“3Way,” much to my chagrin, dominated the conversations during Teyana Taylor’s Keep That Same Energy press run. Though Taylor’s corrective campaign aimed at listeners who lessened the song to a desperate attempt at keeping her husband was right up my sex-positive alley, I found the repetitive discussions trite and lacking that je ne sais qua appeal that the quadruple threat typically brings to her artistic assignments.

Full disclosure, I had every intent on boycotting the album, as it was a part of the Wisconsin project directed by the one we don’t speak of. I allowed my disgust for the sunken place inhabitant to feed my most shameful impulse. Being a hater is already sinful, but hating a black woman is sacrilege. I think of it as a pit lodged in my throat, pulling in murky phlegm to form its white-hot pulp. That bulb of toxicity infects the black woman’s tongue, dismantles the desire for solidarity, and becomes the self-harming nexus of misogynoir. This led me to take pleasure in some of the scathing critiques KTSE received from cynics and to find a considerable amount of enjoyment in the negative reviews from underwhelmed fans. 

I say all of this to say that I am aware of my bias and I like to think that I have been critical of my criticisms towards the album. In doing so, I stumbled upon my main issue with “3Way.” It lacks the erotic “oomph” that one expects to hear in a song exploring the complex subject of the ménage a trois. I wanted an image-rich song and Taylor’s lyrics don’t really create a scene for the listener. Also, I want to know what physical effects the threesome has on her body. Instead of describing how this act will please the male partner, show me your pleasure Teyana. The song carries so much potential for erotic energy, but it doesn’t deliver in that regard.

Now all of this may be true, but why couldn’t I just catalog this erotic deficiency as a missed opportunity and move on? I have a full-time job and unrealized dreams that require my attention. Insecure is back on and I’m tryna see Issa navigate this Daniel situation. We are certainly not experiencing a drought in celebrity news. The Petunia herself had a recent public dispute with singer Jeremih regarding the mismanagement of the Later That Night tour. And in other news, King James opened a school, Omarosa is still Omarosa-ing, and Nicki is exposing men and their fraudulent hairlines. Still, I remain pressed. My commitment to being bothered by the lack of erotic energy in the song was made clear by rereading Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic.” Lorde defines the erotic as “a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual place, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.” 

Often mistaken for its substandard doppelganger, pornography, which “emphasizes sensation without feeling,” the erotic privileges feeling. The erotic fuses pleasure, healing, and self-reflection, and it is that energy that Taylor consistently brings to our cultural landscape. Teyana Taylor embodies eroticism. She’s a walking orgasm. She executes every project with an infectious vigor and mouthwatering aggression. We watched the “Fade” video to enjoy Ms. Taylor move; the music served as a complementary backdrop and Kim K’s husband’s recent shenanigans rendered his musical contribution completely unnecessary. One can watch the video on mute and be fully entertained, inspired even. Consider her runway work during Phillip Plein’s 2017 NYFW show, complete with cat crawling, duck walking, and a hip move bordering on sex simulation at the end of the runway. I would feel confident in calling it performance art.  Even the stretched pose on the KTSE album cover screams passion. Where was this energy on “3Way?” Why the subdued vocals? Why no sensuality in the instrumentation?

I don’t need her to give us a live recording of her, Iman, and their special guest, but I wanted the song to have the same effect as Janet Jackson’s  “Anytime, Anyplace,” Marsha Ambrosia’s “Late Nights, Early Mornings,” and Beyonce’s “Speechless:” songs that melt away the minutiae of the room; songs that turn the body into a sacred place and if one is brave enough to touch it, he must do it tenderly and with purpose; songs that concern themselves with pleasuring the body, and not necessarily lovemaking. I don’t mean to say that the erotic is absent when it comes to the physical manifestation of love, but I am saying that the purpose of the erotic is not limited to advancing the aims of love. These songs assist you in reaching a heightened ecstasy, and Audre Lorde teaches us that if you know that that type of pleasure exists in the world, then you will seek it in other spaces of your life. Lorde writes, “Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives.”

Teyana Taylor’s artistry assists me in that critical work. When I see the amount of energy that she brings to a simple strut, I am reminded that this is the amount of passion that I should bring to every mission I accept.  I wanted “3Way” to engage in that revolutionary work.