Songs For You: A Lyric Review – Issa Independent Pop Star, Tinashe’s Star Soars Higher than Ever
Written by Corey Anthony Tucker.
Pop stars. They sing well-constructed hits, penned in conjunction with writing camps that are catchy enough to crack through to, and crawl deep inside the public consciousness. Their lyricism leans on themes universal, tangible enough to touch their millions of fans; like the lingering, layered affects of love and sex. Their music and music videos inspire viral memes and tik toks that their stans view cyclically, obsessively, voraciously. Their labels peddle them proudly as a product to be consumed. THEE product to be consumed.
Much like a product then, pop stars run the risk of being shelved for a number of reasons, i.e under-performing in the pop climate, or worse still, label doubts that they will ever acclimate, i.e the Bad Boy curse. Pop stars whom dare to deviate from their intended ‘programming’ can be subject to narratives of being outmoded; whereby newer, more compliant models are favoured to replace them. Think Rita Ora being proclaimed as the “new Rihanna”, despite Rihanna only being 24 at the time. If faulty products are replaceable, then so are pop stars, right? Wrong.
Pop stars aren’t products, they’re people. Their inability to thrive in the pop climate can often be sourced to the suppression – at their labels behest – of the chimeric instinct. If people are multifaceted, then so are pop stars. Tinashe has always advocated this truth. Now unencumbered by the limitations placed on her by label politics, Tinashe’s latest album Songs For You sees her capitalise on the chameleonic quality of her music. The same quality that was framed as a liability by her former label, with her star soaring to new heights as a result – the independently released album reached no. 1 on the iTunes chart.
Tinashe is bored of the bullshit on album opener Feelings. ‘Nashe’ – her audacious alter ego, is an unbothered baddie, unwilling to put up with or spare the feelings of men. She’s the type to throw a man’s arse to the curb if they fail to cater to her needs, ‘if that nigga acting up, put his ass out/ If a nigga can’t fuck, put his ass out’. Don’t get it twisted, Tinashe is all about duality and thus all about emoting. She wants to entrust her man with her feelings, ‘you got me way better off than you found me’. But, aided by her innermost adult, acknowledges that reciprocity is required to access them, ‘don’t be too proud to admit that you need me’.
On Life’s Too Short Tinashe flaunts that her desire corresponds with her autonomy, outlining that destiny didn’t connect her with her now ex. He was a conscious choice, her choice, ‘who gon’ see your face in the crowd – pick you out like me?’.
Stormy Weather is the manifestation of Tinashe’s natural buoyancy and desire to be unfettered by genre, ‘switch up, every day, every evening’.
Unafraid to unshell her bad bitch exterior, Tinashe reaps the rewards of embracing affection à la au natural. The result being her most anthemic cut to date, Save Room For Us. The songs delicate dance takes the form of Tinashe waxing nostalgic about the ethereal plaguing and saving her. Memories of Tinashe’s former relationship are firmer than ever, but the once turgid connection she shared with her ex is intangible now, ‘blank shadows of the way we used to be’. Try as she might, Tinashe cannot grip that which is gone. But she’ll be damned if that fact stops her from hoping. From holding onto the chance that their connection could make a comeback, ‘I trust you’ll come back for us, someday’.
Conversely, the ethereal can offer some comfort. Tinashe can render herself intangible, invisible, ‘slowly disappearing’ in an effort to reduce the roughness of her reality: there’s no going back to her ex, ‘and I know you’ve moved on’.
A catchy chorus plays only a small part in why Save Room For Us is such an audacious anthem. The song tells the truth about Tinashe’s vulnerability and viscera, illustrating the breadth of the hurt she harbours in her heart. Allowing us to know her, to know in ourselves that it’s natural to want more from our failed relationships. Know that it’s normal to hope for another day, another dimension, another way in which we can re-establish relationships lost, rekindle connections frayed, ‘just save room for us… I know you feel it, somewhere, somewhere’.
Shedding hope for hedonism, Die A Little Bit unearths Tinashe at her most apocalyptic. She is living her best life, partying as if it’ll be her last, ‘drink, smoke, dance, vibe a little bit/ Fuck, change, ride, die a little bit’. Because after baring her heart and losing it, how else could she hope to feel alive? The good sis Ms Banks is a sounding board of solidarity on this cut, echoing Tinashe’s epithets of perpetually partying, ‘wanna let go, party ‘til the sunlight (Uh-uh)’. Whilst the girls are gone on ‘that white, that rum Bacardi’, I’m drunken on the danger of Ms Banks sexily subdued flow. This cunty collab testifies to the power promised from going out with da gyaldem.
Masochism is hot on the heels of hedonism on Perfect Crime. Nashe’s heart hasn’t a hope of ‘healing up’ because her pain morphs into pleasure and back again without a moments notice, ‘it hurts so bad, it hurts so good’. Even with her ex leaving a proverbial knife in her chest, effectively ‘killin’’ her, she grants him the power, the opportunity to revive her via reigniting their relationship, ‘I wanna come alive with you’. Tinashe’s heart mightn’t be intact, but her sense of irony most definitely is.
The Nashe persona is in full effect on baddie anthem Link Up; where sis unapologetically epitomises Imma-Steal-Yo-Man and On Sight Energy simultaneously, ‘take a trip, let him book it for me/ G-GPS your nigga if you looking for me’.
Not unlike her musical mother, Janet Jackson, Nashe takes pride in the potency of her sexuality, particularly on So Much Better, ‘every night I need it (I love it)’. Nashe dispels the notion that women are the likelier sex to require an emotional attachment as a predicate for acting on their carnal desires, ‘I’ma sit on top your face like fuck a conversation (I love it)’.
The albums sole misstep (one I’m desperate to move on from) is featuring G-Eazy on So Much Better; a frustratingly obtuse choice considering Nashe refers to the object of her desire as ‘nigga’ on this cut.
Tinashe sheds rue and wreckage alike to arrive at the epicentre of her healing heart – an isle of fond remembrance on cathartic album closer Remember When. She’s done with the idea that her ex equals destiny, ‘think I saw forever in your eyes’, forgone in favour of choosing herself, and thus, recovery, ‘pickin’ up the pieces of a mess/ But I feel like myself again’. Risen from the ruin her ex wrought on her heart, Tinashe is free from her relationship regrets, free to fondly recall that her affectations for her ex were real, ‘I hope you know I meant/ Every word I said’. Tinashe successfully reaches restoration on Remember When, reclaiming her heart, herself and pumping out her most impassioned music to date in the process.