Tinashe’s commercial debut single “2 On” and the moderate success of her debut album made her an artist to watch in 2014. The Kentucky-born singer not only received comparisons to Janet Jackson for her electric dance moves, but also to Aaliyah for her ability to tell a story through a cohesive, yet diverging sound.
Fast-forward to 2018, the once-blooming singer-songwriter is denied the release of her fourth album “’Nashe” after her third album “Joyride,” described as “generic,” only sold less than 5,000 copies in its first week. As a gifted singer-songwriter and skilled dancer, many were left wondering what went wrong. While her stunted career is repeatedly blamed on neglect of her artistry on the part of her former label RCA Records, the rumors were nearly validated when it was announced she had left the label to “get back her creative control.” Now, in 2019, Tinashe is stepping into a new era with the release of “Songs For You,” her first independent album.
Written almost entirely by Tinashe, “Songs For You” is a return to form. The project resembles her first three mixtapes and debut album in their organic nature and features the Top 40/alt-R&B sound Tinashe has been building since 2014. The Hitmaka-produced “Link Up,” one of the unused tracks from “‘Nashe,” is a primary example of this. Moreover, Tinashe continues to be a boundary-pusher with genre-bending tracks like “Stormy Weather” and the Ms Banks-assisted lead single “Die a Little Bit.”
The songstress also offers a bit of scandal toward the end of the project with “So Much Better.” On the song, Tinashe uses her sexuality to her advantage as she and rapper G-Eazy trade verses about a raunchy affair seemingly conceived out of vengeance. The song’s lead-in is a six-second interlude titled “You” where Tinashe states “all things songs are for you baby, you know who you are,” leading some fans to believe the singer is taking a jab at her former partner NBA player Ben Simmons.
While “Songs For You” lacks the cohesion of her previous releases in some places, it features the full-body vocals she is known for. As a skilled dancer and songwriter, Tinashe is one of the few of her kind whose singing ability matches her other efforts, making her a triple-threat. This is evident on tracks such as “Perfect Crime” and “Save Room For Us” featuring MAKJ. The latter features some of Tinashe’s best writing as she channels the pain of her aforementioned relationship through a soaring vocal performance even the best singers would be proud of.
Tinashe’s journey from down-and-out industry plant to thriving independent star is a primary example of the label not doing their job: supporting and nurturing its artists. Fortunately, this account of label negligence will serve as a lesson for artists to never lose sight of their sound. The day of its release, “Songs For You” catapulted to number one on the iTunes albums chart, which was Tinashe’s first album to do so. The handcrafted nature of the project is what drew fans in, but impressive songwriting backed by immensely-forward production and raw talent may ultimately be why they stay.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Stream Tinashe’s album “Songs For You” below.