Tinashe should have never been put in that position

Michael Arceneaux
4 min readSep 14

The singer says she’s embarrassed about her collaborations with R. Kelly and Chris Brown, but it’s her former label reps that ought to feel shame.

Photo Credit: Tinashe/Twitter

I am a Tinashe truther.

In 2015, I wrote an essay for Complex entitled “Tinashe Is As Close to Janet Jackson As We’ll Ever Get.”

Six years later, I can acknowledge that while we do see elements of Janet Jackson in other contemporary artists — Doja Cat, my demon supreme comes to mind — my general point is that Tinashe, musically, is arguably the best of Janet’s students, and more importantly, more than her breakout hit “2 On.”

If you listened to her music prior to its release you knew the song, albeit catchy, was not the best example of her sound or talents as a songwriter and producer.

I always felt like her label failed her in shortchanging her multiple talents for a strategy that seemed more fixated on scoring a cheap hit by any means.

Tinashe, who left her label RCA in 2019 and went independent but has since signed a near record deal, confirmed my past suspicions when spoke with the Zach Sang Show in promotion of her new album BB/ANG3L.

She was asked if her singles with R. Kelly and Chris Brown were a result of her label’s strategy to launch her career.

Before answering, Tinashe looked stunned and responded with a laugh: “You think I wanted [to do those songs]?”

“ I literally block out that R. Kelly song from my mind — I forget that it even exists,” she added. “That is so embarrassing. That is so unreal that I even have a song with R. Kelly.”

I do not remember the 2015 track “Let’s Be Real Now” with Kelly, but it speaks to a bad pattern from labels before he ended up in federal custody.

“I was so young too, which is crazy because I feel like I did that song when I just signed to that label ….I was probably like 20,” Tinashe noted.

Michael Arceneaux

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”