Hip Hop Review: Introducing RCA’s Tinashe; ‘Aquarius’ Lands At #16

R&B singer, songwriter and dancer Tinashe Jorgen Kachingwe, also known by her stage name Tinashe, heated up the airwaves last summer with the released of her single, “2 On” Ft. School Boy Q.

The biracial 21-year-old was born to a Zimbabwean father and Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Irish mother in Harare, Zimbabwe. As a young child, her parents and two younger brothers migrated to Los Angeles, CA. Before pursuing a career in music, Tinashe was a model and actress. She appeared in the films ‘Cora Unashamed,’ ‘The Polar Express’ and the sitcom ‘Two and a Half Men’.

She attended Crescenta Valley High School and finished a year early in order to pursue her music dreams.

As a teenager (14-18), the Zimbabwean beauty was a member of the girl group, The Stunners. The group signed to Columbia Records and released a single titled, “Bubblegum” on iTunes along with an official video. The group signed a production deal with Lionsgate Entertainment, after they left Columbia in 2009. The production deal helped the girls get a scripted television pilot based on the group, which was ordered by MTV. Later that year, The Stunners released a 5-song EP.

Even though things didn’t quite work out with Columbia, The Stunners shopped for another record deal, eventually signing to Universal Republic Records. A full album was planned, but cancelled when the group disbanded in 2011.

With two record deals going sour and the group disbanding, Tinashe could have easily given up, but instead she did the opposite — kept going.

Tinashe decided to focus on her career as a solo artist, releasing her first solo video – a cover of Lil Wayne’s “How to Love”.  The song was later released as a free digital download via Tinashe’s website. Two months later, she released the music video for “Can’t Say No”.

With all her hard work and popularity, Tinashe didn’t reach mainstream success, which she is still fighting for. Her two critically acclaimed mixtapes, ‘In Case We Die’ and ‘Reverie’, were released in 2012, and helped her to land a recording contract with RCA Records. Her third mixtape, ‘Black Water’ was released a year before her debut album, ‘Aquarius’.

‘Aquarius’ debut single “2 On”, featuring School Boy Q, held the #1 spot on rhythm radio over one month and has peaked at number 24 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming her first top 40 hit single. The album’s second single “Pretend”, featuring rapper A$AP Rocky, premiered a couple of months ago and it currently sits at #45 on U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs on Billboard.

‘Aquarius’ also features guest appearances from Future and Devonte Hynes and was released via RCA Records on October 7 and debuted at #16 on Billboard 200, selling over 18,000 copies, which is pretty good. Today, records aren’t selling much and artists barely make money off of album sells. Most money is made from shows, tours, merchandising and endorsements.

Tinashe is hot because she stands out and is different. Instead of following the trend and singing half naked like other artists, she has decided to wear a bit more clothes and dress in tomboy inspired ensembles – baggy pants styled with Timberland boots or Air Jordan sneakers.

Tinashe has what it takes to reach mainstream success and I am rooting for her.

 BY DONOVAN MOORE