, this evocative. Listen for it also on “Take Off,” what Jeremih termsa relationship record told from the lesser-heard male point of view: “Guys havefeelings too, guys get hurt, and this record expresses that. There’s a pointwhen we feel like we’ve done enough in trying to work this out, and now it’sbest if I take off for the both of us. I can say I been there, but I also hearthis from a lot of peers. Women can relate to it too, even if it’s not fromtheir perspective.”
“Down on Me” featuring 50 Cent is asupersmash in the waiting. 50 unleashes an insistent, machine-gun flow, whileJeremih contorts himself through some outrageous vocal acrobatics. His voice,spiced with an island cadence, bends and stretches about one of the nastiesthooks R&B has seen in quite some time. “Down on Me” is definitely a song tobe up on. “I’ve always respected 50 and always wanted to work with him,” Jeremihnotes. “I wanted to reach out to a couple artists who could bring to the tablewhat I know I do.”
Jeremih doesn’t lack forconfidence. Nor should he. A native of the unforgiving Southside Chicago ?“acity full of talent”? streets, Jeremih kept to a positive path, honing hisprodigious musical chops on saxophone, drums, and piano. He graduated highschool a year early and enrolled at the University of Illinois as a prospectiveengineering major. Bookworm by day, beatmaker by night. “I write off beats,”Jeremih reveals. “I’m a producer myself, that’s how I thought I’d initially getinto the game. After a while, I just got to writing to the beats. And at thetime, I was rapping, not singing.” Indeed, the U of I campus couldn’t holdJeremih; he transferred to Columbia College, one of Chicago’s preeminentcreative schools.
“That’s where I met Mick Schultzand started vibing with him,” he continues, “And began singing over his beats,because that’s what a lot of his stuff called for at the time. But singing andrapping both came natural; that stemmed from playing instruments growing up.Playing the piano taught me how to sing, or at least how to sound out, reach,and hold notes.”
Jeremih holds notes, and court, on AllAbout You. The album has a depth, a sense of growth, an exploratoryside. “The Five Senses” is a slow, sultry firestarter featuring Jeremih’speerless tone. Then there’s “Broken Down,” full of ominous piano chords andcadenced like a frozen moment in jazz or soul lore. And “Holding On,” thesubsequent track: “After being broken down, you gotta keep holding on,” Jeremihaffirms. “It’s about trying to see the future when you’re going throughsomething in the moment that’s getting you down. I played this for my Grandpopsand a lot of older listeners and they really responded to it. I’m proud of thissong and how far I’ve come as an artist.”
Jeremih has other reasons to be proud. Concurrent with hisalbum release, he’ll be appearing on the secondseason of BET’s popular series, Rising Icons. Icons, presented byGrey Goose vodka, pulls back the curtains and chronicles the lives of risingstars, both at home and on tour. Jeremih will share the spotlight with fastrisers such as J. Cole, Estelle, Laura Izibor, and B.O.B. Elsewhere, he’s beenhoning his pen game for other ballyhooed newcomers, including JennaAndrews, for whom he and Mick wrote “Tumblin’ Down,” her debut single on IslandRecords. “I write what I feel, and with the pitch of my voice, I can writefor a man or a woman,” he states. “My voice just has the ability to do a lot ofdifferent things.”
Speaking of different things, fans yearning for even moreJeremih can cop the Deluxe version ofAll About You, availablevia iTunes and featuring several tracks not on the physical CD. Expect also aJeremih mixtape, on which the young star does as much spitting as singing: “Irapped a little on my last album with ‘Raindrops,’ and people asked ‘Who wasthat?’ Now, I have some new stuff that I went hard on that just didn’t fit withthe theme of this album. So I’m looking forward to the mixtape to let peoplesee that side of me. A lot of singers try to do it, and it can either A) turnall your fans away like ‘You need to stick to singing, fam’ or B) get yourespect as being able to do both. I can put rhyme to a melody and have itaccepted.”
It’s been a whirlwind couple years forJeremih, first setting the Midwest ablaze with his indy anthem “My Ride,”following that up with the RIAA-certified platinum “Birthday Sex,” a nominationfor an American Music Award, and now, an imminent sophomore album. “I’ve almosttraveled the world in a year, and that’s an amazing experience. I now know whatto expect this time around. When I do shows, I perform every song off the lastalbum. People still want to hear those songs live, and those are from a yearago. So I’m excited to see the response to this material.” Jeremih recognizesthat without his dedicated fans, none of these amazing experiences would bepossible. That is why, on September 28th, he would like to tell eachand every one of them it’s “All About You”.
It’s hard to recognize the pretty 16 year-old poised in first position at the ballet barre. Her usually wild mane is pulled back into a scarf as she takes her final port de bras and retreats to the locker room with a tug of her leotard. “I’m not a girly girl,” she confesses with a shrug. “I don’t like wearing a spandex bodysuit.” When she returns, she’s rocking a fitted cap cocked over her gorgeous crop of corkscrew curls, a subtle sag in her Ice Cream jeans, and a pair of technicolor Air Force Ones. Yup, Teyana Taylor’s got her swagger back.
You may already know Pharrell’s latest protégé from her extravagant, 80’s-themed coming out party on MTV’s Sweet 16 or as the petite pop locker in Jay Z’s “Blue Magic” video, but her V.I.P. status was established even before the cameos and big name industry endorsements. Lady Beyonce herself was so impressed with the Harlem bred triple threat’s moves that she asked her to teach her the Chicken Noodle Soup — the popular dance Teyana helped innovate — for her performance at the 2007 VMA’s. “That kind of love coming from Jay and Beyonce, was crazy, recalls Teyana. “When he said, Yo, you’re a superstar. I’ll see you at the top,’ I was humbled, like wow!”
With the release of her debut album, From A Planet Called Harlem (Star Trak/Intersope), Teyana finally gets to show off her killer pipes and full-bodied flow to the rest of the universe. The album is a macrocosm of R&B, pop rock, and rap and deliciously rich with sticky hooks and campy lyrical play. “From the songs to the production — the whole direction of the album is insane,” explains the Star Trak maverick. “It’s a story about having fun.”
Of course, the stylish femcee reps NYC to the fullest but it’s her offbeat, ’afronaut’ edge that makes her such an undeniable rockstar — she’s a seamless blend of hip hop hipster and skater chick. Her hybrid musical style is as rebellious and eclectic as her personality and that’s not the result of a brilliant marketing squad. Just peep her iTunes playlist and you’ll find her rocking out to My Chemical Romance, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Lauren Hill, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.
With production from sonic architects like Jazze Pha, Pharrell, Mad Scientist, Frost, Shondre and Hit Boy, Teyana’s first solo offering has the rumblings of a party-pumping earthquake. The mix of throwback break beats, futuristic boom bap, and melodic renderings is the perfect backdrop for the starlet’s musical mayhem.
“Complicated” is a beautifully airy ballad about a crush that she’s not quite prepared to pursue. I can’t say I’m not impressed by you /I’m not ready to invest/ I can’t say I’m not the girl for you/ I just might not be her yet. She sings with the tender honesty of a young girl with strong sense of self-awareness and wisdom.
“’Color Me Pink’ is my favorite song,” she says about another coming-of-age single. “It’s about a boy who makes me want to put on a skirt or wear a tutu to ballet class. It’s something every girl can relate to.”
But From A Planet Called Harlem isn’t all flowery femme gems and soulful lullabies. On “Translation,” Teyana gets clever with her wordplay. She spits a few bars of hood patois and then translates it for her less slang-savvy fans. “Switch It Up” is another track that capitalizes on her flow. She adopts her mentor’s cocky cadence and rips the mic over an infectious go-go beat, lacing it with his familiar yezir’s. Then the sassy shopaholic goes ego-trippin on “Traffic Stop,” a head bopping jam that will have everyone singing “Sittin’ at a bus stop/ Suckin’ on a lollipop/ In my Ice Cream top/ I can make the Traffic Stop”.
“The first time I stepped into a booth I was seven,” says Teyana. “I started singing on the train to make money, just hustling. No matter how much money I get, I still gotta grind. I still gotta work hard to get where I want to be.”
While the average 16-year-old’s burning ambition is passing their road test, Teyana is busy pursuing loftier goals. For now, the industry ingénue would rather focus on kicking her career into overdrive.
When the end of Summer hits, the desire to rewind time kicks in, reliving every magical moment from the season’s past. It’s a vibe that newcomer DaniLeigh has managed to encapsulate in her debut EP Summer With Friends, coming soon. The 22-year-old singing and dancing phenomenon cut her teeth in the business when she directed a music video for her late mentor, Prince. She enhanced her buzz with back-to-back jams “Play” (featuring Kap G) and “Lurkin’”, and is here to continue her mission of making music that both sounds and feels good.
After learning of DaniLeigh’s talents as a dancer (through a one-minute video clip), the Purple One reached out to have her direct his video for “Breakfast Can Wait” at just 18 years old. The video hit worldwide, appearing on networks like MTV, BET, and REVOLT. Prince ultimately took DaniLeigh under his wing, mentoring her budding singing career. His untimely death in 2016 left a void in DaniLeigh’s life, though his presence is still felt as DaniLeigh’s star is only getting brighter.
“Play” truly kicked things off. The high-energy single is described by DaniLeigh as an empowering anthem for women. “It’s a bold statement,” she says of the cut, which carries a message of “making a play” in all areas of life. “I’m a very positive person and this song I feel can help motivate people to put in that work,” she says. Bringing Kap G (who is of Mexican descent) into the fold as a feature was her way of uniting more Latinos in music, as DaniLeigh’s Dominican heritage is evident in both her style and sound. The single “Lurkin’” immediately followed, as a slick nod to social those stalkers who don’t congratulate moves, yet look on from the social media sidelines. The song even made its way to the HBO hit series Insecure. The stage is now set for DaniLeigh to show the diverse angles of her talent on a grander scale.
Aptly titled Summer With Friends, the upcoming EP sums up DaniLeigh’s past few months, which she lightheartedly describes as “just having fun and working.” The relatable nature of the project brings forth the aforementioned singles, along with feel good songs that channel the young artist’s inspirations including Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, and Drake while showing her ability to fuse hip-hop and R&B with poppier electronic-driven vibes. Songs like “Questions” playfully target those relationship interrogation sessions (Where were you? Who were you with?), while “Ex” is a self-explanatory track about the now-single artist’s previous romance. “He got one song,” she jokes. Other cuts like the infectious “On” and “All I Know” show DaniLeigh’s versatility within the pop-urban landscape, while “All Day” highlights her Dominican roots. “That’s a bachata beat underneath [the production],” she proudly points out. “The time right now is in alignment, showing that things are going the right way.” As DaniLeigh unveils her debut Summer With Friends and the projects that follow, she maintains her goal of positive music, though has one wish involving one important angel by her side. “I always say I wish Prince was here to see all of this happening with me right now,” she says. “It’s okay though. I know he’s watching.”