Teyana Taylor: G.O.O.D. Girl, Urban Chic

Teyana TaylorIt’s fair to say this straight-shooter has had a passion for fashion since her diaper days. As a too-grown toddler, Teyana’s mom made her daughter a living Barbie doll, dressing her in designer labels and honing the spunky kid’s instinctual knack for motorcycle jackets and all black everything. Once the bouncy youngin’ from Planet Harlem hit primary school age, she tapped into what she dubs a Rick Owens kind of style. “I have this thing where I like mixing high fashion with Jordans and making it work. I love Alexander Wang, Derrick Lamb, Versace, Margiela. I can go on and on. Givenchy and Rick Owens are some of my favorite lines because you can give it that street wear edge.”

As someone who has witnessed the youngest G.O.O.D. artist’s growth in music and style, Pusha T defines her look as ‘effortless couture,’ a high end-meets-urban look that comes second nature. “Teyana is a natural around-the-way girl. When I look at her, that’s what I see. I don’t know anybody who’s stepping in that lane; everybody else is put together. She comes to you fly. When we were getting off the plane in Qatar, [she wore] fitteds and Celine bags. It’s a lifestyle; it’s how she wears it. She wears it like I wear my sweats and sweatshirts.”

Even as fluid as her affair with fashion has been, her music solstice has yet to peak. When the sassy NYC native first bum rushed record labels’ radars under Pharrell’s other-worldly Star Trak/Interscope label in 2006, it was apparent that the hip-hop genre had a boy-meets-girl chick on its hands. Her breakout cut “Google Me” generated some Gen-Y love but the hardworking signee was missing her mark. Though her music didn’t initially soar, her striking style widely held eyes captive. “I was 16; I was dressed my age. I had my Jordans, my fitteds, my snapbacks. I was typecast for being age-appropriate. Once I got older and matured more, it was still a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation. When I was dressed in my streetwear, I was gay. Then, I do one shoot, show some skin and now I’m not a virgin. I can’t win for losing.”

Amidst being bashed for having what was seen as a male-dominated sartorial taste, Taylor was in a less-than-ideal label situation, at no fault of the N.E.R.D. frontman. “I never really put any pressure on Pharrell about the situation. I didn’t really have time to focus on who was wrong or who was right or where things went wrong because I was always working.”

While waiting in the rafters of her Interscope deal, Teyana strategically secured three vocal placements on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on a L.A. studio session whim. Ever the approval-seeking narcissist, Yeezy asked Teyana to listen to his album. While there, she capitalized on being in the presence of what would become one of his greatest works. “I hadn’t been in the booth in so long. They had to drag me out,” she laughs. Luckily, her in with Yeezy & Co. provided her a new outlook on her music career beyond Interscope. In January 2012, she announced the official and amicable split from Star Trak. “Pharrell is very supportive and he’s very happy for me. I respect him for that.”