Have you heard of Tinashe? Have you listened to any of her music? Tinashe isn’t plastered to the front of every magazine and you’d be hard pressed to hear any of her music in heavy rotation on mainstream radio, but why? Tinashe is signed to a major record label, she’s easy on the eyes, and she’s talented so what’s the deal? Well, Tinashe recently sat down with The Guardian for an interview in which she discussed sexism, colorism, and some other -isms that have stopped her from fully realizing her dreams.
“There’s a lot of sexism in the music business….when you’re in these studios, it’s all men.”
Tinashe speaks on the lack of female producers/engineers in the music industry, as well as the lack of support from male counterparts. We see a lot of this in the music industry but we don’t really recognize it. Think about Beyonce and Rihanna, they are top Black female artists who are both backed by Jay-Z. Jay-Z started and still heavily impacts both Beyonce’ and Rihanna’s careers. Nicki Minaj was introduced to the mainstream via Lil Wayne. Nicki still has the full support of one of the top male rap artists – Drake. Every successful female in the music industry is connected to a man who has either introduced her, backed her, or has reintroduced her rebranded image to the world. Tinashe does not have that backing in an industry that is, unfortunately, still dominated by men.
“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 Beyonce’ or Rihanna.”
In the interview, Tinashe speaks on the competition among black female artists. Fans seem to form an allegiance to a specific artist, boycotting all others. I only see this with black artists. Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Katy Perry, and Lady GaGa can all co-exist and experience success but for black female artists, there is only room for Beyonce’ and Rihanna. It’s the same for black female rappers; Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj can not co-exist and experience success as two completely different rap artists. Instead, they have to battle it out for an imaginary “top spot”. Why?
“…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.”
Although Tinashe identifies as a black woman she says she’s not black enough for the black community. Tinashe is Zimbabwean and Danish, Beyonce’ is African American and French. I don’t think Tinashe’s heritage has any impact on her unfavorable luck in the music industry. Do we deal with colorism in the black community, HELL YEAH! Usually, that colorism looks like the self-hate you see when a black person deems his fellow black man ugly because he has darker skin. Honestly, the superiority complex of many of the lighter skinned people in the black community should work to Tinashe’s benefit, much like it did for Beyonce’.
I enjoyed the interview, mostly because it provided me the opportunity to meet a new artist. Although she made a few valid points, I couldn’t help thinking maybe Tinashe should try something different if her current career isn’t working for her. During her interview she said, “..I’ve never, ever thought, I’m going to work in a mall.” When I read this I thought, is working an average 9-5 a lesser thing to her? Does she feel entitled because she can sing and dance? We are all meant to do something, but just because I can carry a tune and I watched MJ slay world tour after world tour doesn’t mean I was born to do the same thing. At the end of the day, Tinashe sounds like a jealous, bitterly frustrated young woman who needs to find a better day job. The music industry is full of sexism and it will remain that way as long as we have young women willing to overly sexualize themselves, and compromise for fame. Tinashe, sounds like you’re in the wrong profession.