What better place to premiere a music video than the Video Music Awards? What other night is solely dedicated to the appreciation of the visual artform? All eyes were on MTV last evening for the VMA’s, by far the biggest stage for music videos, making it the perfect place to premiere a brand new music video. And that’s what Kanye West did last night. MTV also granted West four unscripted minutes to say whatever his lizard brain desired, and somehow the king of rants didn’t burn down the building or the internet. I barely recall what was said, his words were completely overshadowed by the world premiere of “Fade” and Teyana Taylor - the true champion of the VMAs.
Teyana Taylor is front and center, alone in a gym. Even though this is Kanye's video, it what makes perfect sense that she's alone - Teyana is absolutely transfixing. Only the ghost of Harambe could inspire eyes to wonder, and even that is a stretch. Wearing a revealing top and a thong, Teyana is the embodiment of the T-Pain lyric, “She has the body of a Goddess.” Astounding to think she had a baby not long ago, in "Fade" Teyana is a moving Greek sculpture of toned perfection. Despite being rather sensual, to stare at her and only think sex would be shortsighted - there’s a sense of admiration that washes over you as she dances. She’s raw passion in motion, the personification of hardwork and dedication. She doesn’t miss a single beat, it looks effortless as she combines dance styles - weaving together voguing, hip-hop, popping, dancehall, and more into this cornucopia of dance culture. Teyana’s stunning, absolutely stunning. “Fade” will never sound the same again.
During my first viewing, I immediately thought of Rosie Perez in the opening scenes of Do The Right Thing. 27 years ago Rosie awed the world as she danced to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” at the very beginning of Spike’s first and now iconic movie. For three minutes Rosie is just like Teyana - explosive, vigorous, and fervent. Even though it’s not a music video, “Fight The Power” in the backdrop just compliments her every move - especially once the boxing gloves and shorts appear as her wardrobe changes. Rosie gave “Fight The Power” a woman’s touch in a way Public Enemy never could. “Fade” is the same - Kanye and Ty$ couldn’t add anything with their presence, they would dim the song’s glow compared to Teyana’s blaring light. Both women showcase the power of dance in music as a union, a beautiful marriage.
Flashdance is another movie that comes to mind while watching Teyana. The 1983 classic is already being linked to “Fade” as a source of inspiration. What I find interesting about the film is the link to MTV - music television was just beginning to shape a generation and Flashdance brought a look, a sound, a style that represented the 80’s to the big screen. Jennifer Beals character Alex Owens became a staple figure in dance, while making the music she danced to even more iconic - Michael Sembello’s “Maniac,” Shandi’s “He’s A Dream,” Irene Cara’s “What A Feeling,” and Kim Carnes “I’ll Be There Where The Heart Is” are songs that are connected to the story of Alex and Flashdance.
I found a quote that hailed the movie as, “The moment that fashion, music, and dance collided into a single image,” and it perfectly sums up Teyana Taylor’s artistry. For over a decade she has bridged together the three creative mediums, “Fade” only represents her prowess on her biggest platform yet. I won’t say that “Fade” in 2016 will do what Flashdance did in 1983, but there’s a chance it can spark something in this post-MTV Generation.
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Fader recently spoke with Jae Blaze, a well-known and well-respected choreographer who worked with Teyana Taylor on “Fade.” She talks about how she became apart of the project, the importance of dancehall, and if Flashdance was a point of reference for the video. She doesn’t know, but she completely understands why viewers will make the connection. She also adds a bit of clarity to why Teyana looks like a lioness at the end of the video, representing how Teyana’s transformation relates to her fierceness.
One of the most talked about scenes is Teyana and her husband, Iman Shumpert, in a steamy shower. Lil Dicky’s Trojan commercial is the only appropriate ad to play afterwards. The scene that comes after is Teyana as a lioness, surrounded by her husband, daughter, and a flock of sheep. I see that as a metaphor for the saying, “A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of a sheep” - in the internet age she could receive a lot of flack for appearing in the music video, especially for the shower scene. If criticism comes, I believe that final scene represents how little she cares about outside opinions. She has her husband, she has her child, she’s a fierce lioness and that’s what matters. Or Kanye just wanted to make her look like a cat, the world may never know?
Teyana is much more than “Fade,” she’s an artist, and I hope that this video will open up eyes to all that she has done and all that she will do. It’s an incredible look for the young woman who some of us have watched since she appeared on MTV’s Sweet 16. She’s only 25-years-old, the music industry could easily become her oyster. Next year she’ll be at the VMA’s accepting an award and not appearing in a video. Consider this the beginning of her second coming: the resurgence of Teyana Taylor.
By Yoh, aka Yoh3000, aka @Yoh31.
Photo Credit: TIDAL