Over the past four years, Tinashe, a 23-year-old former child actor turned singer, has been nudging the needle of R&B forward with a handful of moody and distinctive projects. Eschewing the glossy production and gospel-influenced, showboating singing style characteristic of traditional R&B, she wove a cocoon, leaning on woozy, atmospheric beats that nodded to chopped-n-screwed culture. Despite her movie-biz background and, yes, camera-ready face, however, she’s struggled to break through in the music industry.
This commercial mixtape was released to appease listeners awaiting the proper follow-up to Aquarius. Due to the seduction-oriented lyrical matter and dominance of leisurely tempos, its title could easily be taken as a euphemism. Indeed, any vehicular travel soundtracked by these wispy slow jams couldn't possibly exceed 25 m.p.h. A moonlit setting is established from the beginning and never quite reaches dawn, highlighted by "Lucid Dreaming," "Sacrifices," "Soul Glitch," and "Ride of Your Life," all intoxicated ballads laced with attitude, desire, and subtle hooks.
Is it a mixtape? Half of a double album? Ultimately, who cares? Nightride is the first sizable tranche of new music from Tinashe, whose Aquarius album (2014) catapulted the newcomer to the status of R&B superstar-in-waiting. With Joyride, Aquarius’s official follow-up, repeatedly delayed (“sometime in 2017”), Nightride plugs the gap with a series of hazy, gauzy tracks. Theoretically, Nightride plays a nocturnal yin to the more pumping yang of Joyride.
A weekly roundup of must-hear music from The Times staffers. This week’s picks include the latest from young R&B singer Tinashe, as well as dance artist-to-watch Avalon Emerson and the most recent bid by a Jonas brother to enter adulthood. Tinashe, “Nightride” (RCA) This is a modal window. Los Angeles R&B singer Tinashe’s career has been on a graceful rise since “2 On,” her collaboration with rapper Schoolboy Q, hit in 2014.
The journey up to Tinashe’s sophomore album, Joyride, has been anything but. Though announced in 2015, it continues to remain as elusive as the identity of Becky With the Good Hair. Regardless of Tinashe’s stream of steady and impressive singles over the year, it seems the forces behind her debut are (unfortunately) holding out for a Top 40 connection a la “2 On”.