Why Tinashe Is One of 2017's Most Daring Artists

Dennis Leupold

Presented by:
Guess Dare

In today’s pop landscape, it’s not enough to be good at one thing. That’s no problem for Tinashe, the savvy 24-year-old who’s seduced us with sultry bedroom R&B, done sexy bubblegum-reggae with Britney Spears, and held her own with rappers like Future and Travis Scott. Even in a post-genre, anything goes world, this multifaceted singer, songwriter, actress, and model has found her own unique lane.

“If you actually listen to my entire discography, from even the beginning, it’s been relatively versatile,” Tinashe told Billboard. “I’ve been really lucky to live in that world of not so black-and-white, and not having to box myself in.”

This was especially true in 2017. As fans eagerly awaited her third album, Joyride, Tinashe delivered a string of exciting, stylistically diverse tracks. In January, she teamed with British rapper Tinie Tempah for “Text from Your Ex” and the DJ duo Lost Kings for the ’80s-flavored party track “Quit You.” Next came “Flame,” the smoldering synth-pop single she released in March, followed by September’s “Light Up the Night,” a mix of pop, R&B, and EDM created for the NFL Network. In October, Tinashe guested on “up in this,” a celebratory banger by blackbear.

Tinashe has been doing her own thing since the very beginning. She moved from Kentucky to L.A. at the age of 8 to pursue acting, then broke into music with the aughts-era girl group The Stunners. After the band split up, she taught herself production and self-released three critically acclaimed alt-R&B mixtapes—In Case We Die, Reverie, and Black Water—between 2012 and 2013.

In 2014, having signed with RCA, Tinashe released her debut album, Aquarius, which spawned the Top 40 hit “2 On,” featuring rapper ScHoolboy Q. The following year, Tinashe toured with Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry and collaborated with Chris Brown, Chance The Rapper, and Young Thug. All the while, she amassed new music, telling Billboard in August of 2015 that she’d recorded 30 songs for Joyride. “Days off drive me crazy,” Tinashe said. “I just sit around and I think about all the shit I could be doing.”

While fans didn’t get Joyride in 2016, Tinashe tided everyone over with an entirely different album, Nightride. Even more notable were that year’s A-list collabos. Tinashe went reggaeton on Enrique Iglesias’ global smash “Duele el Corazón” and fulfilled a childhood dream by linking with Britney Spears for “Slumber Party,” which reached #1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. The sexy “Slumber Party” video got even more people buzzing about Joyride, a project that Tinashe has obviously poured her heart into.

“It's been almost finished for a while now,” she told Billboard in July 2017. “I'm just focused on making a ton of music and making it the best I can. I'm super creative right now, I've been in the zone making songs every single day, and the project could come out at any time. It'll feel right when it's right, but it's not for lack of music. I'm excited.”

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