Tinashe Jorgenson Kachingwe was only three years old when she started entertaining people with her acting and modeling. Now, at the age of 24, if we take the time to analyze her skills, we will easily realize that she is one of the most skilled musicians in the American industry: her vocals are great, she can write party anthems and really deep songs, she will give you one hell of a performance with her dancing, and she will be there if V Magazine needs her for their cover.
However, there is a problem: the general public does not seem to realize this. Sure, her debut single 2 On was huge on radio and it went #24 on the Billboard Hot 100, but if we continue reading her chart history it is easy to realize that despite the efforts of making her collaborate with popular fellow musicians, the rest of her singles failed to crack the Hot 100. Her debut album Aquarius was critically acclaimed, obtaining an 80 at Metacritic, but it only managed to sell 70,000 copies in the United States. Of course, this number is not completely bad for a debut album taking into account that sales are lower now than in the past, especially for R&B albums, but this production contains music of such high quality, cohesiveness, and complexity that said numbers can be a bit disappointing.
It is really hard to answer that question because as we know there are a lot of things that go down in the music industry that we do not know about (even if we watch Empire), but it is clear that Tinashe herself is not to blame. She is constantly promoting her own work and trying to give it all for her fans, but instead, it is her record label RCA Records who is holding her back.
Tinashe signed with her current record label back in 2012. RCA is the house to many powerhouse artists such as Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, and Usher. Sia is one example of how they have actually promoted certain songs heavily, as they did with Cheap Thrills which ended up topping the same Hot 100 that Tinashe was not able to touch.
Back in September 2015, Tinashe announced her second studio album via YouTube: Joyride. In the teaser trailer, the visuals are accompanied by a short speech that said: “I’ve discovered something out here / Something that can’t be duplicated / Defaced, simulated, neglected / Something that’s so powerful, need to share it with everyone // Haha, I can’t be ignored… // Motherf—ers… I can’t be ignored!”, which could be a very interesting link to her relationship with her record label.
One day, out of the blue, Party Favors (featuring Young Thug) was leaked on SoundCloud, which forced her team to release the first single Player, a collaboration with Chris Brown — which she did not necessarily want to happen. Later on, we learned that it was Tinashe herself who decided to leak the song as a wake-up call to her label in an interview she did with SPIN. She did not go against RCA in her statements but it is clear that she likes having control over her own career, and she was and still is desiring to do so.
“I’m not trying to diss my label because they’re awesome and they’re very supportive of me, but again it’s like, they’re playing a guessing game because you never know what’s the right thing to do. I felt like we were going in circles. People were arguing over which song should we put out first, what’s the first look. Sometimes it’s better to just force people to make a decision and be like, ‘You have to decide. No more wishy-washy.’”
However, it is now 2017 and there is still no news on Joyride. The album has been delayed an uncountable amount of times, and Tinashe never stopped her fight. This week, her single Superlove will turn one year old. It was definitely her most pop song and most of us thought it had the chance of being a huge hit as it was accompanied by what was, in my opinion, one of the best videos of 2016, directed by Hannah Lux Davis. Due to the lack of promotion, the single never managed to reach the general public. This same thing happened with her following singles Company and Flame, and her collaboration in Britney Spears’ Slumber Party.
Once in Lena Dunham’s podcast Women of the Hour, Tinashe spoke about one of her worst experiences in the music industry, when she saw her creativity and ideas get shut down by producers and songwriters. She mentioned she felt constantly pressured to write a song that had lyrics that she did not feel nor relate to, and when she asked her manager to listen to her, he suggested she went home. After bursting into tears, she was forced to record that song she hated in order to not seem as stubborn or ungrateful.
“Why was I, as a young woman, treated as if I had won some sort of prize in being here. Maybe a beauty contest or a popularity contest, and not with the full respect as an artist?”, she said. “I learned that if I couldn’t trust in myself, and my own opinions, I lost all of my value as an artist. I lost what made music so magical to me: the ability to express my feelings. That is something I will always hold on to.” You can listen to the extract from the interview here.
Again in 2016, when things seemed to be moving along Tinashe kicked off her Joyride World Tour. After a few dates, however, it came to an abrupt stop due to “unexpected recording commitments” of the album that still had not been released. In her Facebook statement, she said: “Trust me, I am as eager to get it out to you as you are to hear it. I will be wrapping up the finishing touches on Joyride by the end of May, and will be back on the road shortly thereafter to see all of you. If you know anything about me, you know this was the last thing I would ever want to do.” Sadly and most likely against her wishes, none of those things happened.
Fortunately, Tinashe’s fans were graced with a digital project called Nightride last November, which was written over the course of 2 years alongside Joyride. It was released with a short film and it contains 15 R&B and Alternative tracks which mostly resemble her earlier songs and her mixtapes. It received positive reviews and peaked at #89 on the Billboard 200.
In July of 2017, we are still unaware of what will happen to Joyride. Singles are still being released but the situation seems to keep repeating itself over and over again. It is not easy to be a Tinashe fan, as these occurrences have gotten really frustrating, mainly because we all want and need new music, but also because we adore her and want her to succeed because she truly deserves it. No one really knows when RCA Records will realize that they are missing out on a big opportunity for themselves and for the music industry when they do not let this star shine, but we can only have hope that in the near future her time will finally come, and she will be able to break through.