Tinashe does everything on her own terms. The stunning 21-year-old singer, songwriter, and performer arrives with a distinct and dynamic vision of R&B punctuated by hip-hop attitude, pop flavor, rock swagger, and electronica spark. It all comes to life vividly on Aquarius, her forthcoming full-length debut on RCA Records.
That alchemical blend of genres can actually be traced back to her childhood in Los Angeles. Music surrounded the budding star at home as her father’s Shona heritage filtered into daily life, building an atmosphere conducive to creativity and art.
“My dad’s family is from Zimbabwe, and it’s a very musical culture,” affirms Tinashe. “From my earliest memories, music was all around me. It was part of my DNA, and I just loved everything about it. Doing music became my biggest goal as soon as I could sing!”
Getting in front of the camera for the first time, she started modeling with the encouragement of her family. Soon, that transformed into acting and she went on to star in her first film, 2000’s Cora Unashamed, followed by a role in The Polar Express with Tom Hanks and a recurring spot on Two And A Half Men. However, her hunger to make music superseded everything, and she joined an all-female pop group The Stunners in 2007, placing acting on the backburner for the moment. The Stunners went on to sign a major label deal and open up Justin Bieber’s My World tour before parting ways in 2011. That’s when Tinashe’s own dream came into focus clearly.
“I decided to pursue my solo career with everything I could,” she recalls. “I learned how to record and tour while I was in The Stunners, but it was time for me to say something personal. I always want to create art that’s true to who I am as both a person and an artist. So, at that point, I bought my own studio equipment and a camera in order to capture that. I wrote and recorded music and began releasing songs and videos online.”
Her first mixtape, In Case We Die, dropped in 2012, and it immediately piqued interest across pop culture. She burst out of the gate with a passionate, powerful, and provocative style that seduced everyone in its path. Critical acclaim abounded, and she unleashed her second release Reverie. In the midst of everything, RCA signed her that same year.
Tinashe tapped into a sound that solely belonged to her. “It’s progressive R&B,” she exclaims. “It’s not what you typically would expect R&B to sound like. There are influences from so many different genres that come together in one melting pot. I want to experiment. I want to break boundaries.”
2013 saw Tinashe unveil her third mixtape, Black Water, and it garnered praise from the likes of Spin, Fader, Noisey, The Source, Vibe, and more. At the same time, she holed up in the studio with the likes of Ryan Hemsworth [Grimes, Frank Ocean], Dev Hynes [Solange Knowles, Sky Ferreira], Clams Casino [A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, Mac Miller], Stuart Matthewman [Sade], and more preparing songs for what would become her major label debut.
Now, the set’s first single “2 On” featuring ScHoolboy Q and produced by DJ Mustard, solidifies Tinashe’s presence. Driven by her sensual and soaring delivery, it’s a banging anthem that instantly charms. “I have a lot of songs that are a little more serious or emotional, but ‘2 On’ is meant to be fun,” she goes on. “It’s about celebrating being young, going out, partying with your friends, and living it up. That was my inspiration. It’s got a West Coast vibe with ScHoolboy Q and DJ Mustard, but it has my spin too.”
On the other end of the spectrum, she teams up with A$AP Rocky and super producer Detail [Lil Wayne] for the sharp “Pretend,” which illuminates her range and raw talent. She reveals, “It’s about dealing with people who put on a front because it makes them feel better about a certain situation. That’s the emotional side of my music.”