In the realm of music, the person behind the mic is praised by the public for their craft and talent. However, no song would be successful without the geniuses behind the scenes assisting in the production of these hits. One of these geniuses is none other than Grammy-awarding winning producer Troy Taylor. Taylor pushes the creative envelope in ways few dare to try. Creating some of the biggest critically-acclaimed hits of the past two decades, it is evident that there is no such thing as a restraint in his creative process.
Before reaching the age of 21, Taylor was signed as an artist to Motown Records. In the midst of working on his album for Motown, Taylor had a revelation and decided to change career paths. He took a more behind-the-scenes position; one that he felt would offer greater longevity along with more creative control. Proving himself to be correct, two of Taylor’s debut songs, “Little Things” and “Your Love,” were placed on Boyz II Men’s debut album, Cooley High Harmony, which sold over 12 million copies. Taylor earned a Grammy award for each.
Taylor’s ear for music and his natural ability to gain people’s attention enabled him to make great strides in his career. Taylor’s genius-like abilities as a musician, writer, vocal arranger, and producer can be heard on albums from artists such as The Isley Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Patti Labelle, The Mighty O-Jay’s, Mary J. Blige, Ginuwine, Brian McKnight, B2K, Trey Songz, and Johnny Gill to name a few. His work with Aretha Franklin garnered him his third Grammy Award. Working with emerging R&B stars Jacquees, YK Osiris, and Ann Marie, Taylor has been able to transcend into the new era of R&B.
As an entrepreneur, Taylor formed a production company, Songbook Entertainment. In 2003 he signed recording artist Trey Songz, who would go on to land a deal at Atlantic Records. With Taylor masterminding the production of the breakthrough album Gotta Make It, Trey Songz was named BET’s Best R&B Male Artist of the Year. Continuing their musical bond, Taylor is currently working with Trey Songz on the release of the Anticipation 1 & 2 mixtapes set to be re-released to all streaming formats in January.
Taylor values the importance of human connection and vulnerability in the art of production. According to the musical guru, “when you understand what music does to people, you know what specific elements have to be in music. A lot of people don’t know how to express what they’re hearing or what they are feeling when they hear it, but if you can articulate it then you know how to keep reproducing it. When it comes to R&B, particularly for me, I know the elements that go into making people feel certain ways.”
Taylor broke down the qualities an artist needs to possess in order to be successful in the upcoming decade. “They need to possess transparency- the ability and willingness to articulate their emotions and share it with other people that are going through it and feel the same way,” Taylor says. “They need to understand their responsibility in creating R&B music by opening up and letting people know how they feel so that they could relate to it in some type of way. You can’t be mundane and trivial because you don’t want to be vulnerable and share anything about yourself. They also need to reach back and implement the emotion in their melodies and arrangements musically and vocally.”
As a teacher of the art, whether that’s helping people find their sound or using his midas touch to create soulful ballads, Taylor has garnished his success by mastering the artistry from the inside-out. He believes that R&B is the heart of the black narrative. “An R&B song needs a great melody, lyrics, harmony, and chords for it to be able to resonate. I need something that makes my head sway or knock, which is usually tied into the melody or harmony,” Taylor explains. Those elements are echoed in Taylor’s enigmatic creations. Helping shape the rapid evolution of R&B, he’s proven himself to be seemingly unstoppable in this new era with his domineering energy and infectious beats, while maintaining the true essence of R&B.
Written By: Erica Charles