In 1959, Mattel, Inc. launched Barbie, a doll that was marketed as the â€œteenage fashion doll.â€ She wore a black and white striped swimsuit, with open toe sandals and had the face of a goddess. Itâ€™s 2008 and Barbie is 49-years-old and thereâ€™s a new teenage super-star- Teyana Taylor. This doll can sing, rap and teach Beyonce how to do the Chicken Noodle Soup.
With the face of a goddess, big jet-black curly hair, Ice Cream sneakers and a similar physique to Barbie, 17-year-old Teyana Taylor is dropping her debut album From a Planet called Harlem (Star Trak/ Interscope) this upcoming May. With noticeable style and flair, the â€œTeenage Presidentâ€ is becoming the walking â€œpaper dollâ€ for urban fashionistas across the globe. If youâ€™re not sold on the Harlem nativeâ€™s single â€œGoogle Meâ€ find her on the side of megastar Pharrell Williams, in Jay Zâ€™s â€œBlue Magicâ€ video, or on MTVâ€™s My Super Sweet 16. As a matter of fact, catch her here at Format.
“School comes before anything- no matter what the job is, I make sure I get my work done for my classes”
Format: Youâ€™re still under the age of 18, yet youâ€™ve done worked with Jay-Z, Beyonce and N.E.R.D. How is it going to school by day and being amongst superstars at night?
Teyana: Itâ€™s all about priorities and taking things serious. School comes before anything- no matter what the job is, I make sure I get my work done for my classes. Itâ€™s like a dream to me. Iâ€™m home schooled, so I have a tutor, but itâ€™s always going to be a dream to me. No matter how successful I become, itâ€™s always going to be a dream come true and an honor to work with these people.
Format: MTVâ€™s My Super Sweet 16 was your breakthrough into mass media and exposure. In retrospect do you think the show has helped your career or given you a stigma as the â€œ16-year-old girl with the big hair?â€
Teyana: Itâ€™s definitely helped me and it gives people a sense of my style and personality and what Iâ€™m about. Iâ€™m kind of glad that I havenâ€™t gotten stuck in that My Super Sweet 16 box and people are taking me seriously as an artist.
Format: Youâ€™re label mates with musicians Chester French, Kenna, N.E.R.D. and Snoop Dogg. What do you think you bring to Star Trak Entertainment?
Teyana: That Harlem swag.
Format: Describe that â€œHarlem swagâ€ for people who have never been to Harlem.
Teyana: Harlem is pretty much something you have to see. Harlem is its own planet. The way that people eat, walk, talk, itâ€™s the first place that people see when they get to New York. Itâ€™s amazing.
Format: You have a lot of similarities with singer/songwriter Kelis, who was once signed to Star Trak. Being that youâ€™re a female from Harlem with big hair and an edgy style, what else do you think it is about you two that make you two qualified to be in the mist of such a talented label?
Teyana: I think itâ€™s great, crazy and weird. Itâ€™s funny because sheâ€™s from Harlem as well and we both got signed to Star Trak [laughs]. Youâ€™re right. The only thing it proves is that the world is so small. I think that sheâ€™s pretty great and the idea of it is great.
Format: Speaking of Harlem, the neighborhoods are changing. I was on 143rd and Lennox one day and I saw you with your friends, chillinâ€™ on the streets. What about you symbolizes what Harlem used to be?
Teyana: I never forgot where I came from and when people recognize that, they respect it. People respect it and they appreciate it. It also goes to show how honorable someone is. I love going back to the old hood, because it reminds me of the days when Big L, Ma$e and all of them use to be out on the block chillinâ€™. I think thatâ€™s cool.
Format: On your Myspace page it shows your influences are Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill-
Teyana: And KRS-One
Format: And KRS-One, dope. If you can pick one trait from each one of those artists that you possess, what would they be?
Teyana: Definitely with Lauryn Hill, I would have to say the fact that sheâ€™s singing and rapping and she has such a great voice. The same thing with KRS-One, everything that he says is amazing. His lyrics are amazing. Stevie Wonder and his incredible voice and his incredible talent and his songwriting skills were so beautiful. With Michael Jackson, him being an entertainer and being the best at what he does, as a singer and an overall entertainer.
Format: What genre of music do you fit in?
Teyana: I wouldnâ€™t say that Iâ€™m not in one set genre. I try to switch lanes and not stay in the same boat. I think thatâ€™s pretty cool.
Format: Your first love was dance. What made you make the transition into singing?
Teyana: Iâ€™ve always been singing, dancing and rapping since I was younger. In Harlem, I was known but I hadnâ€™t really sung for anyone else really. One day I just started to make things happen, hard body. You know? I love music.
Format: Being that you are still underage, are theyâ€™re any pressures being a â€œtomboyâ€ and making the transition into womanhood?
Teyana: I try not to let think about it until it actually happens. Iâ€™m still young and Iâ€™m still doing me. You know? As I grow Iâ€™ll have other opportunities. Iâ€™ll mature and Iâ€™ll grow and the more I, the more Iâ€™ll become a young lady. I think thatâ€™s something special.
Format: From a Planet Called Harlem is the name of the new album, what can we expect on the album?
Teyana: Everything you want to hear [laughing], seriously. Everything from girl empowerment to individuality, anything that everybody can relate to is on this album.
Format: Would you say that you make music for all ages are specifically for young people?
Teyana: This is young people music because I am the Teen President but in the end, it reaches out to people of different cultures, backgrounds and ages. This music is for everybody from the mothers all the way down to the young men.
Format: At the end of the day, what does Teyana Taylor represent?
Teyana: Itâ€™s only right that the Teen President would represent for the teens. Teyana Taylor represents girl empowerment and individuality.