The LA-based R&B singer Tinashe has encountered career roadblock after career roadblock since she released her great 2014 debut Aquarius. Despite strong singles like “Flame,” she can’t get a released date for her sophomore album Joyride, though she did drop the stopgap Nightride last year. And in a recent interview, Tinashe seems to blame something other than record-label bureaucracy for her lack of success. To some extent, she seems to think that it stems from colorism.
Tinashe, who identified herself as “a pop artist who makes R&B-tinged pop music” has mixed heritage; her mother is Danish, and her father is a Zimbabwean immigrant. And in an interview with The Guardian, she claims that the black community might not be ready to accept a singer with her heritage:
There’s colorism involved in the black community, which is very apparent. It’s about trying to find a balance where I’m a mixed woman, and sometimes I feel like I don’t fully fit into the black community; they don’t fully accept me, even though I see myself as a black woman. That disconnect is confusing sometimes. I am what I am.
That statement has made Tinashe a trending topic on Twitter this morning; a whole lot of people do not seem to agree. In any case, Tinashe also feels that it’s hard to be a black woman in pop if you’re not Rihanna or Beyoncé:
Recently, my cousin was with a friend of a friend, who was in high school, and she was like, “I’m a fan of Kehlani,” but in a way that was like, “So I can’t be a fan of Tinashe, too.” Then my friend posed the question, “Why not be a fan of both?” It’s kind of like sport; people feel like they have to pick a side… There are hundreds of [male] rappers that all look the same, that sound the same, but if you’re a black woman, you’re either Beyoncé or Rihanna. It’s very, very strange… It felt like they almost had to sacrifice someone because there wasn’t enough room, which isn’t true.
And Tinashe also confirmed a recent rumor that Rihanna briefly took “Joyride,” which will hopefully eventually be the title track from Tinashe’s album, for herself:
Yeah, that’s true. But I don’t know if it was personally Rihanna, like, “I’m taking that from Tinashe.” I don’t think that’s how it worked. But it’s back now… It’s definitely been discouraging, and I have days where I’m less confident, but at the end I know that I’m going to get to where I need to go. There’s doubt that seeps in, there’s self-deprecation, because you look to someone to blame and you can’t blame anyone but yourself, but I’ve never, ever thought, “I’m going to work in a mall.”
Interviews like this make me think we shouldn’t hold our breath for Joyride to come out anytime soon.