September 19, 2014

MIXTAPE | Introducing: Tinashe

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I’m going to assume that many of you have never heard of Tinashe. For those few who are at least somewhat acquainted with the LA-based singer/songwriter, occasional actress and former model (quite a resumé this 21 year old is building!), it’s more than likely that you’re familiar with her most recent single, “2 On,” which I’d go so far as to label one of the hit songs of the summer, ignoring the fact that she dropped it in January. (In my defense, the song only really began to receive airplay on mainstream stations in the past two months.) “2 On,” which features a raunchy guest verse courtesy of West Coast rapper Schoolboy Q, is the epitome of a summertime anthem: It’s an unabashed celebration of living a carefree life featuring “trees” and “drinks” that are “way too strong.” Despite its somewhat questionable lyrical content, “2 On” has fantastic crossover potential, seeing Tinashe abandon the eclectic production that characterized all three of her currently-available mixtapes in favor of the single’s radio-friendly beat, which I consider to be very reminiscent of ‘90s and ‘00s R&B.

Speaking of mixtapes, you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t listen to the entirety of Black Water, Tinashe’s latest, and most engrossing, release. Before delving into the beauty and brilliance that is Black Water, let it be known that Tinashe recorded and engineered all three of her mixtapes in her bedroom.Food for thought: This girl means business. In my opinion, Black Water has two standout tracks — “Secret Weapon” and “Midnight Sun.”

You can tell by the former’s thumping, menacing instrumental, coupled with the fact that Tinashe’s haunting vocals still sound delicate and innocent even as she schemes to entice her lover with her “secret weapon,” that Tinashe isn’t messing around when it comes to the physical aspect of relationships. On “Secret Weapon,” we hear her at her most confident, and it’s fantastic — and more than a little intimidating.

“Midnight Sun,” on the other hand, starts off with Tinashe’s soaring vocals reaching a breathy, almost ethereal high that bridges the somewhat gushy intro (“just call me / when your world’s crashing down around you / wrap you up in my love, surround you / with my own body”) with the just-above-a-whisper outro that harkens back to the unrestrained sensuality of “Secret Weapon” (“Tongue kissing / end up on the floor with it”). Both are excellent tracks that display the breadth of Tinashe’s vocal abilities (seriously, her upper register is pure gold), and I highly suggest you give them a listen. Feel free to check out her fantastic cover of Drake’s “Days in the East,” which she aptly renames “Days in the West,” as well.

Be on the look out for Tinashe’s debut album, Aquarius, which drops on October 7th!

Zachary de Stefan is a freshman in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at [email protected]. Mixtape will run alternate Fridays.