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Tinashe feat. ScHoolboy Q – 2 On



Thanks to the wonderful gift of hindsight, we can now see that the turn of the century was an extraordinarily fertile time for American R&B. Acts such as Aaliyah, Kelis, Destiny’s Child, Ciara and Brandy were cranking out tunes that were so far ahead of their time, they still sound fresh and exciting now. Anything with the names of Timbaland or Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins attached was guaranteed to be of a high quality, and even the one-hit wonders (Tweet, Cassie, Amerie, Lumidee – your names liveth forever more) were pretty damn stellar.

Over the last decade, save the odd belter from Beyoncé, R&B has largely stagnated. Few forward advances have been made, and we find ourselves in 2015 with R&B largely split into two camps: the downtempo, indie-baiting PBR&B as exemplified by Drake and The Weeknd (summary: all this incredible sex I’m having is making me feel a bit sad because I’m so complex), or club-centric, hedonistic rave pop in the Calvin Harris mould (summary: I’m having a jolly marvellous time *one million airhorns sound*).

Last year, FKA Twigs showed it’s possible to do new things with R&B and there are burgeoning signs that slowly but surely, R&B might be beginning to rediscover the excitement and invention of that imperial phase. Tinashe is one of the figureheads of this movement; a 22 year old singer, songwriter, producer, actress, dancer and director (thanks, Wikipedia) who’s had more success in her native America than on this side of the pond.

2 On is Tinashe’s calling card. It’s a slinky and minimalistic track which sounds as if it were recorded about twelve years ago so, counter-intuitively, it sounds bang up to date for 2015. It’s a paean to going out and having a good time, but it’s not as mindless as many of the songs that dominate the current charts. There’s actually quite a nihilistic bent to it; Tinashe encourages us to get drunk and have fun, because life’s too short and we could all be dead tomorrow. Seeing as the best-known song to recently approach life in such a fatalistic manner does so in order to guilt women into bed (Pitbull and Ne-Yo’s Give Me Everything), Tinashe’s tribute to partying your cares away comes across as almost wholesome in comparison.

In the States, Tinashe released 2 On on her 21st birthday which, given that’s the legal drinking age there, gave the track that extra resonance. In her own words, getting ‘2 on’ means “getting a little too hype, or a little too buzzed, or just feeling a little too good”. Seeing as the hook contains the lyrics, “I love to get 2 on / When the drink be too strong / When the tree be way too strong”, it’s fairly unambiguous what she’s talking about.

There’s also a guest verse from Black Hippy member ScHoolboy Q, but that can be largely ignored (summary: I’m extraordinarily proficient at sexual intercourse and I’m also quite the fan of money). Perhaps a song this good came too early in Tinashe’s fledgling career, though she’s sure to make waves in years to come. For now though, 2 On is Tinashe’s statement of intent, showing she’s willing to take on the mantle of Aaliyah et al, and she’s as fed up of modern R&B as the rest of us.

Entered chart: 02/02/2014

Chart peak: 127

Who could sing this today and have a hit? A stone cold banger that shows how much the artist likes to drink, smoke and have a good time? Rihanna is crying out for something like this for her new record.

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