Rising star Tinashe transcends with debut album Aquarius


Album: Aquarius

Artist: Tinashe

Label: RCA

Release Date: Oct. 7

Grade: B

After working in the industry since she was a kid, Tinashe managed to create her own artistic vision, exemplified in her album, Aquarius.

The R&B songstress has quite the resume. Over the past two years, she has released three mixtapes: In Case We Die, Reverie and Black Water. Now with more experience, Tinashe delivers a mature sound that divulges into themes of ambition, love and the art of getting “2 On.”

Although Tinashe doesn’t have the strongest voice, she sings euphorically over the melodies of her tracks. Her powerful emotions supersede her lack of vocal range.

She opens with “Aquarius,” using light, fluttering vocals accompanied with rhythmic snaps and smooth 808s. There’s a bright falsetto section, which enhances her breathy singing.

“Stars, stars are blind, blind, blind / The government, the media, the forums blind, blind,” she sings, vowing to keep her individuality and maintain creative control of her art, no matter what society’s commentary will be.

“Cold Sweat” heats up with an ominously polished beat from Boi-1da and SykSense. Tinashe croons seductively in the song focusing on the pressures of the music industry.

“This pressure ain’t for everybody / weighing so heavy on my body.”

Boi-1da and SykSense also add dark, slowed down distorted voices to highlight Tinashe’s lyrics.

Aquarius takes a turn when producer DJ Mustard’s signature, “Mustard on the beat h—e” drops on Tinashe’s popular hit “2 On.” The song was this summer’s turn up anthem.

“2 On,” means to get a little too faded. “Get ratchet, go dumb, then go more dumb / Then we can keep it lit, let's roll,” Tinashe sings. The song exemplifies being young and having a good time.

Tinashe’s singing is infectious, highlighted by DJ Mustard’s fast-paced melodic sounds. There is also a great verse from Schoolboy Q as a guest rapper.

Taking a note from retro R&B with a modern twist, Tinashe is sultry in “How Many Times,” one of her slower, more intimate songs.

The song opens seductively in French, translated to “I like being with you / I don’t know where the time flies.”

“How Many Times” samples the instrumental and French lyrics from Janet Jackson’s “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun),” one of Tinashe’s obvious influences.

The song acts as a lustful conversation between Tinashe and her lover, who is played by rapper Future. The guest rapper intensifies the song with his energy as Tinashe sings with raw emotion.

“All Hands on Deck” picks up where “2 On,” left off. The song is a fun post-break up party anthem where Tinashe sings, “Kiss the old me goodbye she’s dead and gone.”

Producers Stargate and Cashmere Cat’s use of synths and a unique flute segment heighten the atmosphere of the music.

Aquarius closes with “Wildfire” which acts as a triumphant sequel to “All Hands on Deck.” The song is completed with captivating up-tempo drums with fiery vocals from Tinashe.

“You’re poison running through my veins / End it with a spark into a pool of gasoline,” Tinashe sings about burning the love and ending the toxic romance with a boyfriend.

The song breaks down with Tinashe singing solely accompanied by 808s and a snappy rhythm that truly sets “Wildfire” ablaze.

Aquarius highlights Tinashe’s songwriting abilities and arrangements. Her sound and lyrics are youthful and relatable speaking directly to the Millennial Generation.

With such a popular song in “2 On” the pressure for her not only to be a one-hit wonder is clear. While she still has some growing to do as an artist, Aquarius proves she has potential to be more than her summer hit.

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