Three mix tapes and an explosive lead single with 2 On (featuring Schoolboy Q), Los Angeles-based artist Tinashe delivers more than just tracks about dancing and partying on her debut Aquarius. The album is an invitation for listeners to experience a new-age, modernized R&B with a throwback vibe and a sensual vibe. The 21-year-old’s passion for movement and song shines throughout the debut project with modernized R&B production just as compelling as her seductive vocals and well-written lyrics. Thanks to her background in both dance and music, her sensual expressive nature is well heard throughout the debut. It is clear the the young star-in-the-making draws plenty of inspiration from 90’s R&B, dance, some trap, and different sounds in hip-hop.
The world was first introduced to a young Tinashe in her minor roles in The Polar Express and Masked and Anonymous until she was discovered by the pop-singer Vitamin C almost a decade ago. Originally recruited to be apart of the short-lived girl group The Stunners, Tinashe’s time in the industry helped mold her idea of what she wanted and what she did not want to sound like. Stepping away from a label backing and working on her own, Tinashe grew-up and matured to develop a her own blend of music that still evolved with the times.
Being an independent artist for over two years allowed Tinashe to fit within the changing sound of popular culture, organically. As acts like The Weeknd, Drake, Frank Ocean, JMSN, and many other indie-turned-mainstream artists began to make their way into popular R&B culture, Tinashe’s deliverance onto the charts was almost serendipity. That is one of the reasons why her debut Aquarius is such a well-balanced listen that mixes an indie sound with a moody, low bass production and catchy, pop appeal.
At just 21, Tinashe manages to encompass the emotion and vibe that is well beyond her years. There is no denying that she is a lover with majority of the tracks seducing any naysayers of her sex appeal and delivering multiple bedroom anthems. Her falsetto accentuated with each hit of the bass, piano chord, and kick drum on the Mike Will Made It love anthem with a throwback appeal Thug Cry. One of the standout tracks, Feels Like Vegas, which may sound familiar for those familiar with Drake’s On One, but is an addictive listen. As she promises to dance and strip for her man like a Vegas-stripper, the young starlet is not afraid to deliver sex appeal that is not blatantly in your face. She continues to stay by her man’s side, the track Bet (featuring Dev Haynes) entrances listeners with a Flying Lotus guitar solo at the end. The following Cold Sweat and Future-assisted How Many Times continue the same seductive appeal and harmonically place listeners into a trance that is almost reminiscent of a FKA Twigs track.
Although majority of the album is bedroom playlist worthy, Tinashe finds a way to squeeze in some radio-friendly pop tracks and introspective singles. All Hands on Deck is a modernized 90’s R&B track with some synth production from Stargate and Cashmere Cat. The track is clearly meant for heavy replay within clubs and radios with its simple lyrics and repetitive chords. She channels the sadness and essence of regretting a powerful relationship turned bad on Pretend (featuring A$AP Rocky)Though it is not all tears with the young starlet as she proves that she can still love hard. Her interludes Indigo Child and The Calm also offer a little variety to Aquarius before the project blends all into one sound.
With Tinashe’s Aquarius, she shows promise to have one of the strongest careers in her niche of modernized R&B. Where some artists may just offer good looks and dance skills, Tinashe has the ability to produce, compliment a track, and offer a 55 minute compilation of audio sex. The list of big-named producers helped craft Aquarius into a great listen. Though there are some similarities to Aaliyah from her 90’s age, Tinashe still manages to standout amongst a string of cookie-cutter artists.
Opinion By Tyler Cole