For reasons largely unknown but guessable, Tinashe has yet to release her second album Joyride, the follow-up to her 2014 debut Aquarius. Regardless, she’s spent the past year either promoting the album, apologizing for its absence, or expressing her own frustration with its delay.
Album delays (even major ones) should be a non-issue at this point (and two years of waiting is really nothing), except that a new Tinashe song seems to surface every week. Enough to fill an entire album, you might say. There’s been: “Party Favors” (which she admitted to leaking herself), “Players” (feat. Chris Brown), “Secrets,” “Super Love” and now “Company” (above). None of the songs are terrible. None are “2 On” level breakout jams either. Tinashe has had to address her delay publicly, over and over, because these leaked tracks haven’t yielded the success her label, RCA, likely seeks. Also, because she keeps doing interviews.
In her latest for the cover of Nylon, Tinashe says—not for the first time—that the release date is beyond her control, stating the obvious. Joyride was originally due in fall 2015 (disclosure: I interviewed her for Nylon’s Dec/Jan 2016 issue at the time), then January or February 2016 and now October. When asked, in this new interview, if simply leaking the album would be a viable bet, Tinashe says it’d be pointless:
“But how is that going to help me? It’s just going to come out and then it’s gone, and then I don’t have the support. No one’s going to be booking me for TV performances, [the label is] certainly not going to help me with my next one,” she says with a chuckle, possibly trying to downplay her exasperation over the delay. “The producers would be mad at me because they wouldn’t have gotten paid. If I just put it on SoundCloud, I’m not getting paid, my label isn’t getting paid.” She’s quick to clarify that she doesn’t have any hard feelings against RCA, and that she understands that profitability is their top priority. “It’s the business aspect,” she says. “There’s always going to be a difference in opinion because they’re just looking at things from a different side. And I’m not mad at them for it.”
I’d venture to say there is some anger. The obvious consensus is that the label has been testing songs to see what could stick as a single, in an effort to create stardom. But few, if any, fans care about the business reasons for an album’s delay. Realistically, this isn’t Frank Ocean level thirst and not many people probably know or even care that this Tinashe album is coming. It’s possible that her team tried to play up rumors of her dating Calvin Harris after his breakup with Taylor Swift, but not enough people were concerned about that either. She’s meanwhile gone on tour with old music and was scheduled to open for Iggy Azalea’s cancelled tour, a blessing in disguise.
Tinashe seems to have limited power to demand much from her label, an unfortunate position for someone who put out such a tonally cool debut album that was better than many first-time artists. In March, she told The Washington Post, “I honestly have no answers. I’m ready to get it out. I’ve been sitting on this music for a while so I can’t wait for other people to hear it...It’s just finishing touches and legal issues and all that good bullshit. It’s business.” Again in July, while promoting “Super Love,” she told Beats 1's Zane Lowe that “the majority” of the album has been finished for a while. “I’m at a loss as far as what my marketing scheme should be. I just feel like the song is a great song,” she said.