'I set the bar high,' says the R&B singer, who's scaling the Rhythmic Songs and R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts with '2 On'
R&B's newest starlet is aiming high. "2 On," featuring Schoolboy Q, the lead single from Tinashe's forthcoming debut album, "Aquarius," is growing steadily on radio, moving 24-21 in just its fourth week on Billboard's Rhythmic Songs chart dated May 10 and 31-29 in its fifth week on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, both new peaks. The on-air support is translating to rising sales as well, with the song moving 17-14 on R&B Digital Songs thanks to a 22 percent weekly gain to 11,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It has sold 65,000 total. But that's not enough for Tinashe.
"I have unrealistic goals for myself — I set the bar so high," says the singer, born Tinashe Kachingwe, of her budding single. "So I have to step back and give myself a little bit of a reality check, like, 'Things are actually doing great.' It's reaching so many different people."
The Los Angeles singer started as an actress, with a recurring role on CBS' "Two and a Half Men." Her first foray into music was as a member of girl group The Stunners, which signed to Columbia before splitting in 2011. She inked to RCA as a solo act a year later, and in 2013 released "Black Water," a buzzy mixtape she crafted alone in her home studio. It's as sexy as it is trippy — an alt-R&B swirl of lithe vocals and quiet, pensive beats. The same can't be said for "2 On," a DJ Mustard-produced cut for the club — a place the 21-year-old can now legally frequent.
"I wanted '2 On' to be transitional, so people get used to the idea of, 'She can make songs that can play on the radio, and she can still make songs that I can vibe out to in my car.' "
The song has also helped liven up her concerts, where attendees used to match her older songs' chill vibe. "With this song, it's not such a struggle [for fans] to, like, clap or sing along," Tinashe says with a laugh. "They're already having fun and pumped up."
According to Lisa Cambridge-Mitchell, senior vp urban marketing at RCA, the label's strategy for Tinashe is to "bring what she did with her mixtape in her bedroom and elevate it. We say, 'Here's an opportunity to work with some of the best producers and vocalists.' "
Tinashe has already recorded with ASAP Rocky and Future for "Aquarius," tentatively due out in late summer. Boi-1da (Eminem, Drake) produced "Cold Sweat," which Tinashe loves for its "dark, bass-heavy sound."
With that big-name support, Tinashe's goals may yet come to fruition. "I really am very lucky," she says. "All of the signs are pointing in the right direction."