It takes time for our lives to align exactly the way we envisioned them to be—a lesson that singer, songwriter, dancer, and producer Tinashe has embraced fully at this stage in her career. You may know the star for her rhythmic fusion of pop, alternative, and R&B in bops like “2 On,” “All Hands on Deck,” and “Throw a Fit,” but the artist’s work extends beyond a list of Billboard Hot 100 hits. Tinashe’s career has been years in the making. From the tender age of 5, she was called to perform. She started as an actress, appearing in a handful of films and TV shows, but at the age of 15, she decided to pursue music full-time. While it took her a few years to break into the industry, her buzzy debut mixtape, In Case We Die, landed her a record deal and set her on the path to this moment.
For Tinashe, the essence of this moment can be distilled into the title of her most recent album, 333. In numerology, this number is all about everything being in divine order—something that the musician, bashfully over a phone call during her last tour, admits to finally feeling in her life. “You can tell when you’re in alignment based on how you feel on a day-to-day basis and how you feel about yourself. Whenever I’m able to connect with my fans, make art that I want to make, be in control of my creative vision and my narrative, that’s when I feel like the most in alignment,” she says. Tinashe’s career is a lesson in the power of divine timing; some things can’t be rushed. Getting to where she is now in her career, her life, and her higher purpose could have only been possible through hard work, faith, and patience.
The patience piece of it, though, hasn’t always come easy for Tinashe. “I’m naturally impatient,” she admits. “There have been times where I’ve felt that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be as quick as I wanted it to be.” Over the past few years, however, the artist has been able to shift her perspective when it comes to meeting her own expectations. She divulges, “I look at myself a lot more like a legacy artist, as someone who’s going to be around for a long time. And I look at my career as a big-picture thing instead of focusing on little steps. This is a ‘life journey’ kind of thing.”
Getting to the moment where she felt everything was aligned in her craft required Tinashe to get lost along the way. “I was so young when I started entering this male-dominated industry, and I just slowly started losing confidence in myself to make the art that I wanted to make,” she says. It ultimately took the star cutting ties with her former record label and breaking out on her own to find herself again. And the confidence she found in doing so now permeates every aspect of her work.
Longtime fans of Tinashe have always held a torch for her approach to songwriting and creative visuals, but there was definitely a moment when you knew she was back. Her shift as an artist could be felt in songs such as “Rascal (Superstar),” where, over a bumpin’ beat, she proclaims, “I’m in the first place, need a ribbon. They don’t understand that I’m the shit.” In her more recent music videos, you can literally see how she’s able to tell her story without creative limitations, as she’s in control of every aspect of the visuals, from the choreography to the costumes. Tinashe’s renowned sense of creative freedom isn’t limited to her music, though. It informs her approach to fashion as well.
“In my everyday life, I’m pretty laid-back about style,” she tells me. “But when I’m trying to express my art, I think that’s where it comes to play for me. Whether that’s on stage or in a music video, I use fashion as a way of storytelling expression, translating my art.” Being able to truly own her story—through what she chooses to wear and what she chooses to write—has given the creative the ability to detach from the outcome and just create for the fun of it. And these days, creating is far more important to Tinashe than any of the accolades.
The irony is that her last two independently released albums, Songs for You and 333, were met with critical acclaim. But despite the fanfare, she’s not interested in how others perceive her music. “I’ve learned that I just don’t need external validation. It comes from within, at a core level,” she says. Rather than focus on opinions, sales, or charts, she lets her creative freedom fulfill her higher calling. Freedom for Tinashe is “the feeling of being uninhibited, especially when it comes to a creative process.”
In an industry that prioritizes streaming and social media following over artistry, it’s taken Tinashe time to get to a point where she’s no longer compromising what she wants to appease people and is just following her heart instead. She feels every artist should strive toward something, but it’s a lesson that even she admits to learning slowly.
Whether it’s leaving a record label, a relationship, or old habits behind, Tinashe is the first to admit that it’s not always easy to discern when it’s time to detach yourself from situations or beliefs that no longer serve you. “There’s not necessarily always one moment when you know it’s time to leave the bar, so to speak. It’s easy to revert back to old patterns and seek fulfillment outside of oneself,” she says. But for the star, she did reach the point where she was finally able to learn to trust herself. She declares, “The best thing that I can always do is follow my instincts and trust my gut because that will always lead me in the right direction. And when I’m not doing that, that is going to be detrimental to me in the long-term.”
That doesn’t mean the creative hasn’t rid herself of doubt. “That’s the human condition, right? We’re always feeling inadequate or like we are not where we want to be. But that’s when you have to reassess what’s not aligning,” she continues. “If you’re holding onto a lot of baggage or feeling weighed down, that’s when you have to make decisions and allow yourself to grow.” And that growth is exactly what this artist has found—not only by branching out in her career but by also deepening her spirituality through meditation, dancing, and music.
Tinashe is a profoundly soulful artist, something that’s clear when you find out that half of her songs are dancing around the topic of death. When I ask her about it, she confides, “I’ve kind of always been really into those themes and fascinated with existence in general. You know, exploring death through art is a way to hold myself accountable for how I’m living my day-to-day life.” She pauses, then continues, “It’s a reminder that life is short. I’m just trying to live in the moment as much as I possibly can.”
Living in the limelight can be overwhelming, but Tinashe has her own mechanisms to ground her in the here and now, like meditation, spending time with family, and dancing. But the biggest thing that reminds her to stay present is her life purpose. Music, for Tinashe, has moved past being about her, about her career, or about anything else superfluous. Rather, she intends to use herself as a vessel: “The whole point is to make it about other people and create connections through art. If you peel back the layers—having a platform, being famous, even creating music—it’s all about helping people. When I’m doing that, when I’m living in the moment, that’s when I know I’m in alignment.”