When I first listened to Tinashe’s debut album, the first thing I said to myself is that she has the potential to be as influential as Aaliyah. That is a big statement and may offend some but Tinashe is a big talent. Aaliyah is definitely an influence though, and Tinashe’s minimalist style can easily be compared to the likes of fellow alternative R&B singer Jhene Aiko. While her debut album does not quite match up to those I’m comparing her to, at 21, Aquarius is not a bad starting place at all.
I’m sure everyone’s heard her hit lead single “2 On” ft ScHoolboy Q, probably the biggest song of the Los Angeles singer/songwriter’s career to date. The song was a summer smash and got her known on the international stage. Although her rise to fame may seem sudden to many, she’s no stranger to the music industry. She spent most of her teenage years in a girl group called The Stunners who briefly toured with Justin Bieber, before spending the last few years at work on a steady stream of promising, if unpolished, mixtapes recorded in her home studio. Aquarius, by her own admission, is like an extension of her mixtapes, elevated to professional quality where they once felt muddled while leaving breadcrumb trails leading back to her bedroom-producer past—distorted guitar solos, eerie found-sound interludes, somber spoken word bits, and so on. Tinashe had complete control over her debut LP and she stuck to what she knows, which is not a bad thing.
A negative point for me was that midway through the album songs started to blend together, more or less becoming one sulky song after another.However, some people may like this. Although the features are credible artists, ASAP Rocky, Future and Schoolboy Q don’t really bringing anything to the table aside from a stamp of masculinity that gives the “okay” for guys to like it. The rappers don’t offer up any sort of lyrical gems that have found them success, making their verses seem like throwaways, with the exception of maybe Q. From another perspective, it could be that these features were placed purposefully in order to let Tinashe take all the shine– as not once does a male feature outdo her. It’s also interesting that all her features are rappers, because it would not be hard to find a male R&B singer to put on a record (there’s plenty to choose from).
Overall, the album rounds off as a solid first LP effort. Tinashe’s faith in her own vision could pay off in a climate like right now, where a record deal is hardly the be-all or end-all to a legitimate career. The foundations are definitely in place for a successful career and at 21, Tinashe is definitely one to watch.
Songs to listen out for: Cold Sweat, All Hands on Deck, Feels Like Vegas, Indigo Child (Interlude), Thug Cry, Far Side Of The Moon
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