'When you’re black you have to fight': Tinashe, Kehlani and other female R&B artists struggle for attention
Only three black women have topped the charts in the past 10 years. Here's why.
Three years ago, all the signs pointed one way: Tinashe was on her way to pop stardom.
In 2012, when she was just 19, she produced two critically acclaimed mixtapes that landed her a deal at RCA. A year later her debut single, “2 On,” made it to No. 24 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Her 2014 debut album, “Aquarius,” was met with critical acclaim and she was nominated for a BET Award.
Since then, the singer-songwriter has toured with Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, collaborated with Britney Spears, earned praise from idol Janet Jackson and issued two buzzy projects, including last year’s digital-only work “Nightride.”
Yet Tinashe’s career has hit an impasse.
Nearly two years after it was announced to much hype, RCA has yet to release her long-gestating sophomore album, “Joyride.” As a string of genre-hopping singles and collaborations with artists like Spears, Chris Brown and Young Thug failed to produce a major hit, “Joyride” and her young career have stalled.
Attempting a restart, she has learned many things: that pop hits speak louder than reviews, only crossover stars make real money and being a black female performer comes with inherent challenges.
“Critical acclaim hasn’t been enough in my experience,” said the 24-year-old, who was born Tinashe Kachingwe. “The label appreciates it, but the music business, in my perspective, is still so much based on revenue and how much they are making in sales. That’s where it gets really [crappy].”
“You just want to make art for the sake of art,” she continued, “and not have people [care] about a number, first-week sales or things like that.”