On November 4 2016, after months of anticipation, one of R&Bs most underrated artists bestowed us with Nightride. With a solid back catalogue of self-produced mixtapes and a studio album already under her belt, Tinashe has both found her sound and audibly continues to progress as an artist. Her refusal to sit comfortably within a specific genre, or to adhere to what a female musician should be is a breath of fresh air. The surprise R&B/hip-hop infused/experimental release, ahead of the heavily anticipated sophomore album, Joyride (which is still to be released after what feels like forever of teasing), signifies her lack of complacency within her discipline – I don’t think many of us could have known that whilst we were anticipating Joyride, this project was simultaneously under production.
Featuring production from Metro Boomin and previous collaborator Boi-1 da, this project is a marked departure from the summer’s impossibly catchy Miami Booty-Bass inspired hit Superlove, which gained countless YouTube video and radio plays. In the same vain as All Hands on Deck, Tinashe showcases her impressive dance training and reminds us exactly why she is one to be watching in the game. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t initially unhappy by both of these videos – the sexuality felt somewhat forced and was placed above the musicality Tinashe is so strong at creating. However, these two songs don’t define Tinashe and they haven’t done any harm in the long run – the fact that this project was quietly being worked on in the background shows how T values both commercial success as well as experimenting and developing as an artist.
Soaked in vulnerability, Lucid Dreaming amongst other are ethereal and delicate. We are taken back to 2012’s Reverie, in its overarching yet contradictory depth and lightness. Tinashe’s lyricism is open, honest, and more than anything: human. “I still care about being loyal and I always paid the price/ I won’t let em take advantage cause I’m way too fucking nice” in Lucid Dreaming and “Your perception of me is so untrue…now I find myself at the edge of my sanity” gives us a glimpse into the world and mind of an acutely self-aware 23 year-old musician, grappling with self perception, self realisation and self love.
Tinashe fans will recognise a few tracks from the album already – the dark, off kilter Party Favours (sans the Young Thug feature) and Ride of Your Life were released back in 2015 and early 2016 respectively. We then received wonky and off-kilter single Company in September of this year. Despite being available before the album release, this track is still a stand out. It is intoxicating and expertly fluctuates between tentative sweetness and dominating aggression. Extended moans, whispers and cheeky ad-libs are key in the expression of desire for physical company for the night – “I don’t need the loving/So don’t make this something/I’m nothing like a girlfriend” is to the point and oozing with sexuality. The Dream really smashed the production on this track – pairing a constant sped-up metronomic sound with the all-too-familiar hip hop hi-hat, we are left teetering on the edge and craving more.
Speaking of sexuality, we can’t discuss this album without touching on the breathy, rumbling Touch Pass. Reverberating drums that roll throughout sit under romantic piano chords to make the ultimate come-to-bed song. With a honeyed rasp, T commands that her lover “Don’t ask, just do/ Your hands want to/You got a touch pass/ Come through”. The confidence in her sensuality is incredibly sexy and contagious.
Tinashe is proof that owing and exuding your own sexiness does not equate to being slutty or trashy – a stereotype often thrust upon women in music, and especially women of colour (and even more so, black women). Tinashe’s persistence in experimentation of expression allows her to continually push boundaries and make us re-think the boundaries of R&B music – both vocalists and producers.
Hold tight Joyride…